Melanocephala Project
The Black-Headed Bushmaster Conservation 
(Lachesis melanocephala).

Our conservation efforts continue in order to ensure scientific research and protect the habitat of this critically endangered species.

The Black-Headed Bushmaster Conservation Project
is a CRWILD and H.E.R.P. in situ Conservation program

in order to generate knowledge with a final end:

conservation of The Black-Headed Bushmaster.

Logo The Black headed bushmaster conserv
Black headed bushmaster Lachesis melanoc

Photo: Jaime Culebras

(Lachesis melanocephala).

(watch video).


What we do ?

The Black Headed Bushmaster Conservation Project is a program held by CRWILD and the Bushmaster Conservation Project.

This effort constitutes an important step towards 

understanding AND protecting thIS RARE AND ENIGMATIC SPECIES
in its natural habitat, the Southern Pacific region of Costa Rica.

Only a group of passionate naturalists could develop such a project, devoted to protect and study their favorite snake genus: Lachesis.

This project is based in the middle of the primary rainforests of the Península de Osa, Costa Rica.

Who we are ?

Cristian Porras Ramirez

Cristian Porras Ramírez


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

Laura Ruysseveldt CRWild.jpg

Laura Ruysseveldt


Laura is a Belgian herpetologist, specialized in snake ecomorphology, ethology and public education.
She is the founder of the Herpetological Education & Research Project (H.E.R.P.) in Belgium

Greivin Corrales Chavez CRWild.jpg

Greivin Corrales Chavez


Greivin is considered one of the major Bushmaster experts in Costa Rica. He works as a herpetologist/toxinologist in the Instituto Clodomiro Picado and has been keeping and breeding Lachesis sp. for years.

Randall veterinario Melanocephala projec

Randall Arguedas Porras


ICP, UCR. His extensive experience as Veterinarian of wild animals, including venomous snakes is of great value to the project. He will check the health of the animals, perform the surgeries and follow their health along the project.

Jovel Cerdas Plato Negro Conservacion .j

Jovel Cerdas


Rancho Quemado local activist/guardian and technic support for the Project

Cesar Director Cientifico Conservacion d

César L. Barrio-Amorós



Scientific director and photographer

Spanish herpetologist who dedicated his life to the understanding and conservation of nature.

Bryan Minnen CRWild.jpg

Bryan Minne


Bryan is a herpetologist specialized in lizard ecomorphology, snake ecology and captive management of herpetofauna.

Aarón Gómez Argüello CRWild.jpg

Aarón Gómez Argüello


Aarón is the curator of the Serpentarium within the Instituto Clodomiro Picado. He is responsible for a major part of the research conducted towards the production of antivenom within the institute.


Victor Merella Merella


Rancho Quemado local activist/guardian and technic support for the Project

Roger Marín Plato Negro Conservacion .jp

Roger Marin Figueroa


Rancho Quemado local activist/guardian and technic support for the Project

Melanocephala project.jpg

Study area

The area chosen for the study is located around the small community of 
Rancho Quemado, Península de Osa, Costa Rica.

This area is situated at one of the last virgin primary rainforests in Central America, covered in natural beauty, attracting adventurous naturalists and wildlife tourists of all over the world.

Thus, our project aims to cover the area around Rancho Quemado, without leaving behind the option of being able to work in the rest of the Osa Peninsula, seeking to understand the distribution habits, range of home and territory of the Plato Negro.

Goals and Research



the Black Headed bushmasters

and study their spatial ecology


The reproductive behavior of wild bushmasters is relatively unknown. We're trying to observe mating and nesting behavior and report on other specific interactions. 


Large snakes are keystone species to their environment. Since bushmasters are still subjected to poaching and habitat loss, protecting them and their environment is of the utmost importance.


Due to the rarity of sightings in the wild, bushmaster behavior is scarcely understood. Following wild specimens and studying their behavior can help us shed some light on the ethology of these snakes.

Staying over!

The Black-headed Bushmaster Conservation Project is surrounded by primary rainforest and home to hundreds of species of wild fauna and flora. Sloths, kinkajous, monkeys, opossums, anteaters, peccaries, pumas, jaguars, toucans, macaws, butterflies, birds of prey, spiders, scorpions, beetles, snakes, lizards and frogs all call this place home. The Osa Peninsula is one of the most biodiverse regions of the country and the world, an area that every naturalist will enjoy! Anyone can visit the village and even stay the night. Traditional meals can be prepared for you on the spot by local families or staying at lodges or cabins in the woods. Wild hiking trails are plenty and local and professional naturalist guides are at your disposal to show you the forests.

Price per night/person:

Foreign and Domestic visitor: $50

(including 3 meals + drinks).


The Osa Peninsula is home of some of the most noticeable

amphibians and reptiles of Costa Rica, aside the star of our project.

The area is home to many venomous snake species, such as different colorations of eyelash vipers (Bothriechis schlegelii), terciopelo (Bothrops asper), white-tail hognose pitvipers (Porthidium porrasi) and coral snakes (Micrurus alleni, clarki  and nigrocinctus). Several species of glass frogs, poison and dart frogs, anoles, the helmeted iguanas (Corytophanes cristatus), brown  basilisks (Basiliscus basiliscus) and tree frogs, such as the red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas) are a common sight. With some luck even the rare Panamanian dwarf boas (Ungaliophis panamensis) can be found or the common Mangrove boas (Corallus ruschenbergerii) could be close to your place at night.
Of course, since this area is the best place to do so, you can always try your hand at finding your own Black-Headed Bushmaster (Lachesis melanocephala) or join our students and scientists in tracking a tagged individual.
Anyone can go on a day and even night herping tour with the guides of the project.

Price for a herp tour/person:

Foreign visitor: $40*
Domestic visitor: $30*

Students & Volunteers

Are you a student at any natural sciences discipline and are you interested in studying the Black-headed bushmaster? In our project it is possible! You can follow internships or conduct your own studies saying with local families. We can even appoint you a mentor that can help you and guide you through your work. As our project is connected to the Instituto Clodomiro Picado, even toxinological studies are a possibility.
If you wish to volunteer in the project, follow an internship and/or conduct your own study, send us a motivational letter or an abstract of what you wish to achieve and we'll help you get over here!

Price per night/person:

Student/Volunteer: $55

(including 3 meals + drinks + activities)


Many people dream to observe a wild bushmaster in its habitat

(and very especially the black-headed, which is the rarest of all).

Witnessing this species in the wild can be a full-adrenaline experience. 

Since our project is studying wild bushmasters and regularly we are tracking them, the real opportunity is out there! 

It is possible to join a tracking activity with our researchers,

in order to try locate one of our registered bushmasters. 

Your visit directly contributes to funding the project and its work. 

We thank you for considering going out tracking with us!

But... it is important to keep some things in mind.

Guidelines and Regulations

Tracking bushmasters is not an attraction.

It is part of our scientific program.

It is a privilege and it comes with a certain set of rules and regulations.

These rules have been established to keep the animals as stress free as possible, as well as to keep our data collection unaffected.

It is of the utmost importance that the animals in the program do not suffer any negative effects from being visited!


Before any tracking activity, the guests will get an elaborate explanation on what is to come.

If you are planning a visit to our project with the intentions to track wild bushmasters, please read through the rules and regulations below.

- Tracking bushmasters is NOT guarantee for success!
The tracked individual can be hiding underground or in a hiding space, making it impossible to see. It may also be out of reach of the responder, making locating the target difficult or even impossible. Tracking in an area with very dense vegetation and a lot of differences in elevation might also hinder the tracking process. 

- Tracking bushmasters is NOT tourist attraction!
It is a scientific study and our data is priceless to us. This means that tracking can only be done on data collection days, which will be executed only once or twice a week. It is also highly dependent on the weather and availability of our researchers.


- Tracking bushmasters is a HANDS-OFF experience!
All of our registered bushmasters are studied on their natural behavior. Handling or approaching them too closely can cause stress, often resulting in a change in behavior. This all can lead to the contamination of our data. If you're going out tracking, follow the guidelines of the researcher completely to avoid any unnecessary stress.


- Tracking bushmasters is NOT a photography tour!
If you want to take lots of time snapping beautiful shots of a wild bushmaster, tracking one might not be the best idea for you. We don't allow the use of flash equipment and the distance to the animal will be dependent on the behavior of the animal and will be determined on the spot by the researcher in charge. Of course, in-situ shots can be taken.


- Tracking bushmasters is NO walk in the park!
Bushmasters can be virtually anywhere! Getting to these locations might require some serious bushwhacking. Prepare to cross rivers, crawl over/under fallen trees, stand knee-deep in mud, crawl up steep hills and hike through the middle of the jungle for several hours.


- Tracking is NOT free!

Of course, tracking these beasts comes with a lot of costs and work. Not only for the equipment, but also for our staff and guides. It is for this reason that we imply a cost of $120 per person to join on a tracking activity. If we fail to find a bushmaster on a tracking day, we'll give you a $60 refund per person that joined the tracking. This fee directly contributes to funding the project and its work.


Article in english

The Bushmasters (Lachesis spp.):

Queens of the Rainforest.

An Overview of the Taxonomy, Distribution, Natural History, Lore, and Conservation of the Largest Vipers in the World.

Artículo en español 

Lachesis, la reina de la selva tropical.

Una descripción general de la taxonomía, distribución, historia natural, tradición y conservación de la víboras más grandes del mundo.

Visit the project

Fill out the form to visit the project.


This rare and enigmatic species is facing extinction along its habitat,

the virgin rainforest at the Osa Peninsula.

Our project needs constant funds for equipment, travel expenses,

veterinary care and research costs.

Organizing workshops with local people and kids will change their minds to respect and preserve this magnificent serpent.


Please consider a donation, even a small contribution can make the difference.