In CRWF we work to ensure the prevalence of wildlife and its habitat through interdisciplinary and community-based stable conservation initiatives that promote coexistence and improve decision-making. We envision our organization to be a worldwide model in wildlife conservation, in both: natural ecosystems and anthropogenic landscapes. Our fields of action include research, education, communication, and marketing, all aimed to produce conservation action to reduce the threats that wildlife is facing.


Michelle Monge, MSc.


Michelle is a Tropical Biologist and MSc. In Conservation and Wildlife Management. She has experience in conservation projects with public and private institutions involving felids, amphibian and reptile conservation, road-ecology, and ecological restoration. She is currently coordinating an inter-institutional citizen science initiative called iNaturalist CR, which seeks to involve citizens in the registration of biodiversity data. Michelle is passionate about hiking and wildlife watching. She is part of the CRWF Board of Directors to technically and administratively support the projects that the foundation undertakes.

Sonya Kahlenberg, Ph.D.


Sonya is a primatologist by training and has spent the past 19 years working in great ape conservation in Africa and Southeast Asia. Most recently, she was the Executive Director of the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE), an award-winning organization working to protect critically endangered Grauer’s gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In addition to conservation expertise, Sonya brings to CRWF experience with running small nonprofit organizations and working with communities on conservation education and behavior change. She has lived in Costa Rica for the past two years with her husband and two daughters and is a passionate about saving this country’s iconic wildlife in partnership with local communities.

Luis Alvarado, MSc.


Agricultural Engineer Phytotechnician, consultant in management and evaluation of projects and in management and monitoring of credit oriented to the SME sector.

Enrique Castegnaro, MBA.

Board Member

Enrique has been involved in agriculture, livestock, reforestation and conservation for the last 10 years.

My academic background is civil engineering and business administration.

“I believe that conservation efforts achieve their greatest potential when they are shared.

I see in the Costa Rica Wildlife Foundation an interdisciplinary and highly motivated team to achieve the full potential of its conservation efforts and I am very excited to be part of this team and its initiatives.”

Jim Sanderson, Ph.D.

Board Member

Jim Sanderson received a Ph.D from the University of New Mexico in 1976. Jim is the Program Manager for Wild Cat Conservation at Global Wildlife Conservation. He is the founder and director of the Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation, a member of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group, a review board member of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, and a Fellow of Wildlife Conservation Network.

Jim’s mission is to ensure the survival of small wild cats and their natural habitats worldwide. This mission is achieved by working with local partners around the world to identify and mitigate threats to the world’s small wild cats. In 1996 Jim used radio-telemetry to better understand habitat fragmentation and landscape connectivity, and conservation issues of Guignas (Leopardus guigna) in Chile. With Bolivian and Chilean colleagues, Jim captured and radio-collared the first Andean cat in May, 2004. He has also used camera phototraps to survey wildlife populations and monitor biodiversity in South America, Africa, Asia, and SE Asia. Jim’s photograph of the Andean cat appeared in the February 2000 issue of National Geographic. With Chinese colleagues, Jim got the first pictures of the Chinese mountain cat in the wild. He has written four books and published more than 120 peer-reviewed journal articles.


Esteban Brenes-Mora, MSc.

Founding member, Executive director & Conservation Coordinator

Esteban is a Conservation Scientist from Costa Rica who specializes in wildlife conservation and population ecology, he is the Executive Director of Costa Rica Wildlife Foundation. In CRWF, Esteban is in charge of managing conservation and scientific processes, identifying and prioritizing future actions, planning, fundraising to keep on going the conservation impact, and lobbing for the inclusion of scientific evidence into decision making to implement solutions. Esteban’s work has been focused in endangered species conservation, he manages Nai Conservation, the Baird’s tapir program inside CRWF and the Baird’s Tapir Survival Alliance for Costa Rica. Through his work Esteban has been encouraging local communities to develop productive activities that allow them coexist with wildlife and supporting authorities on providing technical information to tackle down threats faced by wildlife. Esteban is alumni of the Zoological Society of London, member of the IUCN’s Tapir Specialist Group, conservation associate for Global Wildlife Conservation, member of the Board of Directors of Osa Conservation, and the youngest deputy of the Costa Rica’s Government National Wildlife Commission. He has experience working on wildlife conservation in Central America, South-East Asia and Europe. Esteban has lectured in distinguished institutions around America, Asia, United Kingdom, and Europe; and his work has been highlighted in several wildlife conservation documentaries. 

Patricia Blanco M.A.

Founding member and Communication and media Coordinator

Studied Painting and Graphic Design in the University of Costa Rica and masters in Scientific Visualization in the Zurich University of arts and Design ZHdK. She actively collaborates in the different projects of the Costa Rica Wildlife Foundation, developing information campaigns and visual materials to communicate conservation research. Amongst others, she developed the project Gardeners of the Highlands, using scientific visualization to raise awareness of the importance of the role of herbivores in the Talamanca Mountain Range.

Jorge Delgado Alpizar, Lic.

Founding member

He is Co-Founder of Costa Rica Wildlife Foundation, Bachelor of Arts from the University of Costa Rica, has worked for over 15 years as a visual artist, where he has participated in different construction processes and project management, conservation programs, also works as a researcher at the Institute of Arts (IIARTE) of the UCR, where he developed a joint project called Aula Negra focused on research, production of visual arts and technologies associated with the media and screens, currently pursuing a graduate degree in Arts. ( Academic Master’s Degree ).


Jose Ramirez-Fernández, Lic. Zool.

Researcher in Oncilla and Skue Conservation

José is a biologist with a degree in zoology from the University of Costa Rica. In his thesis he investigated some ecological and demographic aspects of endemic mice of the Talamanca Mountain Range in Costa Rica. His main interest is science applied to the conservation of small mammal species, as well as environmental education to better understand and publicize the benefits offered by this important group of organisms. Although his interest group has always been wild mice, Jose accepted the challenge of researching the oncilla, a cat synonymous with predation on mice, upon learning of the particular conservation situation facing this unique species in the world. “Previously I have investigated the communities of mice in the highlands of the country in relation to the availability of food present in their habitat, understanding one of their main predators and the relationship they have in their habitat with their favorite prey will give me a broader view of the trophic dynamics that develops in these points of high endemism”. Jose currently coordinates Oncilla Conservation, the small cat conservation program of the Costa Rica Wildlife Foundation, where he researches and seeks to implement solutions to conserve the smallest and most endangered of Mesoamerican cats.

Juan Carlos Delgado Carazo BSc.

Researcher in molecular biology & genetics

Juan Carlos is a graduate biologist and a master’s student in genetics and molecular biology at the University of Costa Rica. In his thesis, he is establishing protocols for collecting and processing noninvasive samples (i.e. feces, hairs) to study the genetics of the tapirs in the northwestern Talamanca Mountain Range. As a researcher in CRWF, Juan Carlos seeks to answer questions about the genetic diversity & structure, demography and health of endangered wildlife species such as tapirs and oncillas. Juan Carlos is passionate about molecular biology because of its versatility as a tool for the study, management and conservation of wildlife. He aims to generate scientific evidence regarding the status of wildlife and their threats in order to generate case-specific recommendations for the successful management and conservation of wildlife in Costa Rica.

Mario Espinoza, (MSc.), PhD

Researcher in Pez Sierra

Mario Espinoza is a marine biologist from Costa Rica, with a strong background in behavioral ecology, fisheries management, and conservation. Mario has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Universidad de Costa Rica, a Masters in Marine Biology from California State University in Long Beach (USA) and a Phd in Marine Sciences and Conservation from James Cook University in Australia. Mario started a full-time position as a professor and researcher at Universidad de Costa Rica in 2015. Since then, he has led two main projects: (1) a conservation program focused on the critically endangered Largetooth Sawfish, and (2) a national monitoring program of shark and ray populations in the entire Pacific of Costa Rica. Based on the research conducted by Mario and his team, the Largetooth Sawfish is likely restricted to some rivers and wetlands in remote locations of the southern Pacific and northern Caribbean regions. These areas are subject to numerous anthropogenic pressures, including illegal fishing, rapid coastal/riverine development leading to mangrove clearing and habitat degradation, pollution, and sedimentation. The project also had a strong educational and awareness component, which was crucial at changing people’s perceptions and fostered increased involvement of rural communities in the conservation of this large iconic species. Collectively, these efforts led to the legal protection of sawfish within Costa Rican waters in November 2017. However, despite these efforts, we continue to receive numerous landing reports in some areas, as well as evidence of illegal trade of sawfish parts (rostrums and teeth) between Costa Rica and Latin American countries. In the second main project, Mario and his team are using multiple techniques (acoustic telemetry, baited remote underwater video stations and stable isotopes) to explore the Secret Life of Sharks in Costa Rica. This project is providing fast and reliable data of the population trends of many threatened species of sharks and rays in Costa Rica. Mario is also a Regional Vice-Chair from the IUCN Shark Specialist Group (SSG), and an Advisor Committee member from the CMS-Sharks (Convention of Migratory Species).

Jimmy Barrantes, MSc

Smart Patrolling advisor

Jimmy Barrantes Madrigal is a tropical biologist graduated from the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica with a Master’s degree in Conservation and Wildlife Management from the same institution. He has worked as an independent consultant for management plans in protected areas and project management in biological corridors. In recent years he has developed research in the field of herpetofauna and invasive species. His area of interest is applied science focused on counteracting threats to wildlife with an emphasis on biological invasions. Currently, he collaborates with the National Commission on Invasive Alien Species of the National System of Conservation Area in Costa Rica (SINAC), he is the general coordinator of the thematic interest group on invasive species of the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation. In addition, together with professionals from Latin America, he is one of the promoters to consolidate the Mesoamerican network on invasive alien species at the regional level.

Jorge Rojas-Jimenez DMV

Researcher in Nai Conservation

Jorge is a Costa Rican veterinary graduated from the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica (UNA). He is coordinator together of the Genetics and Health section of Nai Conservation, also he is member of Awá Science & Conservation and of the IUCN’s Tapir Specialist Group (TSG). He performed his bachellor’s degree thesis project related to Antibiotic Resistance of fecal bacteria from free-ranging tapirs, where he obtained the honor mention Magna Cum Laude. Currently he is a PhD candidate student at the University of Georgia. In addition, through his contribution in tapir’s health, he aims to build capacities for local communities and park rangers in regions with suitable habitats or where Baird’s tapir habits, in order to contribute to the conservation of the Central American tapir through participative management strategies.

Valeria Aspinall BSc.

Coordinator in Tlaloc Conservation

Valeria is a Biologist with a specialty in Conservation whose goal is to protect the most threatened species through research, leadership and social involvement. She studied Wildlife Biology and Conservation at Colorado State University, she has been involved in research projects including the description of the new frog species Tlalocohyla celeste. She currently coordinates the Tlaloc Conservation program which carries out conservation actions on the problem of amphibian decline. Valeria has stood out for her concern and motivation to protect and disseminate the importance of amphibians through multiple activities, talks, workshops and alliances at the national level.

Juan G. Abarca M.Sc.

Researcher in Tlaloc Conservation

Juan is a tropical biologist specializing in herpetology. He is a professor of naturalism for guides and has worked on amphibian and reptile research and conservation projects, mainly on threatened species. He currently works at SENASA, is a research associate at the National University and actively supports various research programs including the Tlaloc Conservation program focused on the conservation of threatened amphibians.

Sofía Pastor-Parajeles Lic.

Coexistance planning and operations coordinator

Conservation Biologist focused on planning for coexistence and human-wildlife dimensions with the purpose of implementing conservation to maintain or improve people’ and wildlife’ quality of life. Believes that conservation should be directed both for nature and the people to promote coexistence. High experience in leading conservation programs, field work, research, citizen science and relations with rural communities.

Donald Varela

Coodinator in Jícaro Danto restoration project

Daniela Arias González Lic.

Coodinator in Kabek, pro-Quetzal families

Fabián Peñaranda Olmos



Hoy no puede haber salud humana sin haber salud animal, ambas son inviables si el ambiente no es saludable.



Jose Ramírez-Fernández

July 4th, 2022|0 Comments

Soy José Ramírez-Fernández, soy biólogo de campo y coordinador del proyecto Oncilla Conservation.  Desde niño siempre se me