Kids Saving the Rainforest and Blue Banyan Inn: A Symbiotic Relationship

Blue Banyan Inn

Did you know that Kids Saving the Rainforest manages a Bed & Breakfast to help raise funds to save the rainforest and wildlife in the area? We realize that very few people do!  KSTR has been managing the Blue Banyan Inn (BBI) for over 3 years now!

BBI consists of 3 luxury cottages with a panoramic view of the mountains, a spectacular swimming pool, and a beautiful restaurant for daily breakfasts, just10 minutes from Maxi Pali, 15 minutes from Quepos and Marina and 30 minutes from the National Park/main beach.

Even more great news, BBI lets volunteers use the gorgeous swimming pool whenever they have down-time! Plus there is a great labyrinth and even a nursery that grows food for sloths.  Internet is great with a KSTR tower. BBI also lets KSTR use the kitchen and restaurant where the volunteers have a group lunch daily from 12 – 1:30 PM.

To make it even sweeter, BBI offers the B&B lobby as a greeting area for KSTR’s tours, a refreshment area after the tours, and has lent space for KSTR set up a store to raise money for the wildlife in their care. KSTR also has a volunteer center (that can sleep up to 18 people) on the property, for volunteers residing on the property.

You can’t ask for a more generous opportunity than that and KSTR is extremely grateful!

Blue Banyan Inn (BBI) is owned by a family who actually live on the property. So it is a win-win situation and Kids Saving the Rainforest wants to thank the Braman/Thompson family for their generosity. And a special thanks to Chip and Jennifer for having the KSTR Wildlife Sanctuary and Rescue Center location on their property. Learn more at bluebanyaninn.com

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Happy New Year to All from Kids Saving the Rainforest!

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Even if you don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions, please do so this year by becoming more conscientious of saving energy so that we can all contribute to create a healthier planet!

The average American ecological footprint is 5 times more than other parts of the world. Living in Costa Rica, we use less, but it is always good for everyone to cut back.

Here are some ways to do so:

  1. Only boil the amount of water you want to use as it takes more energy to boil extra water that is not necessary.
  2. When you leave a room, make sure you turn off the lights, TV, fan, air conditioner, and stereo.
  3. Before throwing things away, make sure you can not use the item for something else, such as to reuse the wrapping paper of a gift, make birthday cards out of old ones you have, reuse containers, get shoes repaired, or get the broken machine fixed.
  4. Recycle cans, plastic bottles and glass containers.
  5. Take shorter showers, 5 minutes is great.       If you take 10-minute showers you could be wasting enough water to fill up a swimming pool and be creating 2,200 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions from the energy used to heat the water each year! Try setting the thermostat of your water heater to a lower temperature. Try buying a low-flow shower fitting to reduce the flow of water by 50%.
  6. Growing up in areas that did not have a lot of water to use, we learned to flush the toilet only when necessary, not after each use. We had a saying “If it’s yellow, let it mellow.” I think you get my drift! Another way to save water with the toilet is to fill a two-liter soda bottle with water and sink it into the tank. Then you will use 2 liters less each time you flush. If you are buying a new toilet, look for the HET (high-efficiency) label when purchasing. Not only will you save water but also your water bill will go down.
  7. If you are lucky enough to have a dishwasher, only run it when it is full and you will save up to 20 gallons of water a day.       If you wash dishes by hand, don’t run the water until you have to rinse. To wash, fill the sink with water so that you don’t waste water while you are washing. When rinsing do so as quickly as possible to save water.
  8. Use solar power wherever possible, only wash clothes in cold water, line dry clothes instead of using a dryer, when using a dryer, keep the filter clean, close curtains when the sun is beating in, clean you’re a/c’s filter regularly.

Everyone can make a difference. Now that you know how, do it to feel good about yourself and to make this a great planet to live on.

Have a great year from all of us at Kids Saving the Rainforest!

 

Making a Difference

Essay award winner Jennifer Mooney and Daughter Ella Quepolandia Sept 2015By Volunteer Anne Hill

Jennifer Mooney came to Costa Rica with a desire to see “a real jungle.” She left with a desire to change the world.

After traveling to Manuel Antonio and learning about the efforts of Kids Saving the Rainforest, Jen realized two things. The first was that the rainforest is a vital and vanishing resource that must be protected.

“My heart will forever remain with the amazing creatures of Costa Rica and their fight to survive in a world filled with change and development,” she noted.

The second was that children with a dream can make a profound difference. Inspired by the story of Janine Licare and Alison Livingstone, the two 9-year-olds who started KSTR in 1999 to protect the endangered rainforest ecosystem, she wanted to impart that same passion and courage to her 7-year-old daughter.

When she arrived back in the states, Jen took action. Her employer, Norwex, announced an essay competition to support non-profit organizations engaged in environmental protection efforts. A grant of $5,000 would be issued to the NGO nominated by the employee who wrote the winning essay. In an impassioned commentary, Jen wrote of the work of KSTR, describing its Monkey Bridge program, sanctuary, and efforts to protect and rehabilitate endangered animals in the Costa Rican rainforest, and to preserve and restore the native habitat.

In her essay, Jen wrote: “KSTR’s efforts with both animal rehabilitation and release, as well as rainforest conservation, no doubt contribute to quality of life improvement, not just for the Manuel Antonio/Quepos area but globally as well. I am grateful to them for all they do and know that if the world’s rainforests are not preserved, the entire world will suffer great loss.”

Last week, Jen learned that her essay had won the competition. Because of her effort, KSTR will receive a $5,000 grant to support its facilities and procure additional acreage.

But Jen didn’t stop at the macro level. She set out to encourage the kids in her daughter Ella’s Girl Scout troop to follow Janine’s and Alison’s example. She shared with them the story of KSTR and encouraged them to come up with their own ideas for changing the world.

“I wanted my daughter and her fellow Brownies to follow the example of Janine and her friend and recognize the importance of a dream and how great an impact you can make on people, animals and the world if you apply creativity, perseverance and heart to that dream.”

If you would like to know more about Kids Saving The Rainforest, please visit us on Facebook,  log onto our website at http://www.kidssavingtherainforest.org, or take a Wildlife Sanctuary Tour where 100 percent of the profits go to saving the rainforest.  Contact info@kstr.org for more information.

KSTR Thanksgiving Updates

KSTR has a lot to be thankful this year! 

We have been able to continue our mission of saving the rainforest and the wildlife in it a day at a time!  We want to thank those of you who have supported us through the years, and to give people visiting a chance to help too by taking a tour of our Sanctuary, where 100% of the proceeds go to the wildlife in our sanctuary.  See below for more information.

KSTR’s wildlife educational tour is growing by leaps and bounds.  The tour is from 9 to 12 Noon every day except Tuesdays.  You will get to see lots of wildlife that cannot be released back into the wild and you will have a view of a baby sloth eating breakfast behind the clinic windows.
After the tour you can shop in our store, eat a delicious snack and swim in a beautiful pool before heading out.  Transportation is included: Adults $60 Kids under 12, $45.  And the best news is that 100% of the proceeds go to feed, treat, and enrich the wildlife in the sanctuary!  So come out to the tour and help us to save the rainforest all at the same time!!  Contact Chip at chip@kstr.org or call 4033-0091

We also have great news for sloth lovers out there:

We have a new position for a volunteer/intern in our sloth nursery!  We have lots of baby sloths that need care!  It is a volunteer position so there is a fee of $800 per month for room and board at our beautiful location, http://www.bluebanyaninn.com, and we need someone for 6 months. This is a dream position so hurry up and apply!  There is no university in the world that could teach you what you will learn with us for a lot less money than a university!  Contact sam@kidssavingtherainforest.org for more information.

KSTR and The Sloth Institute (TSI) are helping to save more and more orphaned sloths and release them into the wild.  The release location is up and running at Tulemar! (Not open to the public)

America’s PBS (Public Broadcasting System) bought the rights to BBC1’s hit 2 part series featuring KSTR. It was shown in September to a very successful following.  It is called Nature’s Miracle Orphans, a Second Chance (You can find it here).

KSTR has received a very generous donation of land to reforest 45,000 trees. The land was a teak farm and KSTR will be reforesting with indigenous and fruit trees to provide a corridor for the squirrel monkeys as well as other wildlife.  The new rainforest will also have trees to provide them shelter, plus insects and fruit in the trees that they can eat.  KSTR will harvest the fruit to feed the wildlife in their care at our rescue center and sanctuary.   Finalization of the property transfer will be in April, which is the start of rainy season so it will be the perfect time to start planting saplings.

KSTR is in the process of creating an educational center to house more volunteers, interns, students, biologists, wildlife vets, and researchers. This is a very exciting project that will help save the rainforest in many new ways!

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Tales from the Wildlife Rescue Center

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Raising and Preparing a Kinkayou for a Life in the Wild
By Pia Martin DVM, KSTR Wildlife Vet

Kinkayous (Potos flavus) and in Spanish “Martillas”, are medium size mammals (40-55cms long, weighing 2-3kg), brownish colored from the Procyonid family. This means they are nocturnal, live in pairs or by themselves and are arboreal and terrestrial; just like raccoons (Procyon lotor) and coatis (Nasua narica). However, they have unique characteristics that make them very special in the rainforest. For example: although they are categorized as carnivores, they do not eat meat. Their diet is basically fruits, flowers, and rarely they will eat a bird’s egg or an insect. They have a 5 inch tongue that helps them get nectar from flowers making them pollinators. Their ankles and wrists can rotate more than most mammals helping them climb up and down trees and walk in branches easily. They also have a long prehensile tail that can wrap itself around a branch and hold on to most of the animal’s weight so it can hang and reach for a fruit in a lower branch.

They are endangered due to the loss of their habitat (deforestation, forest fragmentation, civilization), they were hunted for food in the past and also to use their coat as the bristles in paintbrushes. They are also caught and sold in the pet trade. Here in Manuel Antonio, kinkajous are common but difficult to observe since they only come out at night and stay mainly in the trees. Their main threats are electrocutions, being hit by cars, and attacks by dogs.

Last year we received a very small, furry animal with a huge head; small eyes and long tail. It was a newborn kinkajou found by a woman in Parrita who was walking towards her house and spotted him on the ground by himself. She gave him to MINAET and they brought him to us.

Raising a kinkajou is definitely a extraordinary situation. At first we had to syringe feed him formula with probiotics, and he slept all day and all night. As he was growing we changed to a bottle and started introducing fruits and veggies, and put him into a playpen with stuffed animals, branches, ropes, and live trees.

Now, that he feeds on his own, is very active at night, and he is starting to search for his independence, we are beginning to do a soft release. Every night, the animal caretaker and me, open his cage and let him come out. He follows us into the jungle, just like he would follow his mom. We are training him to explore the world, search for his food using his sense of smell, hide from predators or unknown noises and get away from people. We are letting him climb up very tall trees and develop strong muscles in his hind legs, forearms, and tail so that he will feel secure moving in the canopy of the trees. Every time he achieves a little challenge we give him a prize- a small piece of grape or really sweet mango. It is difficult since we have to do it at night and we are always looking out for snakes and also afraid that he might run away before he is ready and that we will not be able to catch him.

But for the time being, he is still used to us so he is not leaving yet; but when the time comes and he knows how to find food, shelter, and company, he will leave and follow his instinct. We just need to prepare him well to survive and reproduce in the rainforest, just as he was meant to be; free and happy.

Q&A: The Rainforest, Pollution, & Environmental Conservation

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with Biologist Rebecca Fox and questions from

Medea Creek Teen Club in Oak Park, CA

1.    What are the downsides of living in the rainforest? Why?

Humidity! It is very difficult to air dry clothing. Some electronics like cameras or laptops are affected by the extreme humidity.  There are so many living things here, that you can find scorpions in your shoes, plants growing in your washing machine and mold on anything made from leather if you do not use them for a few days.

2.    How does the greenhouse effects effect the rainforest’s ecosystem

The trees in the rainforest convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. With increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the current number of trees in the rainforest cannot convert it fast enough. When rainforest is cut down or burned, all the carbon dioxide collected by the trees during their lifetime returns to the atmosphere. Rising global temperatures can disrupt the life cycles of plants. They can start to produce flowers and fruit at different times of the year and this in turn affects the animals that rely on these plants as a food source. If the change in global temperature is slow, some plants and animals may have time to adapt to a new environment. Others may migrate towards the poles as their habitat becomes too hot. If the temperature increases quickly, they will not have a chance to adapt or migrate, and many species in the tropics will go extinct.

3.    How does the evolution of our world (i.e. cars, planes, etc.) effect the growth of our rainforests?

As globalization and technology advances, there is more demand for resources from rainforests. To manufacture smartphones, a mineral called Coltan is needed. The number one source of this mineral is located under the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the process of extracting the mineral from the earth the rainforest is cut down and rivers are polluted. This rainforest is home to the critically endangered mountain gorilla, whose small population is now even more threatened due to the mining for smartphone minerals.

4.    How does pollution effect the evolution of species?

If pollution significantly alters the environment of a species, it can push that species to either adapt to the new conditions or to die. During the industrial revolution in England it was noticed that a new variety of peppered moth developed. Before the revolution a white bodied moth was commonly seen. Once large scale coal burning began and entire towns were polluted by soot, a black bodied moth began replacing the white peppered moth. This newly emerged species was named Biston betularia f. carbonaria, after the polluting substance that prompted its evolution. Any change in the environment can have an effect on the evolution of species, the difference with pollution is that we can control it.

5.    What would happen is army ants go extinct? Would the animals that depend on army ants (i.e. birds) adapt to their new life or would they die?

Different species of birds source their food from army ant raids. There are ‘obligate antbirds’ that rely completely on the activity of army ants for all of their food. Without army ants they do go extinct. Some other birds feed opportunistically on insects disrupted by army ants. In Monteverde, Costa Rica many species of passing migratory birds do follow army ants for food. This means that if army ants went extinct here in Costa Rica you might notice the disappearance of migratory thrushes or warblers in California.

6.    How much of the rainforest is still undiscovered or mysterious?

It is difficult to give an accurate measurement. Scientists estimate that there are still 30,000 plant species that we have not identified, and most of them will be found in rainforests. In 2005 some scientists looking at Mozambique on Google Earth came across a huge patch of rainforest surrounded by savannah. There was no information about this rainforest known to science. They went to explore this mysterious rainforest and on their first expedition discovered 10 new species including butterflies, snakes and chameleons.

7.    Judging by how much rain we have, how will the rainforest survive and how long will it still be a good habitat for animals?

The rainforest used to cover 14% of the earth’s land surface, today it just covers 6%. The rainforest is disappearing so quickly due to logging for wood and paper or agriculture. The future survival of the rainforest does not depend so much on the changing amounts of rainfall, it depends on the rate at which humans continue to destroy it. If we continue to destroy the rainforest at similar rates, 80-90% of the rainforest will disappear in the next 40 years. Over half of all animal and plant species on earth live in the rainforest. When their habitat disappears, so will they.

8.    With the animals going extinct because of pollution and the cutting of trees, how will it affect us?

Animals and plants of the rainforest may hold the secrets to curing many human diseases. 25% of modern medicines come from substances found in the rainforest. Right now scientists are studying the algae found on sloths as it may have the potential to kill cancer cells. Animals and plants in the rainforest are interdependent. Animals that act as pollinators, soil regenerators or seed dispersers are vital in the survival of many different types of plants that humans like to eat. If the bats, monkeys, birds and ants of the rainforest disappear, some foods like cashews, figs, avocados, vanilla and chocolate may disappear too or become very rare and expensive.

9.    The trees with rubber sap inside- when do you think that those types of trees will go extinct because of cutting them down too much?

When a natural resource is highly valued by people, such as the rubber from rubber trees, it is usually cultivated instead of being taken from the wild trees in the forest. This means that it is unlikely that the rubber tree will go extinct because people will keep planting them to harvest the rubber. Large rubber tree plantations can have a bad effect on the rainforests of Southeast Asia. There, the rainforest is cut down to make room for rubber plantations and this is pushing species such as the clouded leopard, macaques and gibbons towards extinction.

10.    How does the survival of the fittest apply to the rainforest?

Animals and plants that are best adapted to the rainforest environment will live long enough to reproduce and their species will be more likely to survive. This means they need to be well adapted to the high temperatures, high humidity and frequent rainfall. As the rainforest is cut down and the habitat becomes a mixture of rainforest patches with pastures for cattle and agricultural plantations, those animals that can survive in this new environment will survive longer. For example, here in Costa Rica the squirrel monkeys can live in fragmented rainforest and travel through agricultural lands, however the spider monkeys need large areas of untouched primary rainforest to survive.

What Should You Do If You Find A Wild Animal In Need?

Slide1By María Pía Martín, DVM, Wildlife Veterinarian, Kids Saving The Rainforest

Kids Saving The Rainforest has a Wildlife Rescue Center. It works in coordination with the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Technology (MINAET) to look after the wellbeing of native wild animals. Thanks to Good Samaritans we are able to rescue sick, injured or orphan animals, rehabilitate them and then release them back to the wild.

In Costa Rica, many people with the best intentions find animals in need and want to help. The best option is to take the animal to an experienced veterinarian with permission of MINAET.

The first step is to determine if the animal is really in need. Is this animal unable to feed, to hide, or to get away? Is it bleeding? Has it been electrocuted? Has it been run-over by a car? Is it vomiting or does it have diarrhea?
If you answer yes any of these questions then the animal probably is in need of help.

Is it an orphan?
It’s important to do a correct identification of the species and then look for information about their behavior.
For example, some parents leave their baby by itself while they are looking for food, like deer. In other cases, the lonely animal is just looking for a mate, like male monkeys leave their troop for some time until they find a female from another troop (genetic diversity) to procreate. However, in other species, moms can leave their baby behind if they feels it is sick (like sloths), so sufficient time should always be given to allow the mom to come back.
Please call us if you see a baby by itself, we will gladly help you search for the best option.

What do I do if I find a sick or injured animal?
When you are going to grab it be very careful, remember that they are wild animals and are extremely frightened of people.  They may either run away (injured) or attack you. You can use a thick towel or leather gloves to protect yourself. Do not touch them with your bare hands; animals have diseases that may be transmitted to people. I recommend using latex gloves always and wash thoroughly with soap afterwards.
Place it in a box appropriate for its size with a dry and clean towel and keep it in a dark and calm place. Please call us to assist you in the next step.

Should I feed it? Should I give it any medication?
Please don’t. You may offer clean fresh water in a dish. Remember to keep it calm, away from dogs, cats, and other people while you find professional help.

The Wildlife Rescue Center’s number is 2777-2948, English and Spanish spoken.