Sightings of Fauna of Costa Rica increase after decrease in tourism and closings of protected areas

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In the last 140 days of the pandemic, the National Ecological Monitoring Program (PRONAMEC) has managed to observe more than 200 species of birds, 24 mammals and other groups on 4 thousand occasions, in 14 Protected Wild Areas (ASP) of the country.

This was announced by Eugenia Arguedas, biologist from the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) program of the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE), when presenting the first stage of a monitoring project in the selected wilderness areas, which is carried out forward in the context of the significant reduction of visitation to these tourist centers by sanitary provisions to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

“An important record of sightings of different species has been achieved throughout the country during the closure of the Protected Wilderness Areas as a result of the national emergency,” Arguedas said after detailing that more than 30 park rangers who work in some area have worked on this accounting. of the 14 ASP areas selected in this first phase.

Arguedas explained that biologists from the Conservation Areas and the Executive Secretariat used a methodology to systematize the sightings, defining selection criteria such as: ASP that received visitors; that they have enough personnel to make 2 weekly tours of defined trails and that both park rangers and the area have experience to monitor.

The start of Stage II is projected for the end of July, which entails a general analysis of the data of all the selected protected ASPs, together with the rangers, in order to have greater scientific certainty that supports the importance of the sightings of the last months for the conservation of biodiversity and life on planet Earth.

The biologist Guido Saborío, technical and scientific officer of the National Ecological Monitoring Program, indicated that the objective of Stage II of this project is to process the information and thus “have as a basis this 2020 for future comparisons or projections that, without this temporary closure caused by the pandemic, they could not have been carried out, ”he explained.

“This also makes it possible to compare the behavior of fauna and their interaction with visitors after the gradual reopening of different Protected Wild Areas,” he said, after detailing that this initiative is also part of the efforts of the Tourism Program. Sustainability of SINAC to assess the impacts of visitation on protected wild areas.

Sightings. Among the results obtained in this first stage, the presence of more than 200 species of birds and 24 species of mammals is highlighted. “The results of the second phase could delve into the detail of whether the observations of fauna without visitation show variations with respect to what is observed when protected areas are open to the public,” said the biologist.

Among the species found are tapirs in the Chirripó National Park and the Tenorio National Park; jaguars, in different areas, wild pigs and green limpets in Tortuguero National Park, saínos in Arenal Volcano National Park, to name a few.

It is important to indicate that the sighting of many of the reported species is common in these ASPs, commented Gravin Villegas, manager of Protected Areas of the La Amistad Pacífico Conservation Area (ACLA-P), taking as an example the case of tapirs in the National Park Chirripó, a species that is in danger of extinction.

For her part, Elena Vargas, manager of Protected Areas of the Tortuguero Conservation Area, indicated that “in the Tortuguero National Park it is common to see species that are threatened, such as green macaws and jaguars.”

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