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Drinking Chocolate with the Animals of the Forest

by: Willy Aguilar.

Probably all of us have seen or heard, through comics, magazines, cartoons, or children's stories, where animals come to life and are able to talk, share with others, sing or even drink a cup of something with a group of people.

Using a little bit of our imagination, this might happen when you visit the traditional cocoa plantation during our chocolate tour. The plantation, located in one corner of the Reserve, was cultivated several decades ago but has been revived in order to show the transformation of a cacao fruit into chocolate.

The plantation used a traditional farming system, which used a forest patch to grow cacao trees in the middle of the tallest trees, which provide the necessary shade for their survival. Thus the productiveness of the plantation increases, since this type of plant originated in the mature forest (primary forest).

mono copy This type of plantation has a great variety of flora used by a large number of animals which, with a little luck, can be observed within the cacaotal (cacao plantation). Some of the most commonly found animals are toucans (Ramphastos sulfuratus, R. swainsonii, Pteroglossus torquatus), howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata), red frogs (Oophaga pumilio), and leaf-cutter ants (Atta sp). However one of the most frequent animals at this site is the Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata), also popularly known as "Cherenga". Considered the second largest rodent in Costa Rica, it feeds like its close relatives on seeds and fruits such as the cedar, pejibaye, mango and, of course, cacao. It is therefore common to observe the agouti searching for food in the leaves - seeds that fall from the fruits that have been opened by other animals. We have started noticing some new individuals of this photogenic animal that were born in the site about two months ago

While for some people seeing an animal like this is routine, for others in this organization it is an achievement - knowing that we are seeing results from taking care of the habitat of this and many other animals. Because agoutis were extensively hunted in the area for meat, it was extremely unusual to see one of them before the conservation of this reserve. The example of the agouti tells us that cacao plantations cultivated in the traditional ways can contribute to the balance that human beings seek to allow other beings to exist as part of this great community.

So we invite you to take a cup of chocolate, appreciating the goodness of nature. And maybe if we use a little imagination, we can listen to and understand the "agouti" or any other animal, speaking of what nature has to say under the influence of a drink made for the gods.

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