Wild Cats Friendly Roads

Scientists, government, companies and communities together,building wildlife friendly roads

Photo of Daniela Araya
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Eligibility Criteria

  • I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
  • I am 18 years old or older.

Initiative's representative name

María Daniela Araya Gamboa

Initiative's representative date of birth

14 July 1978

Initiative's representative gender

  • Woman

Headquarters location: country

  • Costa Rica

Headquarters location: city


Where are you making a difference?

Country: Costa Rica, main impact. Monitoring on Routes: 415, 10, 257, 4, 35, 253, 140, 708 and Trocha The impact is also in the Latin America Region

Website or social media url(s)

Panthera Web Page http://pantheracostarica.org/ Wild cats Friendly Roads Project https://pantheracostarica.org/nuestros-proyectos/caminos-amigables-con-los-felinos/ Facebook: Panthera Costa Rica

Date Started


Project Stage

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan going forward)

Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?

  • €10k - €50k

Organization Type

  • Nonprofit/NGO

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

When I was 10 years old, my dad a, banana plantation spary pilot, came home crying. He hit a puma crossing a road reacently contructed thru a National Park. The female puma was beautiful in his story and still alive. He moved her to the forest and on his way back he went to check her, she was not there, for a happy ending we all pretend she felt better and returned to a safe place in the forest. This story is still in my heart and I supposed is why I´m comitted to reduce the impact of roads on wildlife. In 2010, we started working to protect jaguar´s connectivity at the narrowest area, Costa Rica. The only viable connectivity was thru the Mountain range, and we never expect roads ¨the silent predators¨ended up being our main concern.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

In Latin America a biodiverse region, road expansion of national roads and improvement of rural roads projects are growing. Most of the countries are not taking into acount the impact of roads and traffic on wildlife. Assesing the impact thru field research and using the data to recomend measures to reduce the impact is crucial. There is no mandatory status for the implementation of measures for wildlife and the impact most of the time is not visible, because the lack of data collection.

3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

The solution is to avoid wildlife presence on roads and implement for it alternative safe routes to cross. This two components will make safe roads for drivers and maintain wildlife conectivity and reduce roadkills. The aproach is at all levels: We identified the impact of roads and traffic on wildlife, find and test measures (for example arboreal crossings) and support the creation and implementation of legislation for the long term and national aproach of the measures. We set an ideal environment for stakeholders to work together to creat solid bases, where all interestes are blend together.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

The aproach is at all levels: We identified the impact of roads and traffic on wildlife, find and test measures (for example arboreal crossings) and support the creation and implementation of legislation for the long term and national aproach of the measures. We use techonlogy: Camera traps on forest floor, on the canopy, Integrated Data System, dron videos, Citizen science and ArGis . We do a huge sampling effort: Monitoring road for wildlife sigthings and roadkills day and night, dry and rainy season, interviews of local people and forest connectivity maps.

5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?

Can you imagine a hotel, a wildcat conservation ngo, a comunity, and a trasnportation agency all working together to study the impact of a road, to gather data to recommend measures to reduce the impact on wildlife? That is the case of our project on Route 35. On Route 257, it was the oil refinery, a port terminal, an adventure and nature center, police officers, the univerity and us working together to reduce the mortality of canopy frogs and fragmentation for jaguars and spider monkey populations. Bringing key players together is part of our daily work and the main componet of our achivements.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

We have identified the impact on wildlife of 8 roads and recommend measures to reduce it We have data of the use of arboreal crossings by 8 different species We have develop a Guide for the country for the implementation of measures on roads for wildlife, and is being implemented on new roads since 2016. We reacently introduce in the protocols of the agencies that administrate old roads the construction and mainteniance of measures for wildlife. We have a donation of services agreement with the Ministry of Transportation to do the monitoring of arboral crossings and underpasses, for feedback for the Ministry to undersatand if measures are working for wildlife and how to improve them. We recieved requests from communities, two yeas ago a new road was built in a forest area and a Puma was roadkilled, we are collecting data there thanks to the support of the community. We already have a list of gaps to achived Wildlife friendly roads, and our goal is to fulfill it!

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

We plan to use Costa Rica as a study case, to help other countries in the Mesoamerican region to avoid starting from cero and just fit to the reality of each country the actions. We have done many workshops locally and for the region in colaboration with UCR-Lanamme for the Mesoamerican Region, with the support of Sandra Jacobson and Gordon Keller. We present our work at IENE and ICOET, to diseminate our results and needs for the region. We are already participating in a Latin America and Caribbean-Transport Working Gropu with the participation of: Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia, with the support of Anthony Clevenger and Clara Grilo Road Ecology experts.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?

We are comitted entirely to the creation of value for the society. Wildlife decline is a priority to ensure humane survival. Roads and traffic are fragmenting populations and killing individuals of wildlife all around the wold, from butterflys to tigers. We are identifying the impact of roads on wildlife, finding and testing measures to reduce it and supporting legislation to ensure the long term and national aproach for the measures. In the tropical regions there is a lack of infomation on road ecology, and we are trying to reduce this gap.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

Panthera has the goal to secured the salary of the director and the project coordinators, and has done that for 10 years. Project coordinators like me, are in charge of aplaying to grants and other funding opotunities to cover field staff, data processing and field supplies. So I will continue aplaying for funding oportunities to secure field budget.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

Director Costa Rica and Mesoamerica: Full time /Roberto Salom Pérez Project Coordinator-Road Ecologyst: Full time /María Daniela Araya Gamboa Field technician (camera trap expert): Part time/ Deiver Espinoza Muñoz Data processing (Integrated Data System expert) : Part time Yosette Araya Jiménez Field technician (tree climber expert): a quarter of time Erick Víquez Alvarado I would like to have the hole team as full time. Work in close colaboration with VAVS and goverment representatives.

11. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Search engine

1 comment

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Photo of Carlos Andres Valderrama Vasquez

Congrats Daniela, good initiative to prevent accidents on roads