This morning we took a hike through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and saw some amazing wildlife, including a toucan, a Quetzal, and spider monkeys! These sightings would not have been possible without our tour guide Eduardo, who did an excellent job spotting the animals and setting up his telescope for us to look through. Eduardo was very knowledgeable about Monteverde wildlife and was able to identify every sound we heard. For decades, the local Ticos have been working closely with the wildlife of the cloud forest to learn about its biodiversity. While this human interaction may seem harmful on the surface, the Ticos have actually undergone certain measures to protect the wildlife of Monteverde. For instance, the local Ticos have worked to build a few synthetic nests for Quetzal birds, a species that is at risk of becoming endangered. Quetzals typically build their nests in holes in trees, but this can be dangerous for the birds if their trees fall due to hurricanes or humidity. These synthetic nests are much more sturdy than regular trees and thus have saved the lives of several Quetzals.
In recent years, Costa Rica has had shifted towards ecotourism. While an influx of foreigners likely has a negative impact on the environment, the local Ticos are smart in minimizing this impact. In essence, only 2% of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is open to the public. The other 98% is used only to study the wildlife of the area. Additionally, the growing tourism in Costa Rica has brought lots of money to the area, which in turn can be used for research and protecting endangered species. This economic benefit can also be seen at Life Monteverde because their tours bring in fast, easy money that is used to provide better conditions for their workers and maintain their sustainable practices. Overall, I think that the growth in ecotourism can actually be a good thing because the Ticos’ awareness of potential issues and their dedication to preserving the wildlife and maintaining sustainable practices outweighs any negative impact brought by tourists.