Ups and Downs

As our project progresses we are still encountering more species and it seems to be that number 13 is a lucky number. Camera number 13 had some startup problems, but when functioning properly started to produce the gems. Maybe you remember the Margay (Leopardus wiedii) that was calmly preening itself at about 7,5m. height in the tree. Last week this camera produced a video of the elusive and endangered Central American Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi). The last time these monkeys have been spotted on campus was about three years ago. As the Spider Monkey is known to not be able to survive outside of large tracts of primary forest, the presence of this species on campus is a beautiful testament to the conservation efforts here at UGA Costa Rica. Another very good indicator of a healthy ecosystem is the presence of top predators like the Puma (Puma concolor), an animal that promotes species richness in an area. Therefore we are very happy to also catch these beauties on our cameras.

Besides these success stories there is also a major setback in out project (which is the reason I was not able to publish the video of the Spider Monkeys): last week the external hard drive that is used to download the data from the camera traps fell out of a tree. And of course this had to be one of the highest trees that we are climbing. That week of recovering data was fraught with bad luck, from cameras that were affected by ant nests and had to be replaced, to the dropping of batteries that had to be searched for on the forest floor, and of course (as icing on the cake) the hard drive that was destroyed. As it was two months before that a backup of the data had been made, we are at risk of losing two months of video and a little more of data input. This is an essential problem for the core of the project: as we are aiming to collect your round data, this could result in having to start the year anew from April onward. Although I don’t mind spending more time at this beautiful location, there are many costs associated with this issue.

And even if we are able to recover the data, the process of recovery is not cheap and will at least set the project back $600,-. Therefore we need your help more than ever to be able to bring this beautiful project to a successful end.

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