Wednesday
Jul232014

ARO Blog: satellite camps

This summer, with the popularity of Frontier's Costa Rica project soaring, we've decided to spread our wings and create two extra 'satellite' camps close to us on the Osa Peninsula. This week, I've been lucky enough to be staying at the Carate camp at which is sits right on the edge of Corcovado national park, one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.


The satellite camp's main function is to provide support for the sea turtle conservation project. We do this by coordinating with them to arrange a schedule to patrol the beaches in the area as much as we can from dusk until dawn. During these patrols we collect data on the number of turtle tracks and nests that we find, as well performing health assessments on the turtles themselves when we see them. We also work to camouflage the tracks and nests that we find to make life as difficult as possible for poachers (who are still sadly a common sight in the area) when they come looking for eggs.

These walks are tough, lasting around 4 hours each on heavy sand, but can be so rewarding both for when we see the beautiful turtles themselves, and also for the stunning sunrises that we can see when dawn finally breaks.

Because this walking is tough, we spend a large part of our days here just relaxing and enjoying the hundreds of monkeys and birds that surround our cabin there. However, we do make ourselves useful in the afternoon, helping out the local workers with various tasks as they maintain the grounds of the lodge.

By the end of the week I was tired, but happy for being so heavily involved in an important turtle conservation project, as well as having a chance to live so close to Corcovado national park which is a true natural wonder.

By John Scott, Assistant Research Officer

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Wednesday
Jul232014

Getting familiar with otter scat

On site volunteer training aims to get you as prepared and knowledgeable as possible before you start working on surveys.

Bird workshops get you familiar with bird calls, turtle training introduces the hatchery and triangulations, primate search shows you how to spot the species, and otter training (pictured) gets you up close and personal with otter scat so you never miss one on a survey!

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Monday
Jul212014

Bijagual

This week at Bijagual farm sat camp we got a real local farm experience! We helped care for Cinderella the sick calf, milked the cows and made cheese for delicious empinadas, saw some amazing storm views, and explored the farms trails!

As well as allowing volunteers to experience real Costa Rican farming, sat camp at Bijagual is a way for us to connect with the community, learn about the land from them, and build a lasting relationship which in the long term will help the conservation of this region.

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Monday
Jul212014

Meet Puffer

Ave Azul is a local bird centre aiming to promote conservation of endangered birds, especially macaws, through education. Our volunteers have been taking regular trips to the centre and have become particularly well acquainted with Puffer, the centres ambassador!

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Wednesday
Jul162014

Volunteer Blog: Sam Hughes

Loving the rainforest life! Yesterday myself and a few other volunteers took the collectivo from various satellite camps and the main camp to the local town, Puerto Jimenez, to go out on a boat for a day to see the Gulf and the wildlife in it.
We checked in to our usual hostel Oro Verde, went out for a meal and then had some drinks before going to the only club in PJ, which is not bad at all considering the size of the town.

The next day we got up at about 7 after not a huge amount of sleep, but all excited to (hopefully) see some dolphins! We were greeted on the pier by our very nice American guide who took us out on his boat and showed us some incredible coastline, with rainforest going right up to the sea. We stopped at a couple of places along the coast to snorkel along the reef where we saw some amazing marine life and an Olive Ridley turtle!


We continued further up the coast in the search of dolphins and sure enough after about 20 minutes we found a pod of bottle nose dolphins, who immediately came over and started playing around the boat. It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life! We then got a couple of 'Plain Boards' out, which are basically chopping boards with handholds on which mean you can be towed behind the boat and by pointing it down you can dive underwater and swim with the dolphins! It was remarkable being so close to all the dolphins and seeing them playing around you, they are apparently the happiest dolphins in the world as there are no Orca's or other predators, but there is plenty of food for them.

After we all had a go on the boards, we went into a mangrove river which again was very impressive and there was a lot of wildlife around, especially birds. We spent the rest of the day chilling in town and we're about to go out for another meal to say goodbye to one of the volunteers who's leaving tomorrow.


All in all a great weekend, hopefully will get the chance to do it again in the 6 weeks I have left here.

By Sam Hughes, Volunteer Research Assistant

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Wednesday
Jul162014

Volunteer blog: Eilidh Robb

Before spending a month in Costa Rica on the Big Cats, Primates and Turtles Project I spent years poring over adventure books, watching wildlife documentaries and dreaming of life in the rainforest. But regardless of whether or not you are an adventure buff, an animal lover, a sun worshiper or you simply need to tick off some of your bucket list; Costa Rica is the place.

In terms of simply surviving in such a treacherous place, it’s amazing how quickly you can become accustomed to sleeping in a hammock, showering under the forest canopy and eating a vast array of weird and wonderful vegetables. Camp becomes unbelievably welcoming over time and nothing beats coming back from a busy day of surveying to the candlelit main deck and dinner. Also, an important note for those of you, like me, who worry about their stomachs, do not fear, a vegetable curry, mango chutney and Nan bread were made during my stay as well as bean burgers and potato skins. You won’t be eating beans and rice every day I promise.

Tribute is of course also paid to the fantastic volunteers I spent my month with on camp. After initially being overwhelmed by the 30 other volunteers who had been on camp for some time, I realised how easy it was to fit into a crowd where you all share a similar passion. I have been lucky enough to make friends for life, and meet some truly inspiring leaders and volunteers alike, and for that I will always be grateful.  

One of the days I will never forget was climbing up Death Creek, a small tributary which flows from the main river by camp. Only one group had travelled up the creek before, and it was truly eye opening to walk where barely any had walked before. Climbing over rocks, swimming through caverns and sustaining quite a few injuries was definitely worth it to stand under the waterfall at the end, in a totally secluded place of natural beauty.

It wasn’t until I returned home that I realised quite how lucky I had been to experience the things I had. I was lucky enough to see all four species of monkey (Spider, Howler, Squirrel and Capuchin), an anteater, agouti, paca, american crocodile, coati, poison dart frogs, red eyed tree frogs, mud turtles, basilisk lizards, scarlet macaws, toucans and many more. And lets face it, not every one can say that they plane boarded with wild dolphins, saw a shooting star in the amazing rainforest night sky, were within 2ft of a deadly fer-de-lance snake and showered in a waterfall.

Sitting at home, in an albeit unusually sunny Scotland, I miss my fellow volunteers laughing and bustling about me, I miss the families of squirrel monkeys playing above our main deck, I miss the adventure and I miss Costa Rica.

If you can, pull up your socks, throw on your wellies, slap on the mosquito repellent and get out there!

By Eilidh Robb, Volunteer Research Assistant

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Monday
Jul142014

Ahh... Now that's more like it!

So many of our volunteers love their hammocks so much they set them up at home! Here's Jenny Summers' fine specimen! Thanks Jenny!

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Monday
Jul142014

We spotted an Agoutis

Agoutis are often seen around camp! They den at night on the forest floor in vegetation and tree roots, and mostly eat fruit, nuts and seeds.Most species live in lower or mid elevation tropical rainforests

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Monday
Jul142014

Look at this Owl Floss. Know the breed?

Monday
Jul142014

Enjoying the beach

Ellie and Jade enjoying the beach after a long ride there on horseback - tough life !

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Monday
Jul142014

Satcamp fun

Here is a selection of photos from this week from our Farm satcamp! Volunteers got involved in trail exploration, cheese making, sign making, cattle worming, horse riding to the beach and visited a Parrot sanctuary!

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Monday
Jul142014

Welcome new volunteers!

We had a deluge of newbies grace the stunning country of Costa Rica on Monday! Here they are preparing themselves and having their last refrigerated drinks before heading into the jungle. They all managed to just squeeze into the colectivo too!

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Monday
Jul142014

Social centre

Our outside seating area has proven to be the social centre of camp this week with so many new faces and friends to get to know!

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Friday
Jul112014

Hurray for the little critters

Creatures great and small... It's always a treat to see a sloth or an ocelot. But let's not forget how diverse Costa Rica is and celebrate the little critters like this who snuck up behind a coffee cup on camp!

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Tuesday
Jul082014

Volunteer blog: Derry Stock

Several days ago marked my first venture onto Peje beach, one noted for being both very strenuous and very rewarding. After OSA work, I was fairly drained, but excited too at the notion of seeing a turtle, since that's the main reason I came here. After another good dinner, one other volunteer and I got ready, packing snacks, cameras and water for the trek ahead. Since I had never done it, the thought of a 16-17km trek along sand sounded very daunting, but it was still shadowed by the fact that in just several hours I could be laying my eyes on a sea turtle.

We set off on the hour long hike to the beach, all the while looking out for other animals, since I had heard that another volunteer had seen an ocelot on that very route just weeks beforehand. To see one is very rare, but there's no harm in trying! Unfortunately we didn't see an ocelot, but other animals became present as we marched onto the beach. We started the trail a little after 9, and began the walk to the end of Peje, a walk that would challenge even the fittest of people. Around half an hour passed, and someone whispered that they had spotted tracks. This was new to me, and as I waited eagerly to hear the outcome, it became apparent that there were exit tracks, and so we recorded the data and moved on. Just minutes later, another line of tracks was spotted, and this time there was a turtle at the end of the line! I was ecstatic, my first turtle!

The way the team handled the animal was very professional, and I couldn't fault them once, the turtle was at complete rest and our presence seemed to be welcomed. Once the data was collected, we soldiered on to the end where we took a well-deserved break. Our group was very lucky in that the sky was completely clear that night, and looking up was the most incredible feeling of wonder I think I've ever experienced. Painting a picture of the place is hard, because I've never known a single area to hold so much beauty, but I can at least describe the surroundings: picture walking along a beach, with every step bioluminescent plankton light up under your feet, and all you can hear is the faint sounds of the jungle and the waves crashing against the shore. Look up and you'll see the most incredibly picturesque view of the Milky Way, and the millions of stars around it. To the side, lightening, the faint flashes of a storm in the distance, but it was a dry night where we were so we could enjoy the show without getting wet, which is always a bonus!

Costa Rica is a truly inspiring place, and somewhere to be enjoyed wholeheartedly until the sad day that you have to leave. We only saw the one turtle that night, which was a win in my books, but in the following days I was lucky enough to see a hatchling running into the water too. Open your eyes and explore, because life's not guaranteed and you should make the most of every second! Costa Rica appears to be a lovely place to carry out this philosophy, and I certainly will be in the following weeks.

By Derry Stock, volunteer research assistant

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Monday
Jul072014

Time for a little chill

Working at a sustainable farm is sometimes hard, but it is worth knowing were our fruit and veg come from! And there is always time to relax!

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Monday
Jul072014

Wow - a rainproof bench

One of the best things about camp life is the variety of people you live with, the skills they each bring to the project, and the opportunities you get to share those skills with everyone else.

Volunteer Ben is the perfect example of this as he shows us his creative side by building a rain proof bench!

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Monday
Jul072014

The white faced capuchin

The white faced capuchin is one of four species of primate that you can see at Frontier Costa Rica. Capuchins are incredibly social and live in groups of up to 30 with an alpha male leading the troop! The populations in Costa Rica are stable and conservation status is Least Concern. However - they are at greatest threat from habitat destruction as humans move into their habitat more and more.


The species is native to Central and South America - so come to see, learn, and help to conserve this fascinating primate with Frontier Costa Rica!

Thanks Sam for the photo!

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Monday
Jul072014

Morning otter walk

Morning otter walks mean amazing scenery, birds, snakes, and wet boots!

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

Thursday
Jul032014

Picking the teams

A tense moment in camp when newbies Ben and Scarlett are picking names out of the hat for for our teams this week. There are 4 teams, Team Otter, Team Bird, Team Turtle and Team Primate. Whatever team you are in you are in charge of ensuring those surveys progress that week and fill any spaces if some surveys haven't been filled. Other tasks include not only collecting the data but analysing it and entering it!

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

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