Frontier: Conservation, Education and Exploration


Frontier: Conservation, Education and Exploration

Melanie Kouters


Frontier was established in 1989 as a non-profit conservation organisation. The company is dedicated to safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystem integrity and building sustainable livelihoods for marginalised communities in countries all over the world. Since July 2009 Frontier has also been running projects in Costa Rica. Frontiers’ big cats, primates and turtle conservation project is located in Carate.

Unfortunately, the region of the Osa Peninsula and its wildlife are being challenged not only by habitat fragmentation and poaching, but more broadly by pollution, destruction and climate change. Over the past several years, Frontier has been working on the peninsula to carry out ground-breaking survey work and vital data collection in an effort to combat the effects of these challenges and to preserve this environmentally significant area. Currently we are collecting data for six different types of animal families: amphibians and reptiles, sea turtles, primates, mammals and birds. Most types of species we research are endemic to southwest Costa Rica.

For the research on turtles two beaches are patrolled: Leona beach and Carate beach. On the patrols we not only gather valuable population data of the endangered marine turtles, but also serve to discourage poachers and predators trying to raid nests and collect eggs. Our bird project involves our team’s learning more about 45 species of birds chosen due to their state of endangerment and their sensitivity to habitat disturbance. We are able to identify the birds by looks and bird calls. With this knowledge we can evaluate the exotic bird populations and find out which species are most under threat. On the primate surveys we estimate the density of all four primate species found in the area. To collect data we walk primate transects and record the habitat preferences of the squirrel monkeys, the howler monkeys, the spider monkeys and the white-faced capuchins. Amphibians and reptiles are one of the most sensitive to climate change due to their use of small microhabitats and the porous nature of their skin. On the different surveys we undertake during early mornings and at night we collect baseline data on the different species that live within primary and secondary forests. Our overall goal is to create a bigger picture of the species populations that we need to protect in Carate.

Our camp, also called ‘Camp Osita’ meaning ‘Little Osa’, is located right on the outskirts of a heavily protected and highly biodiverse nature reserve, for this reason we would like to maintain a lifestyle that reflects this to the extent possible. This means making as little of an impact on the environment as we can. To do this we are trying to create a self-sustainable camp by building structures based around natural materials, recycling any of our used products, maintaining a vegetarian diet and trying to consider the ethical implications of all our decisions.

Besides the research we do on the animals and building a sustainable livelihood we also like to get involved with the local community. For any construction work at the campsite we always use contractors from the Carate area. We are also providing a little bit of income to some local venders as the volunteers love Costa Rican snacks and drinks. With our turtle patrols we provide manpower for another turtle conservation organisation that collaborates with COTORCO. In order to learn as much as possible about the Costa Rican culture our staff and volunteers like to socialize with the locals and join them at different events and parties. We are currently providing casual English classes at the local school in Carate. In February we will also re-open our teaching project in Puerto Jimenez. Because of this Frontier will also be more involved in the community of Puerto Jimenez. Frontier is always more than happy to lend a helping hand in the communities, so if there is anything Frontier can do for you feel free to contact us at any time.

For those of you wishing to get involved with one of our projects or interested in collaborating with us, send an e-mail to or find us on Facebook @frontiercostarica.

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