Electrocuted animals attended at the Jaguar Rescue Center

In the South Caribbean of Costa Rica, hundreds of electrocutions to wildlife animals occur every year, although only a few are still alive at the Rescue Center. We receive an average of 25-30 electrocuted animals per year, of which we manage to save and recover 30% (see graph below). 70% of the electrocuted animals are sloths and monkeys, and the rest are kinkajous, opossums, birds, and reptiles, among others.

Each electrocuted animal represents an enormous challenge. Electrocution causes a myriad of very serious problems that usually result in death. Sometimes the animal’s body temperature increases to more than 43 degrees Celsius (109.4 Fahrenheit), causing multi-organ failure. Frequently we find large areas of tissue necrosis. Saving the animal usually involves severe amputations of limbs and large areas of affected skin.

Sometimes animals can be recovered with a lot of time and effort, but it minimal compared to the number of creatures killed

Shock Free Zone

The Shock Free Zone program that we launched from the JRC, in cooperation with the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) and the supervision of the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE), consists of insulating transformers and electrical lines that are currently without insulation. We have inventoried the problem area where more accidents occur, thanks to the ICE and JRC records.

Our goal for 2018 is to insulate 10 of those transformers, but to do so we need your help and collaboration!

Buying the materials to insulate a transformer costs $250 per transformer. ICE has graciously volunteered to provide professional staff, equipment and specialized vehicles for installation.

Make a donation

JRC does not receive government aid; all our funding comes from the aid received from our visitors and friends like you.

Your help will go directly to insulate an identified point where wild animals are being electrocuted

Wildlife Electrocutions in Costa Rica

Each year there are more than 3,000 electrocutions of wildlife animals in Costa Rica. Dozens of mammals such as monkeys, sloths, anteaters, foxes, squirrels, as well as birds and reptiles are electrocuted daily on power lines throughout the country.

Almost all the lines used in Costa Rica for the supply of electric service are aerial and are constructed with conductive materials without insulation (bare aluminum conductors). They are a permanent cause of electrocution risk for any living being that has contact to the power lines.

The low voltage or secondary lines have a voltage level of 120 and 240 volts. Medium voltage or primary distribution lines have voltages greater than 14,000 volts. Both types of line have the potential to cause the electrocution of any living being.

The transformers that are installed on the poles have the same voltage levels as the electric lines, therefore they are also the cause of many cases of electrocution of fauna

Actions carried out by the JRC to date

For a decade the Jaguar Rescue Center has been carrying out different environmental efforts and actions regarding the prevention and attention of impacts caused by the electrocution of fauna.

We have sent written requests and held multiple meetings with ICE to find integral and permanent solutions to this problem. Our resident animals have served as a study to design appropriate steps for the arboreal fauna in collaboration with the ICE. Several bridges have been installed throughout the area for the safe crossing of animals.

We also support efforts filed with the National Environmental Technical Secretariat (SETENA) and the Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP) to ensure that environmental legislation of the development and operation of power lines in the country is modified. Going forward it is mandatory that the new power lines are insulated.
Meanwhile, we have the obligation to continue the fight undertaken before these governmental institutions as well as to execute environmental actions that allow to prevent and avoid to some degree the environmental impacts due to the electrocution of fauna.

In 2018, the ICE took on the problem of animal electrocutions in the South Atlantic region with greater interest.

In April, the ICE carried out the replacement of bare secondary lines by secondary lines with insulation in several sectors at high risk of electrocution. They also installed insulating materials on 20 poles and 8 transformers located in places identified as electrocution risk points between Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and Manzanillo. ICE has offered to continue with an annual and permanent program of execution of impact prevention actions. The number of actions will depend on the resources allocated in its annual budget and also that the JRC provides the necessary insulation materials.

Cost of Isolating lines and electrical transformers

The JRC must provide insulating materials and equipment in those cases in which the ICE does not have enough stock. It should be noted that these insulating materials are very specialized and therefore expensive, as can be seen in the following information:
  • Average cost of materials required to isolate a transformer: $250
  • Average cost of materials required to insulate a pole with three-phase mounting: $500. The average cost to isolate a kilometer of three-phase line is $6,000.
  • Average cost of materials required to insulate a pole with single phase mounting: $180.The average cost to isolate a kilometer of single-phase line is $2,000.

Survival Stories

Mamma Mia is an adult sloth with two fingers (Choloepus hoffmanni). The firefighters brought her from Siquirres on August 29, 2016. She came with a baby clutching her that fortunately was not affected by the electrocution. She suffered serious burns to her nose and all extremities. The right arm was completely necrotic and in poor condition and we had to amputate it at shoulder height. Both feet were damaged with loss of ligaments and lack of mobility.

Currently Mamma Mia lives with us at the Center. She is a non-releasable animal that receives all possible care from our team. Luckily, her baby survived and is well.
Skye is a young congo monkey (Alouatta palliata) who arrived with the police from the center of Limón in October 2017. She had been electrocuted and suffered severe burns to her right hand. A finger had to be amputated. We suspect that her mother died in electrocution.

Since then, Skye is part of our congos group and is growing alongside her colleagues. Every day she goes out into the forest and with an independent and happy personality. She is a born survivor and we are sure that we will be able to reintroduce her successfully into the wild once she reaches her sexual maturity.