Planting 100 trees in a morning

A family comes together to plant trees

Last week chief sloth botanist and director of the Connected Gardens Project met with a local family at their beautiful property in the South Caribbean region of Costa Rica. This family are originally from the busy and cosmopolitan city of Santiago in Chile, but they made the decision to relocate to Costa Rica about 3 years ago.

Their decision to move was driven by a desire to escape from a noisy city and to be in better contact with nature. As it turns out, in Costa Rica you can wake up to the sounds of howler monkeys howling, toucans singing, and perhaps even a sloth hanging outside your window!

This particular family contacted us here at The Sloth Conservation Foundation because they were interested in participating in our urban reforestation program When they originally bought their property it was already largely cleared of trees. This is good for construction because you have plenty space to build your house, but of course it is a disaster for the local wildlife.

Three people next to a car with trees
Damian and his parents, Denise and Rony, transporting some trees.

 

Losing touch with wildlife

In recent years, the once continuous forest canopy in this area has been fragmented into little pockets. Due to the pressures of urbanization and development, a lot of trees have been cut down and tree-dwelling animals like sloths are now forced to travel on the ground (or even worse – on the power lines). Both options are very dangerous: power line electrocutions, dog attacks and road traffic collisions are now the leading causes of death for sloths in Costa Rica.

dog with a sloth
A dog carrying a sloth in Playa Chiquita/ Photo: JRC

The aim of our Connected Gardens Project is to reforest urban areas and bring back the canopy connectivity for wildlife by planting trees and installing artificial canopy bridges. Currently we have connected over 20 properties in the regions of Hone Creek, Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo in the Limon province of Costa Rica.  And this is just the beginning: our goal for 2020 is to plant 5000+ sloth-friendly trees!

Some of the treelings ready to be planted!
Some of the saplings ready to graduate from the SloCo forest nursery and be planted!

 

Safety First

In Costa Rica the rainforest canopy can reach 30-40 meters in height – trees in the jungle can grow VERY tall. When trees this tall begin to die, they can fall easily and cause property damage, injuries or even fatalities. Sadly there were some magnificently large trees that were starting to show signs of death on the families property. “We had no other choice but to chop them down” they explained.

fallen tree destroy house
Unfortunately, to prevent disasters like this, people have to remove big branches and unsafe trees from their properties/ Photo: La Nación

 

An important tree for the neighborhood

Unfortunately the trees that the family removed were important for the movement of wildlife in the area – in particular for a family of Howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata). The troop of monkeys in question are famous in the local area: one of their alpha members is a female called Conga that was rescued as an orphan and raised by the Jaguar Rescue CenterAfter Conga’s release 7 years ago she joined this troop of wild monkeys and so far has raised 6 babies of her own.

monkey with baby
Conga with one of her babies.  /Photo JRC

Once a month, Conga and her troop pass through the families property, but without the trees they are now forced to travel on the ground. Thankfully the family don’t own dogs or cats: “we love them – we used to have pets in Santiago – but here we understand that our pets can be a big threat to wildlife”. If they had a dog, it is likely that a member of Conga’s family would have been killed already.

The property is also close to an important patch of forest: the family have confirmed the presence of boas, toucans, both species of Costa Rican sloth, squirrels, kinkajous, opossums and many different species of tropical birds. “We also noticed that after we removed the old trees, the presence of wildlife has diminished” the family explained.  We decided that they were the perfect candidates for the Connected Gardens Project.

A single rope Sloth Crossing wildlife bridge
Although reforestation is the main goal of the project, artificial rope bridges like this can help to mitigate the problem for wildlife until the trees grow tall enough.

 

Planting Sangrillos for monkeys, Cecropia for sloths and Almonds for macaws

The primary species of tree chosen to fill the gap on this property were ‘Sangrillos’. The Sangrillo (Pterocarpus officinalis) is an important native tree that can reach over 30 meters in height and is well known for its red sap. When the tree is cut, it looks like it is bleeding – hence the name Sangrillo which is Spanish for “blood”. Sangrillo trees have medicinal properties: the sap is used to treat wounds and they are very important for sloths because they rely on the leaves for food.

Other important species of tree that we planted on the property include Guarumo (Cecropia spp) –  a fast growing tree that is essential for the diet of three-fingered sloths and the Mountain Almond (Dipterix panamensis) – vital for the development of the Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus). These magnificent birds are sadly highly endangered due loss of habitat and the illegal pet trade.

seeds
Mountain Almond seeds waiting to sprout at the SloCo forest nursery

 

Helping two endangered species at once

The Mountain Almond tree is also an endangered species itself due logging: the timber is very strong and it is widely used for the construction of houses.  The loss of this species is directly related to the struggling Great Green Macaw: the birds depend on this tree for food and nesting.

For our Connected Gardens Project in the South Caribbean region, the Mountain Almond is a fundamental tree to include: the Great Green Macaw was once considered extinct in in this area of Costa Rica until the Ara project stepped in. They have now bred and reintroduced over 45 individual birds which are now reproducing successfully in the wild!

great green macaw
There are only 1500 Great Green Macaws left in the wild/ Photo: charliedoggett.net

 

With a little help from our friends

Once we had selected the appropriate trees, Damian, his mother Denise, his Father Rony and their gardener Romario all helped us to plant them. These are some of the tree species that we considered to be of ecological importance to the ecosystem of this area:

Guarumo (Cecropia spp) x 10
Papaya (Carica papaya) x 10
Mountain Almond (Dipterix panamensis) x 35
Caimito (Chrysophyllum cainito) x 1
Surá (Terminalia oblonga) x 2
Cedro (Carapa guianensis) x 1
Ojoche (Brosium alicassum) x 10
Sangrillo (Pterocarpus oficinallis) x 10
Guanacaste (Enterolobium cyclocarpum) x 4
Anona (Anona syamosa) x 10
Beach Grape (Coccoloba uvifera) x 1
Coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) x 5
Black Manú  (Minquartia guianensis) x 1

All of these trees were planted in only one morning by five people! Obviously it is going to take some time for these trees to reach the size necessary to connect with the adjoining canopy, but the most important part as been done: planting them. While these trees are growing, we will continue with our mission. We will temporarily connect the canopy gap with an artificial bridge to help the sloths and monkeys travel without having to risk their lives on the ground. We will maintain this bridge until the trees can grow enough to fill the gap naturally!

hands planting treeling
We need to plant millions of trees to mitigate Climate Change. Each one counts!

 

A story to share

We were so happy to work with Damian, Denise, Rony and Romario. We are also grateful for them opening their house to us and to the wonderful wildlife of this little corner of the planet. We think that sharing stories like this – stories of people who want to make a difference in their own way – is important to show how we all have the power to make change.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)

four people standing one has a tree
Romario, Rony, Denise and Damian changing the world one tree at a time.

Maybe it is time to reconsider the concept of an unfriendly garden that excludes animals and plants. Maybe it is time to reconnect our urban environments with nature. Much better than a boring grass lawn (or even worse – a PLASTIC fake grass lawn) is an edible garden with native trees, animals, bees, hummingbirds, monkeys and sloths! We are a species with the capacity to modify the landscape, but what if we integrate with it instead?

That is what the Connected Gardens Project is all about.

All trees planted and bridges built by us are free to the people that sign up to the project. We don’t receive any financial support from the government and so we rely entirely on the generous help of our supporters to carry out all of our conservation programs. If you would like to contribute to help us safeguard a future for sloths then you can do so here: MAKE YOUR DIFFERENCE 

 

 

New Sloth Crossing Wildlife Bridges

This month we are delighted to have installed 2 new Sloth Crossing wildlife bridges in the South Caribbean region of Costa Rica!

‘Sloth Crossings’ are artificial bridges that we install between trees to link fragmented habitats together and allow wildlife a safe route of passage. Behind power line electrocutions, the biggest threats to the survival of wild sloths in Costa Rica are dog attacks and road traffic collisions. Both occurrences stem from habitat fragmentation forcing sloths to descend to the floor and crawl across the ground where they are extremely vulnerable. In order to keep the sloths safely up in the trees and away from danger, we build Sloth Crossing bridges across roads and in places where the once-continuous rainforest has been disturbed by development.

FINDING A MATE

These wildlife bridges also mitigate a much less talked about problem – inbreeding. Sloths are very vulnerable to habitat loss because it makes travelling to find a mate very difficult. As the world’s slowest mammal, sloths cannot run nor jump, and so any gap in the forest canopy represents a major barrier to movement.

Image of sloth crossing road
A sloth risks it’s life to cross a road – a daily sight in the South Caribbean of Costa Rica

Why is this a problem? Well it is very important that sloths are able to move far enough away from their immediate relatives to avoid accidentally breeding with them in the future. When inbreeding happens, it causes something called ‘a loss of genetic diversity’ in the population, and this is really bad news for the health of wild sloths. All species rely on genetic diversity for survival because it allows them to evolve in response to things such as changing environmental conditions, shrinking habitats, or new diseases. Inbred offspring are also more likely to be born with fertility issues and physical deformities. If you have a small patch of forest in a semi-urban area, and it is surrounded by roads and development, then the sloths living in that patch of forest are going to become isolated and will breed with each other over generations. Throughout the South Caribbean region, we are already starting to see the detrimental effects of inbreeding on the genetic health of wild sloth populations, with young sloths frequently being born with congenital defects (including missing digits, malformed limbs, jaw deformities, albinism etc.). As a part of our sloth conservation efforts we have been researching this issue over the last 6 years and we will be publishing the scientific paper later this year. Click here to read more about our sloth genetics projects!

Baby sloth with deformities
Sloths are being born with physical deformities due to inbreeding caused by habitat fragmentation. This sloth has missing fingers.

BRIDGING THE GAP

Our most basic Sloth Crossing design consists of a single rope secured between two hardwood trees. We then grow carefully chosen species of native vine (which can grow up to 3 feet per day and reach a diameter of over 1 foot) along the rope, which will eventually create a natural bridge for wildlife. This is the cheapest and easiest option, but does have some drawbacks. The maximum distance that we can span with a single rope is limited to about 30 meters and some animals do not like to use this style of bridge. We suspect this is because the rope moves too much which makes them nervous, and they likely feel very exposed and vulnerable while crossing without any canopy cover.  Our more extensive design consists of support posts and a flat metal grid, along which we grow plants and vines. The added stability and vegetation cover make this an optimal choice for wildlife, however building costs are higher and logistics of installation more difficult.

A single rope Sloth Crossing wildlife bridge
A single rope Sloth Crossing wildlife bridge

For all of our Sloth Crossing installations we like to monitor what animals use the bridges by using camera trap technology. These special wildlife cameras are programmed to start recording video whenever the sensors detect heat or movement. Unfortunately, however, we have discovered that sloths move too slowly to trigger the motion detector, and their body temperature is too low to trigger the heat sensor! They sneak past undetected! We are still trying to find cameras that will work for detecting sloths when they use our Sloth Crossing canopy bridges.

camera trap on a sloth crossing
We use camera traps to monitor the use of the bridges by different species
Installing a new Sloth Crossing canopy bridge
Installing a new Sloth Crossing canopy bridge

Thank you to our community partners and to all of our supporters who make this work possible – we couldn’t do it without you!

We would like to extend special thanks to Tasty Dayz Hostel and Geckoes Lodge for hosting the latest Sloth Crossing bridges on their properties! Community participation and support is essential to the success of any conservation effort, and we strive to maintain a strong community-based approach to all of our programs. We have many more Sloth Crossings being built over the next few months, so we will be sure to provide further updates here as they happen!

SPONSOR A SLOTH CROSSING 

Each “sloth crossing” bridge costs $150 in raw materials to construct (in the most basic form: a single rope design without a camera trap). If you would like to help us to build more bridges (or personally sponsor your own sloth crossing), you can do so by donating via the PayPal link below (be sure to include your preference as “sloth crossings” in the optional box!




Sloth using a canopy bridge
Sloths sometimes get nervous using the single-rope design bridge

Tourism, selfies and animals: are you travelling responsibly?

The tourism industry is a huge business. By 2020 it is estimated that 1.5 billion people will be travelling the globe as tourists, but here we want to highlight a particular trend that is rapidly growing in popularity; ecotourism. As most of the human population now live in urban environments,  surrounded by concrete jungles, they have easily become disconnected from nature and the wildlife that it contains.

Ecotourism and green tourism are gaining popularity because they offer an opportunity for people to immerse themselves in the landscape, adventure, sports and of course animals. It allows us to get back to nature.

Ecotourism as a tool for conservation

Tourists arrive to a place looking for nature, this provides jobs and economic opportunities for local people, and thus local people make an effort to preserve the natural resource. A great example of this is the Pantanal in Brazil, where a new study published in Global Ecology and Conservation has revealed that jaguars are worth 60 times more to tourism than the cost the big cats inflict on ranchers.

www.pantanalsafaris.com
www.pantanalsafaris.com

Local communities are making the realization that jaguars are more profitable alive, and therefore ecotourism is starting to prevail above other economic activities that have a highly negative impact on the environment (such as logging, hunting or mining). It is a win for jaguars, a win for the environment and of course a win for the local people.

The dark side of wildlife contact and sloth selfies

Of course, not everything is great when we mix tourism and animals, and many times visitors are not aware of the negative environmental impact that some tourist activities can produce. The international NGO World Animal Protection estimates that around 110 million people a year visit attractions that offer entertainment with wild animals. This is a dangerous trend as over 550,000 wild animals are currently being held captive in order to supply the ever-increasing demand. In addition, photographs of people directly interacting with these wild animals often unintendedly endorse exploitation and mistreatment via social media.

The animals used have typically been snatched from their natural habitats, usually drugged, mutilated and are forced to survive in horrendous captive conditions.

(Note: Sloths do not sleep 20 hours!)

According to research completed by World Animal Protection (which counted the number of “selfies” showing people interacting with wild species that were published on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), since 2014 the number of photos showing people with wild animals increased by 292% on Instagram alone, and sadly more than 40% are photos where the person embraces, holds or interacts inappropriately with the animal.

selfie problem social media
Image by Nicolas Reusens/Getty Images

 

 

Going to an exotic destination this summer?

The situation in Latin America in particular is very alarming. It was found that 17 of the 20 countries that are part of the region pffer tourist attractions with wildlife. Of the 249 wildlife attractions identified, 54% offered direct contact with wild animals, 34% used food to attract to the animals and 11% gave the opportunity to swim with them. 40% of the selfies were taken by people from western Hemisphere including the United States, The UK and Canada. The situation is aggravated when celebrities share to their millions of followers their own photos hugging animals because some fans tend to emulate the behaviour of their influencers.

justin bieber tiger
Justin Bieber with a more than probably sedated tiger

 

The curse of being cute, slow and having a constant smile

The three-fingered sloth (Bradypus variegatus) is one of the most “liked” creatures in social media, occupying 3rd place in the most photographed species worldwide. It is therefore not surprising that these sloths are one of the most desired species for tourist who travel to Latin Americn countries. Due to the sloths delicate nature and physiology, they are very vulnerable to human contact and usually don´t survive more than a few weeks in these dreadful conditions of captivity and management.

Unfortunately 70% of sloth photos on Instagram show people hugging, holding or using them as accessories.

hug baby sloth
Baby sloths only need hugs provided by their mothers

 

Hugging selfies show animals as docile and friendly… And this makes people want them as pets.

The pictures of humans interacting with wildlife also encourages the idea that any species can be domesticated. Domestication is a very complex process, it took us more than 10.000 years to domesticate wolves into dogs! Certainly you won´t domesticate a sloth or any wild species in a couple of years, even generations.

And finally, these activities encourage illegal wildlife trafficking, either for the purpose of ecotourism or to acquire them as pets. This is exacerbated in the case of the three-fingered sloth whose reaction to physical contact is to remain paralyzed, which makes it a convenient animal to pose with and take such photographs.

In addition, the sloth´s characteristic and perpetual “smile” is often mistakenly assumed to be an expression of joy or happiness, rather than a simply result of the animal´s facial musculature and coloration. As a result of all of this, it is wrongly believed that they are good animals to have as pets.

The regions that maintain the most “exotic pets” are the United States and the European Union. Sloths are the most trafficked animal from Colombia causing (along with other associated problems such as deforestation and loss of habitat) the decline of individuals in that country. You can read more about the pet trade issue in our previous Thinking about a pet sloth? blog entry.

dislike animal abuse

 

Some sloths might not be so adorable…

Another related problem is the predisposition to invade the space of the animal in protected areas or national parks. Members of SloCo in the South Caribbean of Costa Rica have been witnesses over the past years to people bothering animals, offering them food and even breaking the branches to lower the sloths from trees.

The two-fingered sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni) differs from the three-fingered sloth in that it is capable of a fast and aggressive reaction, with long, sharp teeth that can cause a serious injury. By not realising this defensive behaviour of the animal, many people are also exposed to risks such as injuries or infection. In the following video you can see how hard it is (0:40 min)  for professionals and rescuers to remove a sloth in an urban area.

The way we travel matters: Be a Responsible traveller

The campaign #IamResponsibleTraveller seeks to promote awareness about these issues. Never pay or participate in activities where you can hold or touch wildlife, avoid attending shows that exploit animals and don’t purchase animal parts (“trinkets”) as souvenirs.

Being a responsible traveller is not only about being careful when you take a personal photograph without touching animals, it goes deeper than that.

I am responsible traveller
What responsible travellers do?

Consider travel as a learning opportunity

First of all, think of travelling as an incredible experience to understand other cultures, idiosyncrasies, being empathetic and not judgemental, and to connect with what makes us humans: the same fears, loves and hopes. And with the threat of Climate Change and a mass extinction event happening right now, we as humans need to be connected more than ever in our history.

As we have seen, bad tourism can produce a lot of suffering and harm – so how can we make a positive impact in the places we visit? It’s actually quite simple: learn some greeting words in the local language, be respectful with the culture, buy local and handcrafted products, share stories with members of the community, appreciate and care for the environment, the animals and the people… And always, apply the wildlife selfie code.

Wildlife Selfie Code
The best relationship with wildlife, is a long distance relationship.

Any small action can produce a big impact!

And when it comes to wildlife, visit shelters, rescue centers and sanctuaries in order to support conservation initiatives to reintroduce animals back into the wild. You can even apply for volunteering (voluntourism?)! But always do your research about these places, make sure that the “rescue center” is not a facade or a tourist trap!

And of course we highly recommend above all hiking and exploring the wild, and looking for the animals in their natural homes. After all, that´s the “real thing” and the best way to be in contact with nature.

But I still want to take a selfie with a sloth!

Ok, we understand, maybe a trip to the Amazon or the amazing rainforest of Costa Rica is a once in a lifetime opportunity and you really want to have a memento with your favourite animal. Just remember that you can still have a self portrait without hurting the animal or being part of the awful industry that exploitate them! Remember to always stick to the Selfie Code!

Sloth Selfie
And call the authorities if you see any animal exploitation

 

But what about my selfie stick?

Can I still use it to get my phone or camera to pose close to an animal? It won’t be ME next to the animal, just my device, so technically I’M not invading the personal space of the animal, right?… Well, you actually are.

selfie stick sloth
Not. Really.

 

When sloths open their arms like that, they are trying to look bigger, and they do this when they feel in danger, threatened of attacked. In other words, the sloth in the picture is showing a clear sign of stress. So even if you use an element like a selfie stick, you are still having direct contact with the animal. So keep it away too!

All of us together will make the difference to end animal cruelty

Incredible and ethical experiences of getting close wildlife are possible. For example you have the Pantanal in Brazil to see jaguars hunting caimans, or Costa Rica to see sea turtles nesting in tortuguero, you can even birdwatch in the park of your city! All of these activities are regulated, so there is a good tourism management in order to protect the environment and the resources. Make sure to always support sustainable tourist destinations, because YOU are the demand, so your choices are important.Responsible traveller

But you still feel hopeless when you see the number of people participating in tourist attractions based on animal exploitation? We have some good news: a lot of people once aware of the abuse behind these attractions are willing to change. Most of them are animal lovers, and as soon as they know the damage that their actions can cause, they stop supporting these places. 

In the South Caribbean of Costa Rica, SloCo is raising awareness of these issues by establishing permanent signage in high tourist areas to promote responsible “sloth tourism”, and to educate people on what they should do if they see a sloth being offered for holding or photo opportunities. You can read more about in The Pet Trade and Sloth Tourism blog entry.

The way we changed Instagram

Thanks to over 250,000 supporters of the Selfie Code Campaign by WAP, Instagram launched a “content advisory page”, to educate users about the issues these photos cause for wild animals. When users search for hashtags like #slothselfie, they will be presented with a warning message that tells them the “funny” selfies and photos they are searching for may be associated with encouraging harmful activities to animals.

The world is changing – less people support shows involving animals for entertainment and zoos are becoming scientific centers and sanctuaries. Tourism will change too: it is developing not to be a shallow activity, but to make people come together, to connect us with our humanity and with nature, that after all, is everything our civilization is standing on. So go on your vacations, enjoy your destination and love the animals and the people!

sloth4

#IamResponsibleTraveller

Spread the word, share the message! Make your family and friends join this campaign in order to protect wildlife from being harmed as a tourist attraction! #TheHugIsNotLove #RealLoversDontHug #Summer #BornToBeWild #DislikeAnimalAbuse #Selfie #Love #Sloth

Sloth diversity – Species

This week we celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity! Did you know that the sloths we see today only represent a very small amount of the sloth diversity that once existed? Just 6 species remain, 4 three-fingered sloth species in the Bradypodidae family and 2 species of two-fingered sloth in the Megalonychidae family. Yet the fossil record records over 50 sloth species spread over eight different families! These include the giant ground sloths which could reach over 7 meters in height!

22 biodiversity day

With over 1 million species now threatened with extinction, the loss of biodiversity now poses as much danger to life on Earth as climate change does. Click here to learn more about the endangered species of sloth and how you can help to save them from extinction!

Thinking about a pet sloth?

Sloths are rising in popularity as exotic pets, but please read this information if you are considering getting a pet sloth for yourself!

Firstly, sloths are wild animals – not domesticated pets. These wild animals maintain their natural instincts. They are also a solitary species that lives alone in the wild. That means that they do not like to be petted, groomed or bathed because these are not natural behaviours for them. Sloths are also prey animals, and a large human hand lurching forwards to stroke them can be incredibly stressful. This is further complicated because unlike many animals, sloths do not show obvious external signs of stress. Their natural response to fear or danger is to hold still, and as a result, it is difficult to tell when a sloth is scared or stressed. The animal may look perfectly happy to us – but the reality will probably be very different.

pet

The sad reality is, sloths that are sold as pets usually come from the wild. Even if the baby sloth was born in the US, it’s more than likely that the parents would have been taken from the wild several years earlier. Sloths are very slow to breed: the gestation period is 11 months, they only give birth to one baby at a time and this infant needs its mother’s milk for a long while after that. In the wild, baby sloths usually spend a full year with their mothers before reaching independence. This means that the sloths currently being held in captivity in the US cannot physically produce enough babies to meet the ever-increasing demand from people wanting pet sloths. So every year, hundreds of sloths are removed from the wild and shipped to the US from countries such as Venezuela and Ecuador where export laws are slack. These individuals are then forced to breed and the babies are sold into the pet trade at eye-watering prices. As a consequence of the pet trade demand, sloth numbers are crashing rapidly in the wild.

The ‘cuteness’ of a baby sloth is what everybody focuses on. The sad reality of the situation is often overlooked and this doesn’t just pose a threat to the sloths, but can also endanger the sloth owners themselves. Sloths might look fluffy but they are not teddy-bears – they are wild animals and they have big teeth. We have worked with hundreds of sloths over the years, (both wild and human-reared) and they can all inflict serious injuries if scared or irritated. We have seen a sloth bite through a human hand leaving a hole big enough that you could look through. When they reach independence (at the age of about 18 months ), even the most gentle of hand-reared sloths just do not want to be handled any longer. We suspect that many people are going to learn this the hard way and will find themselves with an expensive, hard-to-handle sloth that could live for up to 50+ years.

skull
The skull of a two-fingered sloth – sloths have big teeth and they like to use them!

The anthropomorphism, exploitation and desire to “own” wild animals is by no means an issue that is confined to sloths; indeed, many species are on the brink of extinction because of it. It’s also not a problem that is confined just to the pet trade; it is much bigger than that. It’s an issue of ethics and morality. We believe that the trouble lies in the way we, as humans, have historically seen ourselves as the dominant species, and the way in which we have morally justified our use of wild animals for centuries. Thankfully, this outdated attitude appears to be quickly changing in recent years and education is unequivocally the key. As the environmentalist Baba Dioum once famously said:

In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”

If you are considering getting a sloth as a pet, we desperately urge you to seek an alternative way to express your love for these amazing animals. You could volunteer at a reputable rescue center that works with injured and orphaned sloths (check out the Jaguar Rescue Center in Costa Rica), or you could symbolically adopt a sloth for yourself! If you have any questions about having a sloth as a pet or would like to speak to an expert about the topics we have discussed here, please email us at slothconservation@gmail.com. Alternatively, if you know someone who is seeking a pet sloth, please share this post with them!

Endangered Sloths – how can YOU help?

This week we are commemorating Endangered Species Day by taking a closer look at the two types of sloth that are currently threatened with extinction. There has never been a more important time for conservation action, with a UN report earlier this month declaring that over 1 million species are now at risk of extinction. The loss of species and habitats now poses as much danger to life on Earth as climate change does.

While this news is shocking, we still have good reason to be optimistic. Every single person has the power to save endangered species. The way that each of us shops, eats, and the small choices that we make in our everyday lives all influence the likelihood of many species surviving. Please don’t ever underestimate the collective impact of your daily actions!

Of the six species of sloth that exist today, two are threatened with extinction. The maned sloth is a bit of an oddball – a species of three-fingered sloth which boasts a mane like a lion! These elusive creatures now only exist in a tiny strip of Atlantic forest on the coast of Brazil and are currently listed as vulnerable due to habitat loss from lumber extraction, plantation clearance, agriculture and charcoal production. There is also some evidence to show poaching for both food and the pet trade. The maned sloths are larger and more aggressive than the other species of three-fingered sloth, and they are the only species in which males do not develop a brightly coloured “speculum” (an orange patch of fur on the back) at sexual maturity!

17 endangered maned

The second endangered species on our list is the pygmy sloths. This is a little species of three-fingered sloth that can only be found on a remote, uninhabited island off the coast of Panama and was only identified as a new species in 2001. They are thought to be approximately 40% smaller than their mainland counterparts and although the population size remains unknown, these little sloths are considered to be one of the most critically endangered mammals in the world. They average around 3 Kg in weight and are approximately 24 inches long, looking very similar to the brown-throated sloth.

 

17 endangered pigmy

If you would like to know what YOU can do to help save sloths from extinction, we have compiled a list of 7 simple ways that you can help sloths today!

Game of Sloths

This month we decided to combine our love of sloths with our love of Game of Thrones: Introducing the Game of Sloths!For this photo series SloCo graphic designer Cecilia Pamich has lovingly created a sloth version of all your favourite characters and their most famous quotes!

01 night king

It did take them 10 years to reach the wall…

02 jon slow

Of course!

03 Arya

… nor tomorrow!

04 Tyrion not easy

It takes a sloth 30 days to digest a single leaf – imagine eating lettuce all day and taking a month to digest it! Not so easy….

05 Not a quenn a kalazy

 

06 varys

If a sloth had a motto, this would be it!

07 jaime

 

08 slothraki

… and queen of the Seven Deadly Sins

09 Cersei

… or nap. Or swim surprisingly well!

 

10 slowdor

 

11 Tyrion thats what l do

 

12 chaos is a ladder

There are three-fingered sloths, two-fingered sloths and little-fingered sloths!

 

 

Sloth Education Outreach – YOU can help!

It is hugely important to us that the children who live alongside sloths – the children who will grow up to be responsible for future conservation efforts – know as much as possible about the wildlife that surrounds them, the challenges that sloths are facing and how they can help. We have a major education outreach event happening this month and we need YOUR help to make it happen! The education materials for one child to participate in our outreach program cost $5. Please consider donating by sponsoring a child: https://slothconservation.com/what-we-do/education-outreach/

“In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.”

class

 

Adopt a Sloth for Mother’s Day

Sloth fans in the United States – Mother’s Day is fast approaching! What better way to show your love and appreciation than by adopting a sloth in your mom’s name? We IMG_2564offer several different payment plans, and 100% of proceeds go directly towards funding our in-field sloth conservation efforts so it’s a double win!

Sloth babies fully rely on their moms to teach them how to survive in the canopy of the rainforest… just like your mom had to do when you were a baby (although hopefully with less time spent in a tree)! You can still get your virtual adoption package even if you order ON Mother’s Day, so don’t worry about being late.

See the sloths available for adoption by clicking here

You can help sloths today!

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

In celebration of Earth Day 2019, we have created a list of 7 simple things that you can do every day to help sloths – all from the comfort of your own home! One person at a time, one day at a time, and one project at a time, we all have the ability to make a serious difference that will leave a lasting impact on the world. Don’t ever underestimate the power that you have in your day-to-day actions! Here are some sloth-inspired ideas to get you started:

  • Choose your food carefully – The production and transport of food is very damaging to the environment, so eat locally grown food whenever possible!
  • Save your energy – turn off the lights, turn your computer off overnight, hang your clothes out to dry instead of using the drier, leave the car at home…. all of those little things that we do every day have a huge impact when we add them all up!download
  • Eat green – animal agriculture is the leading cause of rainforest destruction, so reducing your meat consumption is a great way to help! 
  • Go natural – say no to single use plastic! Did you know that every single piece of plastic ever created is still somewhere on our planet today… that adds up to the same weight as a billion elephants!
  • Plant a tree – this can be incredibly rewarding and you can make it into a fun activity! Over 48 football fields worth of trees are chopped down every single minute, and the only way to offset this damage is to replace the lost forests.DSC_7630 - Copy (2)
  • Talk to the children – educate children about the simple things they can do to reduce their impact. Empowering the next generation with the knowledge to make a difference will lead to positive outcomes for the planet!
  • Support the organisations who care – from your local business with eco friendly practices, to the conservation organisations that are globally working hard to protect nature. Do your research and donate to those organisations who will use your money to fund in-field conservation projects with documented (published!) results. If you aren’t in a position to donate, you could try to run annual fundraising events in your community, or simply spread the word about a particular cause! For birthdays and events try to buy gifts that give back, with proceeds going to support a non-profit working in conservation!

Picture2 (2)