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Poor Man’s Viagra: The Plight of Our Marine Turtles

Collecting turtle eggs

The date was August 16, 2013, the time 4:30 PM. Steve and Peggy Sue watched as the bulky form emerged from the shallow waves and began dragging itself up on the moist sand of Barú Beach. It was a strange sight to behold, especially in the afternoon. Olive Ridley Marine Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) don’t normally come out of the sea and lay their eggs during daylight hours. In fact, they normally steer clear of the moonlight, only appearing on the beach when the night is pitch black. But here she was, in all her glory, awkwardly pulling herself up on the beach with flippers that looked better suited for maneuvering around in the sea than dragging one hundred pounds of dead weight across the sand. When she reached a point where thousands of years of accumulated instinct told her that the beach looked right, the female began to dig with paddle-like rear flippers. The digging continued until she could reach no deeper. After positioning her backside over the hole she began to expel the flexible, white, leathery spheres shrouded in thick mucous, each about the size and shape of a golf ball. The eggs plopped into the hole one by one until no more remained inside of the reptile. The female began scooping the sand back into the hole covering the precious eggs that would assure the future of her species. She positioned her hard bony underplate over the mound of sand and using her flippers, raised her heavy body into the air and quickly let it fall with a resounding thud, repeating the process until the nest was firmly packed. Near exhaustion, the female Olive Ridley Turtle began her labored trek back to the water’s edge, stopping frequently to rest, until at last she was swallowed by the vastness of the sea. Noticing the encroaching darkness, Steve glanced at his watch. The time was 5:30 PM. “We’d better get back to the lodge,” he said. “Nightfall comes quickly in the tropics.” 

Hacienda Baru

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How Do You Help a Wild Pig Cross the Road?

By Jack Ewing 

Wild pigs using a tunnel under the road

Wild pigs using a tunnel under the road.

I once saw a menu from a fictitious restaurant called the Road Kill Cafe. “You Kill it; we grill it.” It offered selections such as flat cat, smear of deer, awesome opossum, chunk of skunk, and swirl squirrel. The daily special was called “The Mess. If you can guess what it is, you eat it for free.” The chef’s name was “Squash em Jack.” I always thought that menu was hilarious, but later in my life, I realized that road kill is a serious problem that can have a major impact on wildlife populations. I think the experience that really brought the problem to my attention was the day an employee brought a dead jaguarundi for me to see. It had dashed out in front of his car so quickly that he didn’t have a chance to brake. That incident made me realize that steps needed to be taken to minimize road kill and maintain connectivity between forests on both sides of our roads and highways. We live in biological corridor where biodiversity has been increasing since the mid 1980s, and where, until recently, the roads were so bad that cars couldn’t go fast enough to kill any but the slowest animals. The construction of new highways and the improvement of old ones has changed all of that. 

Hacienda Baru

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How You Can Be Green and Contribute to a Healthier Planet!

Below we have listed some ideas to help you be environmentally aware.

When cooling your house keep the following in mind: 

  • A ceiling fan uses a lot less energy than air conditioners.
  • When you have to use the air conditioner, remember to keep your thermostat at 80 to 82 degrees to save energy.
  • Keep your ceiling fan on when you have the air conditioner on, it will improve you’re air conditioner’s efficiency.
  • Be sure all doors and windows are closed when using the air, and curtains closed when the sun is coming through the windows, as the sun will heat up the room.
  • Seal all air leaks in your rooms so the cold air won’t escape.
  • There is great news about the Old Wife’s tale that it uses more energy to turn lights on and off than to leave them on.  That is what it is, just an Old Wife’s tale, it is not true!  If you are going to be out of the room for more than a minute you should turn them off.
  • As most of you already know, use energy efficient light bulbs.  They are great for saving energy and helping reduce energy usage. 

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Has the Time Come to Say Good-bye to an Old Friend? I Hope Not!

By Jack Ewing

River Otter Eating Fish

River Otter Eating Fish

Back in the 1970s Diane and the kids and I lived in the casona, the old Hacienda Baru home. We didn’t get around to digging a well until the early 1980s, and every year, the free flowing spring that supplied our water would dry up in mid February. To deal with the situation we carried drinking water in 5 gallon plastic containers from another spring two kilometers away, and water for washing dishes and flushing toilets from the river in 55 gallon drums. The girl who worked for us went to the Barú River to do laundry, and every afternoon around 4:00 PM everyone went to the river to bathe in the crystal clear water. The village of Dominical was out of water too, so most of the town – about 8 people at that time – met us there, and the afternoon bath became as much a social event as one of personal hygiene. 

Another daily visitor to the bathing ritual was the Neotropical River Otter (Lutra longicaudis.) No sooner did we started splashing around than a couple of otters would appear from down river, swimming toward our location at the “Paso del Guanacaste.” They would swim directly at us at high speed, and about four meters short of our location they would dive. Sometimes they stayed underwater only a few seconds and sometimes longer than a minute. When they resurfaced it could be anywhere, but it would definitely be at least four meters (13 feet) from the nearest person. It was like they were playing a game with us, but only to a certain point. 

Hacienda Baru

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Top Predators: Pumas in the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor

Puma FaceBy Jack Ewing

In the rainforests of Central America the jaguar (Panthera onca) is at the pinnacle of the food chain, and the next largest feline, the puma (Puma concolor,) is one step below. There isn’t much that will confront a jaguar except the larger crocodiles that lurk in some of the rivers. The presence of these magnificent spotted cats in a rain forest is a strong indication of the biological health of the ecosystem. It means there is enough for them to eat, and enough for their prey to eat. It suggests that the ecosystem is well balanced and productive. It also means that hunting is under control.

Hacienda Baru

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Happy Holidays to you all from Kids Saving the Rainforest!

 By Jennifer Rice

If you are looking for a great holiday gift, we have the solution!  Shop in the KSTR Store located adjacent to the Hotel Mono Azul Rainforest Restaurant in Manuel Antonio.  You will get great value, (the prices are the best), and you will be saving the rainforest at the same time! (100% of the proceeds go to save the rainforest!) 

As we look at the end of every year Kids Saving The Rainforest (KSTR) reflects on all of the gifts and support we have received through the year.  We are so grateful to be able to help the world in fighting the battle of Climate Change and we are definitely making a difference, one tree, one animal, at a time. We continue to grow year after year in part by receiving support for our programs from you.  We thank you all for helping to make this possible and wish you the best in 2013! 

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KSTR Sustainability Project

Chicks and Rachel

Chicks and Rachel

By Volunteer Rachel Melvin 

Kids Saving the Rainforest is focused on preserving and protecting the local wildlife.  This mission includes housing a wildlife sanctuary on the grounds of the Blue Banyan Inn on the property that is called “the finca”. The sanctuary currently houses 29 monkeys plus a crab eating raccoon. Feeding them, as well as the volunteers that care for them, and BBI’s numerous guests can take an extraordinary amount of food.

KSTR strives to implement a more sustainable operation on the Finca and our next venture in this arena is creating a sustainable egg supply to feed monkeys, volunteers, and guests.

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The Plight of the Olive Ridley Turtle

Turtle Season 2012 Is Here

Laying Eggs

Laying Eggs

By Jack Ewing

Beliefs are often formed on the basis of a combination of myth and wishful thinking. Since the first pioneers began to settle the southern Pacific region of Costa Rica they have exploited the marine turtles, patrolling the beaches during turtle season, and digging up the freshly laid eggs. They have always done this not because their families are under nourished and need the eggs for their nutritional value, but rather because they believe the myth that turtle eggs will increase their sexual potency. This is ridiculous, of course, but it is, nevertheless, what motivates people to dig up the eggs and consume them. For this reason populations of marine turtles are diminishing.

Hacienda Baru

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2012 Annual Fundraiser at Gaia Hotel & Reserve

Titi Thank youBy Tey Arce

Titi Conservation Alliance would like to thank all those who came and support the 2012 Annual Fundraiser at Gaia Hotel & Reserve. Thanks to all of you, the evening’s proceeds reached $4,000, exceeding the initial goal that the Alliance had set for the environmental education program. Beyond having such a great audience, we are happy to recognize that it was definitely a successful night with delicious gourmet appetizers and great people. The live music with Pura Bossa, Gaia´s musicians and the last-minute Argentinean friends from Drake Bay, filled the air with vibrant sweet and playful tunes that positively surprised us all. And for the first time, we must say that the organization pushed everyone towards deforestation…by the end of the night, the donation tree had no more donation leaves left!

Titi Conservation Alliance

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Fat-Handed Cats

Caged Chicken Killer

Caged Chicken Killer

By Jack Ewing

The sleek, spotted cat rested with her chest and thick front paws on the log, her eyes peering over the top, waiting patiently for a spiny rat or some other small rodent to scurry along the other side. She had been there since moon rise, but so far no prey had ventured past. An uneasy feeling enveloped her body like a mist that penetrated to the very core of her being. She waited and watched. A faint sound reached her ears, and she became aware of the source of the unpleasant feeling, dogs, their distant howls drifting on the cool night breeze. The unwelcome wail was not new to her ears; it signified the most fearful thing in her environment. The thought of climbing a tree briefly flickered across her mind, but if the dogs caught her scent and found the tree, she would be trapped, an easy target for the humans that always come with the dogs. The other choice was to put distance between herself and the howling dogs, but the forest wasn’t that big, and she could only run so far. The female ocelot decided to wait and listen. Maybe the feared canines would go a different dirección. She crouched down as if to make herself smaller. But the sound kept coming closer, and the moment arrived that she had to make a move.The beautiful spotted feline sprinted through the forest keeping well to one side of the approaching dogs’ path. The terraine was familiar and she moved quickly and easily, making a wide circle around the oncoming dogs. She crossed their path well behind the excited howls, the area still strong with the dreaded scent. She headed for the stream and the one tree that meant safety. Crossing the swift current she came to a the giant fig with the buttress roots on one side reaching into the water. She climbed the trunk to an opening far above the ground, crawled into the hollow core, lay down on a ledge, and remained still, waiting, listening. After a time the baying of the dogs turned to a frenzy. They had probably cornered a paca in its cave. The sleek, spotted, female ocelot relaxed; she was safe until another day. — Crouched in her hiding place vivid memories flowed through her mind of another night long ago when her mother had hidden her and her brother in another hollow fig in a distant forest, and had then run away from the hiding place intentionally leading the dogs astray. She remembered the three loud bangs that had reached her ears, the bangs that only came from humans. Her mother never returned. The following day she and her brother had ventured down from the tree and into the forest. They were old enough to make it on their own, but life wasn’t easy. They had stayed together for a short time, and then each had gone its own way.

Hacienda Baru

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Costa Rica’s Mermaid: Renate Herberger

Renate HerbergerBy Pat Cheek 

I recently spent a little time with Renate at the Hotel Parador. It was a day off from her swimming and teaching  before moving on. 

As  a little background, Renate began swimming at the  age of 4 when her mother coaxed her into ever deepening water until she was swimming- we should say she’s been swimming ever since.  She has logged about 4,800 km and still kicking since making saving the oceans her life calling. 

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A Bridge to Nowhere

Arial photoBy Jack Ewing

Those of us who live within the bounds of the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor are among a privileged few. With most of the world suffering the impacts of over development we live in one of the few places in the world where biodiversity is increasing and has been doing so since the mid 1980s. This is due to a number of factors including the work of many people who live here and understand the importance of restoring wildlife habitat. The work of the Asociación Amigos de la Naturaleza del Pacífico Central y Sur (ASANA) on the biological corridor project has been the driving force that has influenced the change.

Hacienda Baru

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Inspiring Education Arises

By Tey Arce

A famous quote says “The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn.” Here is a simple question: How many special classes and teachers inspired your life? Was there any course you loved so much you didn’t want to miss a lesson?

Titi Conservation Alliance

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Strategic Planning and Organization 2012-2013

By Sabine Seifert

I learned about KSTR last year when I first spoke with Pía, the KSTR Wildlife Vet. We were talking about my Educational Program in “Project Management” and how it is a way to improve the efficiency in a business project.  KSTR was interested in learning about it and I was interested in putting it to work. KSTR consists of dedicated people with a keen sense of the environment and filled with fantastic ideas. To implement these ideas formally we began with the project “Kids Saving the Rainforest Strategic Planning and Organization for 2012/2013”. This plan serves as a structured framework in organizational developmental processes. The team consists of Costa Rican, American and German members.

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Self Sufficient Living

By Vernita Gundy 

Self Sufficient Living… HMMMMMM…What is that? I am a US citizen who lives in the City of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania and although I’ve heard of self-sufficient living, I have never learned what it actually meant until now. Self-sufficient living means self reliance in learning to grow your own, make your own, sell your own and bake your own, for homesteading, urban homesteading or mini farms. 

 I’ve been in Costa Rica volunteering for Kids Saving the Rainforest the last 3 months and I have slowly started to understand what it is all about and how important it is to change our way of living so we can all be on this earth for years to come. 

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