Endangered sloths in Central Park?

The Critically Endangered pygmy three-toed sloth lives in one place on earth and that place is under pressure.
image: Craig Turner/ZSL

Ten years ago, the pygmy three-toed sloth (Bradypus Pygmaeus) lived undisturbed ten miles off the coast of Panama on a tiny island the size of Central Park in New York City. Now that’s changed and the pint-sized slowpokes are teetering on the edge of extinction.

The tiny island of Escudo de Veraguas ten miles off Panama is about 3.4 square miles, a Central Park in the Caribbean.  image: Craig Turner/ZSL/LightHawk
The tiny island of Escudo de Veraguas ten miles off Panama is about 3.4 square miles, a Central Park in the Caribbean.
image: Craig Turner/ZSL/LightHawk

In mid-March, a volunteer pilot from LightHawk, flew a donated flight with the Zoological Society of London to map the sloth’s remaining habitat on the island which is mostly inaccessible on foot.

More than a pretty picture, the coastline of Escudo de Veraguas supports red mangrove colonies, the primary food source for the pygmy three-toed sloth.  image: Craig Turner/ZSL/LightHawk
More than a pretty picture, the coastline of Escudo de Veraguas supports red mangrove colonies, the primary food source for the pygmy three-toed sloth.
image: Craig Turner/ZSL/LightHawk

Exploring the entire island from the air enabled scientists to quickly identify imminent threats and pressure points. The information the scientists brought back will help create a conservation plan to protect the sloth’s only home.

The Critically Endangered pygmy three-toed sloth only eats red mangrove leaves and can stay in one tree for up to 36 hours. When mangroves are cut down, the slow-moving sloths must descend to the ground to find another tree and risk predation. image: Craig Turner/ZSL/LightHawk
The Critically Endangered pygmy three-toed sloth only eats red mangrove leaves and can stay in one tree for up to 36 hours. When mangroves are cut down for firewood, the slow-moving sloths must descend to the ground to find another tree and risk predation.
image: Craig Turner/ZSL/LightHawk

Find out more about the pygmy three-toed sloth and how you can help.

Changing Planet

After spending a year and four days in the extreme cold and white of Antarctica, I came back to the world a changed person. My passion is to share stories of people doing extraordinary things and I've done that since 2008 as the chief storyteller for LightHawk. LightHawk is a unique non-profit that grants flights to conservation groups through a network of volunteer pilots. Nearly everyday LightHawk donates educational, scientific and photography flights covering the U.S., Mexico, Central America and parts of Canada. LightHawk volunteer pilots, aircraft and resources help to tip the balance toward sustainability for every major environmental issue within our targeted areas of focus. My favorite part of flying at 1,000 feet in a small aircraft is seeing how that perspective changes how people see their communities and empowers them to take positive action on behalf of conservation. Taking off is pretty cool too.