Watch our video to see why our specialists love Costa Rica...
Blog: Kids Saving the Rainforest
During a trip to Costa Rica back in May, Latin America specialist Scarlett visited the Kids Saving the Rainforest Wildlife Reserve and Sanctuary – a project developed by Janine Licare and Aislin Livingstone when they were just 9 years old. Hearing how the two young girls had been moved to save the rainforest of Costa Rica left Scarlett utterly inspired and wowed after her visit to the sanctuary.
If you have ever been to Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, you may have noticed blue hanging ropes mapping the entire area, draping over trees and hanging across roads. After a visit to the Kids Saving the Rainforest Wildlife Reserve and Sanctuary I found out that these ropes were in fact monkey bridges and were an aid to protect monkeys – keeping them off the road and preventing them from being electrocuted by power cables. Since this idea was put in place the population of the once endangered titi monkey has more than doubled, which is an outstanding achievement.
What’s even more amazing is that this whole idea was developed by two young girls who saw the rainforest around them being destroyed and wanted to put a stop to it. From making plastic bits and bobs to sell in one of their mother’s shops to planting one tree after another, they have been focused on raising money to protect the surrounding environment and coming up with methods to implement this. With their passion and determination they have had an amazing impact on the ecosystem that surrounds them. Fifteen years on, this organisation is now a thriving Wildlife Reserve and Sanctuary.
The running of the program is overseen by Jennifer Rice, the mother of one of the girls. When I was out in Costa Rica in May she was kind enough to whiz us around the reserve and tell us about the history of this project, as well as introducing us to some of the amazing animals on site who have been rescued. The reserve is dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of animals of the rainforest and through the help of volunteers from around the world they have successfully released hundreds of these animals who had once been abandoned, sick or injured back into the wild. Over 50% of the animals brought to the reserve are released back into the wild, which is really impressive! As well as saving the animals their aim is to raise awareness and educate the local people about the positive steps they can take in order to have a huge impact on saving the rainforest.
Walking around the reserve, it’s easy to see why so many volunteers jump at the chance to take part in helping with the animals or getting involved with projects to raise money and spread KSTR’s mission statement. The place is bouncing with energy and the love and passion that goes into keeping the reserve alive is infectious. This project takes the sad topic of the rainforest’s struggle and turns it into a positive story of what we can do to make a difference. Walking around the enclosures and seeing volunteers and staff interact with these animals is heart-warming and the contribution they have made to helping save the rainforest is significant.
I was lucky enough to meet two baby sloths who had been brought to KSTR as orphans. I say I met them, but what I really mean is I observed them through a glass wall; the sloths themselves were well out of my reach as the project is careful to keep human interaction with the animals to a minimal. Like human babies, baby sloths depend on their mother for survival, so KSTR have an ongoing project where qualified volunteers get to play ‘mum’ until the sloths are strong enough and ready to live independently in the wild. Looking after them is one thing but releasing them back into the wild and giving them their life back is magical.
As the Reserve continues to grow they have expanded in the range of different animals that have been brought to them – they have looked after spider monkeys, white-faced capuchins, squirrel (titi) monkeys, marmosets, tamarins, kinkajous and the list goes on… This place stole my heart and I highly recommend that anyone thinking of going to Costa Rica should take a tour around the sanctuary, or, if you are prepared to get your hands dirty, volunteer for the day and you can help save the rainforest too! Check out their website for ways to volunteer or donate.