I came after dark, since our bus had broken down in San Jose and I needed to get to the bus station, hail a taxi, and then cross Costa Rica’s capital city to reach another bus station in order to get a bus ride to La Selva Biological Station.
“La Selva” basically means “The Jungle” in English, and it is about 1,500 hectares (6 square mile) patchwork of old growth (real rainforest) and secondary growth (trees that grew back after the original forest was cut down). It isn’t an enormous piece of land (less than 1/3 of a jaguar’s home range), but it is a major center for tropical studies. As a result, hunting is forbidden and wildlife does flourish, although I’m not really sure if jaguars have ever been sighted nearby. What I do know is that one of their main prey animals, the collared peccary (Pecari tajacu), were easy to find everywhere!
When I ran into them out on the trails, I usually clapped my hands to let them know I was near. They are pig relatives that aren’t much bigger than a midsize dog, but they have a definite, musky stink to them (like a person who needs a bath) and they make a loud barking sound when they get surprised. I was also concerned that one of them might try charging me.
The morning was also filled with the roars of howler monkeys, which is a sound you’d never imagined come out of such a small creature. They are considered the loudest of all primates… and among the loudest land animals on Earth!
People can’t even come close;
My own videos don’t show the monkeys, because they usually stay high up in the trees.
This video is much better (but not one I made):
There were plenty of other sights to see, although not the spider that I came here looking for. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the spider I am studying is called Bagheera kiplingi, which gets its genus name (Bagheera) from a character in The Jungle Book, written by Rudyard Kipling (which is where the species name comes from). The reason I came to La Selva was to search for a relative of Bagheera kiplingi, which was first described as Bagheera laselva in 2013. As of the moment, no samples have turned up, but that’s probably okay because I found out that my collection permits still haven’t come through. It was supposed to take 2 to 3 weeks, or 7 weeks at the most, but now it’s been 10 weeks. Argh!