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HomeCosta RicaThe Costa Rica Wildlife Foundation champions the preservation of manatees

The Costa Rica Wildlife Foundation champions the preservation of manatees

The Costa Rica Wildlife Foundation (CRWF) is promoting a plan to protect manatees, which have been Costa Rica’s national symbol since 2014.

Unfortunately, the species is highly threatened by illegal fishing and pollution. Therefore, through the Seacow Conservation program, the foundation has conducted several bioacoustics studies with the Barra del Colorado community.

This has allowed “the identification of core feeding, passage, and threat sites for local manatee populations.”

“Scientific information, accompanied by local knowledge, lets us understand when and which areas of the Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge manatees use the most. We can implement efficient solutions with more precision and reach coexistence with the species,” Sofia Pastor-Parajeles, Coexistence Planning and Operation Coordinator, who has been leading the Seacow program since 2020.

According to the EFE news agency, the study showed that the main threats affecting the manatee are “collision with motorboats, illegal fishing that traps young individuals in trammel nets, and sedimentation and soil erosion of riparian forests due to logging and cattle ranching.”

The results urged foundation members and the local community to act immediately. Four preventive signs were placed in the most used sites by the manatee population, which also coincide with the main boat transit routes.

Community member Lucy Abraham said she expects “these signs to start having impact immediately.”

“It is a privilege, and I am proud to say that there are manatees in Barra del Colorado. We must protect them even more because they are an attraction that can make my small town grow,” Abraham noted.

Sofia Pastor, from Seacow Conservation, told EFE that their “mission is to seek the prevalence of wild animal populations and preserve the health of their habitat with active actions based on conservation from the community, in an integrated process.”

In Costa Rica, manatees are found throughout the Caribbean, particularly in the Sixaola River, Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge, Pacuare River lagoons, Tortuguero National Park lagoons, and Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge.

The foundation hopes to continue working with different communities to safeguard the species throughout the area. 

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