What is the Melanocephala Project?

The Melanocephala Project was given green light in April 2021 and is the second study project of the BCP. The Melanocephala Project is the first official conservation and study program on black-headed bushmasters in Costa Rica.

It is an effort to protect and study the Black-Headed Bushmaster (Lachesis melanocephala) in its natural habitat in the Osa Peninsula, a biodiversity hotspot in the South Pacific region of Costa Rica. The effort uses the expertise and profound knowledge of the local community and their vast lands of primary rainforests.

The Melanocephala project is a collaboration between the BCP, CRWild and the local community of Rancho Quemado, a small settlement located in the middle of dense primary rainforests.

Rancho Quemado


Rancho Quemado is a small settlement situated in the heart of the Golfo Dulce Forest, a primary rainforest connecting the wilds of the Osa Peninsula to the rest of Costa Rica. The region is known to be one of the most biodiverse regions of the country and houses thousands of species of fauna and flora. Rancho Quemado is a small, friendly, rural community with a profound focus on sustainable, rural tourism and ecotourism. It has several conservation projects and community based organizations devoted to better the lives of the residents. The ultimate goal of the community is to create complete economic independence of their families through ecotourism and conservation.

Rancho Quemado is accessible from both Drake and Rincon. The roads leading there can sometimes be treacherous and might sometimes require a vehicle high enough to cross small rivers and creeks. There are plenty of options of accommodation in the community. Small family-owned lodges and restaurants are plentiful, comfortable and cheap.

Around Rancho Quemado you can explore private lands in search of many species of reptiles and amphibians as well as hike several long jungle trails that lead deep into the jungle! These hikes will bring you to small creek habitats, hilly slopes, dense rainforest, large rivers and breathtaking sceneries.

The Local Research Team

Cristian Porras Ramírez

Cristian is the founder of CRWild and local coordinator of the Melanocephala project.

With CRWild, an ecotourism and study organization that promotes environmental education, he aims to bring awareness to struggling species of herpetofauna in Costa Rica and does whatever he can to support conservation efforts.

He uses his skills in visual and graphic design to spread the word on the conservation of fauna and flora.


César L. Barrio-Amorós

César is the scientific director of CRWild and the local scientific coordinator of the Melanocephala project.

As a herpetologist with a deep passion and interest in bushmasters, César devoted hours in the field in search of his beloved genus all over Central and South America. With great success.

He uses his experience in field herpetology to

guide and advise the local tracking team on working with the snakes and collecting data.

Víctor Merella

Víctor is tracking team leader and main data collector of the Melanocephala project. He communicates with the local community and coordinates the project on location.

He has years of experience working on several scientific projects guided by the SINAC and UCR.

Born and raised in Rancho Quemado, Víctor knows the lands and is an expert guide when it comes to the fauna and flora in the primary forests surrounding his community.

He uses his profound knowledge and love for nature to promote ecotourism and conservation.