No! It’s not the latest dental treatment for monkeys but nice try!

You may have seen them along highways where the jungle meets the road or, on many Costa Rican roads near the beach. You may have wondered what they are. With development and people, brings the battle of nature surviving.

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Monkey bridges are literally bridges for monkeys, consisting of a rope which connects trees, simulating the way trees were once connected by natural vines, in rain forests in Costa Rica.

In our area, the Congo or Howler monkey, whose numbers have declined due to their being hit by cars while crossing roads and being electrocuted by electric wires, use these single-rope bridges as safe transportation.

Kids Saving The Rain Forests” is an organization which encourages students to sponsor the building of these life-saving bridges.

In our area, Simona who is is a local hotel owner collects donations from individuals and businesses to buy the monkey bridges. The local electrical provider (CoopeGuanacaste) puts up the bridges at no cost, you simply have to coordinate with them as to the location of the installation.

With the raising of 18 monkey bridges in Tamarindo, the grand total of bridges put up in the Guanacaste area has now reached 100.

The task was not easy, and it has taken a group that is on its way to becoming legally called Asociación Salvemonos (Save the Monkeys Association) to get it done. This group is headed by Simona and also includes other business owners, University of Costa Rica professors, and a member of MINAE, local vet Gilbert Cavallini, CoopeGuanacaste and the municipality of Santa Cruz.

Paul Oporta, a local attorney, has graciously donated his legal services to the association.

The local bridges were installed from Villareal (Tamarindo area) to Langosta. The most important bridges went up across from Hotel Barcelo and at the Surf Club Sports Bar (in Langosta), behind Best Western where there are few trees and a lot of cable, and by Hotel Pueblo Dorado and the Police Station. Best Western and Hotel Pueblo Dorado are on the main road leading into Tamarindo.

There is a biologist from the University of Costa Rica who helps oversee the monkey bridges and although he found discrepancies, they are working to resolve these issues.

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The Asociacion Salvemonos has recently gained the support of the local municipality of Santa Cruz. They are helping the association to get local business funding as well as getting monkey crossing signs, help with SETENA to see how the construction will affect the biological corridor and how to get the speed limit lowered across the roads in those area (along with COSEVI).

The association is would like to work with SETENA to see if they will consider an animal accident equivalent to an environmental accident when they give permits to developers to build so that they will use underground cables.

CoopeGuanacaste has also agreed in the future to build and be responsible for their own monkey bridges, which is great news. CoopeGuancaste now has an environmental office where residents can report monkey accidents to Pilar Campos at 2680-9292.

A University of Costa Rica student is working alongside the association researching their efforts and putting together a model of how this program can be applied in other parts of Costa Rica.

With a combined effort, the needless fatalities should go down dramatically. The hope is that Monkey bridges will be a norm around Costa Rica in the near future to preserve one of the most important animals and symbols of the country.

Monkeys in Costa Rica – What is a monkey bridge?

Article/Property ID Number 2520

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