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Monkeys under pressure

Howler monkeys are the main stars of the local fauna and are the most frequent models for tourist’s photographs.
They are adorable, peaceful creatures that are not fearful of venturing into urban areas.
Sadly for them, their roads are the tree tops and as humans develop more areas trees become less numerous and the traditional routes of these primates are interrupted resulting on breaking the connection between one tree and the next.
When this happens, the monkeys replace the missing tree with the use of electrical cable and frequently receive electrical shocks that hurt them seriously or even kill them.

Organized to put a stop to the problem.
To help in the prevention of this sad situation in communities such as Tamarindo, Playas del Coco and Playa Hermosa among other, citizens have formed groups dedicated to finance and install monkey bridges in the locations where their route has been cut off.  More recently the University of Costa Rica, in alliance with electric companies such as ICE and Coopeguanacaste, has been conducting studies and collecting information to be able to make better decisions and create solutions.
As complimentary measures to the bridges, devises have been installed to prevent the monkeys from climbing the electrical posts and the traditional biological corridors are being reforested with the purpose of giving back safe routes to the animals.

In search of a more definitive solution, Lisa Bradshaw of Save Coco’s Monos in Playas del Coco has been working in alliance with Coopeguanacaste to take a step forward through the installation of insulated wire at the most sensible crossing points.  “To date, over 900 feet of “naked’ cable have been replaced at several critical points and there have been no more electrocutions at those sites” Lisa Bradshaw tells us.
The installation of insulated cable is a more expensive solution but clearly it’s more definitive, establishing a barrier between the electricity and the animals, thus eliminating the possibility of electrocution.

“Unfortunately the monkeys don’t always use the bridges we have installed. It’s difficult to change the behavior of the packs so we wanted to find a foolproof solution and this seemed to us like the best option” says Lisa.
“Coopeguanacaste has helped us with the installation of the bridges and more recently with the replacement of the cable, but for the moment they don’t have the budget available for this type of covered cable at over twice the cost of the  “naked” cable.  For this reason, it still depends on whether the communities can cover the expense” she adds.

Coopeguanacaste confirmed this and explained that for reasons of budget restriction, it has not been possible to extend this practice to more points on the network, but that they are already considering using this type of cable when they lay new cable in ecologically sensitive areas.
“We are committed to work with all the communities and to respond to the needs that may arise” explains Marisol Arias from Coopeguanacaste.

“We have our crews and cranes at the service of the communities to attend to these situations and to help in the installation of bridges or insulated wire and as of today we have installed a total of 140 bridges and hundreds of feet of covered cable.  We are closely monitoring the incidence of accidents and trouble related to the fauna, carrying out reforestation, strategic pruning, insulation of transformers and several other actions to tackle the problem.  The alliance with the UCR has allowed us to learn much about the behavior of the packs and is helping us to give better advice for the decision making in this respect” she adds.

Obviously the definitive solution is not so simple nor will it arrive overnight.
In the meantime, the communities are welcome to become involved and contribute information and new resources for bridges and insulated cable.  The organized groups depend entirely on fundraising and contributions from the private citizens and businesses. Each community and you are invited to contribute your grain of sand, hopefully many!

Coopeguanacaste channels the information and applications through their Environmental Services Department:
2680 9292

Organizations such as:
- SalveMonos en Tamarindo
- SaveCoco’s Monos de Playas del Coco
- Salve Monos Playa Hermosa
- Refugio Animales de Nosara
- Monkey Park Foundation

Need resources and volunteers to continue helping our primate friends.

Put one hand on your heart and the other in your pocket.  Then contact these groups and help them finance bridges and insulated cabling.  Your support will help to save the lives of many animals!

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