WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
You will be working in the Pacific rainforests and beaches bordering Corcovado National Park, one of the most remote National Parks in the country which has been described by National Geographic as “one of the most biologically intense places on the planet”. Home to one of the largest tropical primary lowland rainforests in the world, Corcovado National Park is also home to a large range of endangered plant and animal species. Dense rainforest creates a dramatic habitat for hundreds of bird and mammal species, along with a high population of marine turtles nesting on the beaches each year.
FOCUS ON PRIMATES
Primates are an endangered group that are at risk from a number of stressors including habitat destruction and fragmentation, loss of key food sources, climate change and poaching for bush meat and for sale in the pet trade. These animals are critical in their ecosystems, being key seed dispersers, without their presence the forest ecosystem would likely collapse, endangering many other species.
On our Costa Rica Primate Research Programme you will be carrying out extensive biodiversity surveys on all four species of primate. Work will include walking primate transects to collect valuable data on the white-faced capuchin monkeys, Central American squirrel monkeys, Geoffrey’s spider monkey and mantled howler monkey which thrive in these biologically rich forests.If you are interested you will also have the chance to conduct desk based research that will help the research team in assessing the current status of the populations worldwide in relation to our results.
These surveys are typically conducted three to four times each week and involve recording every troop encountered during slow forest treks, using binoculars. It is important to take an accurate count of the number of individuals within the troop (a good pair of binoculars will certainly prove beneficial!) as well as calculating the size of the area surveyed by taking measurements of the distance between the trail and the troop of monkeys. Behavioural data is also collected to determine activity patterns in different habitats, and information regarding plant foraging preferences is also recorded to gain a better understanding of the ecosystem as a whole.
WHAT ELSE CAN I GET INVOLVED IN?
Other activities you will also have the chance to get involved in include, patrolling the beaches of nesting endangered marine turtles to assess nesting preferences, hatchling success and population health, undertaking a big cat research project which aims to address one of the biggest threats to wild cats globally, human-wildlife conflict, undertaking work on the data deficient neotropical otter whilst walking the course of the rivers, and surveying populations of neotropical birds, invertebrates and other animal groups on this research programme.
In addition to these wildlife research projects you will also be involved in other activities which play a key part in conservation. For example, typically once per week all project participants assist with the creation and maintenance of trails which facilitate the majority of the surveys we conduct. We will also aim to show you the wonders of the jungle, with regular walks to find rare and endangered species and night walks to discover what happens in the jungle when the sun goes down!
Though there is enough downtime to get yourself stuck into a good book, swim in the rivers and take part in horse riding, canopy tours, dolphin and whale tours and a trip to Corcovado National Park (not included in the price) among others, the project boasts a busy schedule focusing on its broad range of high conservation impact science for which participants will receive full training in the field. You will receive a wide range of lectures designed to complement the practical research programme to provide background knowledge about the species we are working with, based around their biology and ecology and understand the conservation needs of these species.