Sloths ENdangered or IN Danger?
By Sam Trull
A question I get asked often is “Are sloths endangered?”. While the sloths of Costa Rica may not be categorized as ENdangered, they are still very much IN danger. Every day critical habitat is destroyed and sloths are injured by human encroachment. They can’t run across roads, jump through gaps in the forest or fend off dogs. In addition, underlying diseases and abilities to adjust to an ever changing world go un-detected without targeted research initiatives. There are active steps we can take towards creating a safer, healthier and happier future for wild sloths in Costa Rica. But first we need to learn, what makes a healthy sloth? What factors affect the health of individual sloths and sloth populations? In order to truly tackle these questions, we recently completed the build of Monster’s WiSH (Wild Sloth Health) lab.
As a part of our research, we take various samples from the wild sloths that we are tracking so that we can monitor different health parameters to get an overall picture of the quality of life of certain sloth individuals and ultimately populations of sloths. Everything from weight, body measurements, feces, blood, hair, photos and more can be collected non-invasively to help us paint a clearer picture about baseline sloth health and what factors affect that baseline. With this lab space, we will be able to collect comprehensive knowledge about common sloth diseases in wild populations. We aim to not only investigate the baseline health of ‘normal’ sloth populations, but also correlate this information with habitat quality so that we can make recommendations on how to better develop human encroached areas to improve the health and quality of life for wild sloth populations in Costa Rica before it is too late. This lab is an instrumental part of our ever growing WiSH program providing our team a perfect environment to work, collect, store and analyze samples. In addition, this lab is a space where we can invite visiting researchers to collaborate on important conservation research that will save sloth lives.
We are so grateful to our incredible community of supporters that made Monster’s WiSH lab a dream come true to help us avoid sloths becoming endangered. We look forward to sharing our educational journey as we work every day to save the sloths that we all love.