Conservation & Research at
Pacuare Reserve, established in 1989, is situated on Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast. In 2015, following a fifteen-year partnership with Ecology Project International, Pacuare Reserve's founder, John Denham made Ecology Project International the stewards of the almost 2,000 acres of tropical forest and coastline.
What was once logged for timber or grazed by cattle is now protected for a wide variety of wildlife seeking haven in the region. In addition to the iconic leatherback sea turtle, Pacuare Reserve is home to more than 2,700 species of plants and animals (and counting). Among the more than 200 species of birds, 32 species of bats, and 6 species of feline, there are many rare, threatened, or endangered animals, offering myriad potential for ground-breaking conservation research.
EPI’s research staff are currently focused on four key species and are partnering with more international research institutions each year to study the incredible flora and fauna of the reserve—and how to protect it in perpetuity.
EPI’s Pacuare Reserve has the longest-running leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) conservation program in the Caribbean region of Costa Rica, and its impact continues to grow. Due to the history, success, and investment in this program, Pacuare Reserve is being sought out by the sea turtle community and government agencies for project development, training, and scientific-technical support.
This year, the global conservation status of the leatherback turtle went from Vulnerable to Endangered on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. As the only beach in Costa Rica that has not shown a negative trend in leatherback populations, Pacuare Reserve’s importance to their survival is critical.
Felines, Primates & Agami Herons
Pacuare Reserve is a uniquely forested tract of land amidst the deforestation of the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. The Reserve has become a haven for thousands of animal and plant species, including at least six Central American feline species, three of the four species of primates found in Costa Rica, and more than 200 bird species, including the elusive agami heron.
EPI’s Pacuare Reserve is seasonal home to the largest breeding and nesting colony of agami heron (Agamia agami) in Costa Rica, and the only one on the Caribbean side of the country. Twice a week, EPI researchers and visitors visit the colony to collect data from behind a blind. Their research is beginning to populate the sparse body of data on this stunning species.
Pacuare Reserve supports communities as they move away from traditional practices of turtle egg harvesting and hunting, reducing local residents’ need to move to the Central Valley of Costa Rica for employment opportunities.
The Reserve aims to hire more staff from the local community, focusing on areas closest to the Reserve: Pacuare, Matina, and Bataan. The Reserve is proud to share that more than 70% of staff are from Costa Rica's Caribbean slope, including Pacuare, Matina, Bataan, Limon, and Turrialba.
Want to get involved at Pacuare Reserve?
Spend 4 to 16 weeks working with wildlife in Costa Rica as you deepen your experience in the sciences and build leadership skills for life. The program is open to high school graduates between 18 and 22 years old.
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