Esteban Brenes

Executive director

Esteban is a Costa Rican biologist who graduated from Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR), and is an MSc. candidate in Conservation and Wildlife Management from Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica (UNA). He is founder and director of Nai Conservation, a member of IUCN’s Tapir Specialist Group, a ZSL fellow, and is currently working along with other Central American conservation biologists in the Baird’s Tapir Survival Initiative. Through his work, Esteban aims to integrate the ecological data with human dimensions to solve conservation problems and build capacity for the local community and rangers.

Esteban has experience working with terrestrial vertebrate ecology and conservation, statistical modeling and lobbying for the inclusion of research outputs in conservation policy. In the last years he has conducted research and conservation action focused on Baird’s Tapir, and collaborated with researchers from Central America and Southeast Asia. His work is currently based in the highlands of the Talamanca Mountain Range in Costa Rica and expanding to other regions in the country.

Patricia Blanco

Visual Communications 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.

Nicole Leroy-Beaulieu

Education Coordinator

Nicole is about to graduate from her studies in Preschool Education. She works as a certified yoga teacher for kids and is striving to create a link between yoga and environmental education. She collaborates with the program “Yo soy la Respuesta”, a program that educates for peace, wellbeing and sustainability in public schools located in social risk areas through yoga and mindfulness practices. She structured the environmental curriculum for Nai Conservation, the Salva-Dantas program, positioning kids as the protagonists in wildlife conservation. It’s done through a constructivist approach were there’s a base program that adapts to each community based on their knowledge and needs. It stimulates problem solving and critical thinking abilities through creative solutions proposed by kids themselves, abilities she thinks are vital.

Jose Ramirez

Researcher in Skue Conservation

José is a graduate biologist from the University of Costa Rica. He is currently in the last year of his thesis of Licentiate in Zoology, where he researches some ecological and demographic aspects of the endemic mice of the Talamanca Mountain Range. He has participated as a researcher and as a professor in several projects and courses related to rodents and bats in Central America and has been an active assistant collaborator in the Museum of Zoology at the University of Costa Rica for more than 7 years. José is a member of the Small Mammals Specialist Group (SMSG) of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), of the Costa Rican Bat Conservation Program (PCMCR) and conservation partner in Costa Rica Wildlife Foundation. His main interest is the applied science to the conservation of species of small mammals, as well as to environmental education to understand and make better known the benefits offered by this important group of organisms. As well as trying to understand the population and health status of our endemic species, to propose where and how to direct conservation efforts that protect our native fauna.

Juan Carlos Delgado Carazo

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.

Jimmy Barrantes

Researcher in Invasive Species

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

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.

Karina Aguilar

Volunteer Coordinator

Karina is a Costa Rican architect graduated from the University of Costa Rica (UCR), since graduating has sought interdisciplinary growth by taking different courses and programs related to the territory and its components such as the Specialty Course: Landscape Conservation Natural, given the Organization of Tropical Studies (OTS) among others. She is a collaborator of the Osa – Golfo Dulce Institutional Program (PiOsa) of the University of Costa Rica (UCR), where she worked in collaborative landscapes, reconciling the needs of human beings with those of conservation, she has also been a volunteer for the foundation for 7 years. Niño y la Bola, in charge of the Tutoring program in the area of Los Cuadros in Guadalupe where they worked with children and young people at social risk, founder and creative partner of Flora Osa, an interdisciplinary art and science project that strengthens the local identity, promote the appreciation and conservation of biodiversity in Costa Rica. In Costa Rica wildlife is part of the volunteer program team.

Marianela Mata

Researcher in Ateles program

Marianella Mata is a Costa Rican biologist graduated from Latin University of Costa Rica and a veterinarian assistant (Instituto de Servicios Educativos-ISESA). Currently she is a master’s candidate in Biology with Emphasis in Genetics and Molecular Biology at the University of Costa Rica (UCR). Her main interests are the fields of conservation genomics and conservation medicine, especially applied to the conservation of non-human primates. Her work is currently focused on determining the genetic diversity and population structure of the Spider Monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) in Costa Rica, at the Conservation Genetics Laboratory at the UCR. In recent years she has worked as an educator in natural history and genetic courses and as an investigation assistant in several projects, such as the gut microbiome of Seba’s short-tailed bat (Carollia perspicillata) (University of Ulm Institute of Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation Genomics) and genetic Diversity of Costa Rican Flora (National Museum of Costa Rica-National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) of Costa Rica). 

Cris Aguilar

Researcher in Nai Conservation

Cris Aguilar has been working for many years as a volunteer in Costa Rica’s nature reserves. Having graduated as a forestry and wildlife engineer at the National Technical University (UTN) she went on to working at the UTN as students tutour. Cris has experience as a field assistant and researcher with wild cats conservation projects such as Panthera-Costa Rica Corporation. Here she researched Ecology Roads on routes 10, 415 and 4. Also at Corcovado National Park with Erik Olson, professor of Northland college, monitoring big mammals with camera trapping. Cris has been working with Nai Conservation project in Talamanca Mountains and its communities as field and research coordinator for conservation of centroamerican tapir (Tapirus bairdii). Her work with Nai Conservation is not only focused on wildlife monitoring but also on creating a strong bond with people of communities that surround the protected areas of Costa Rica. Her work in some communities has allowed her to work with biological corridor committees in Costa Rica and get involved in other conservation projects in Central America.