Wednesday, December 19, 2012


The following blog post comes from one of GVI's research partners in Costa Rica, Stephanny Arroyo-Arce.  Stephanny is a Costa Rican biologist conducting jaguar research in Tortuguero National Park, and has camera traps placed throughout the park to study the jaguar population.  We work closely with Stephanny through our valued partnership with Panthera, an international organization working for the protection of wild cats and their ecosystems.  As a portion of Stephanny's camera traps are near to our Jalova research station, Stephanny often visits the station to stay with us, and GVI staff and volunteers assist her in getting to her cameras and collecting the latest data.  Read on to learn more about Stephanny's research and findings: 

Male jaguar named Gerardo photographed by one of the camera traps in Tortuguero National Park 

Tortuguero National Park is part of the Jaguar Conservation Units and should therefore be a priority area for directing the efforts of conservation of the species. However, the expansion of the agricultural frontier and the increased land use (agriculture/livestock) has led to the fragmentation of the Tortuguero Conservation Area, where the Tortuguero National Park is one of the last remaining tropical humid forests in the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. The environmental consequences of such activities (e.g. loss of forest cover) will have negative impacts on the jaguar populations (e.g. low prey availability due to hunting, increase of jaguar-human conflicts associated with the cattle predation on farms located in the buffer area of the park). Therefore, assessing habitat selection by jaguar populations will help to determine jaguar habitat requirements (e.g. forest cover type, prey availability) and the effect of human perturbations (e.g. agricultural areas, human settlements) on habitat use. Such information may be used as a framework to establish priority areas for conservation within the park and its buffer area. For example, areas with high rates of hunting and deforestation are particularly at risk.
Camera traps and recording of indirect signs (e.g. scats, tracks) have been used to evaluate jaguar habitat selection within the study area.
In June, after the cameras were checked for the first time, we were pleased to discover the first photo of a felid - an ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) - in the mountain sector of the park. One month later we were thrilled to encounter our first two jaguars (a male and a female) on the straight of the beach which two weeks later were recorded for the first time in one of our camera traps. 

Female jaguar named Ceci photographed by Stephanny in July 2012
So far we have been able to identify 11 jaguars (six males, four females and one cub). One of the females was photographed at Aguas Frías sector – which represents the first photo of a jaguar ever taken in the mountain sector of the Tortuguero National Park. The other jaguars were reported on the straight of the beach and on one of the main islands of the park. To top it off, in November we were able to report the first photographic evidence of a puma (Puma concolor) ever taken in Tortuguero National Park.
Otherwise d
ata thus far shows evidence of 11 prey species including paca (Agouti paca), white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari), Central America agouti (Dasyprocta punctata), red brocket deer (Mazama americana), nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novencinctus) and green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) among others.
Furthermore, we have built a strategic alliance with Panthera-Costa Rica who has contributed to successful project development and implementation.
We have also built a second alliance with Global Vision International who has lead one of the longest-running jaguar research initiatives in the Tortuguero National Park - conducted over the past six years.
We believe that it will be a great opportunity for knowledge sharing which will help us to have a better understanding of the situation of jaguars in the study area.
Moreover in July w
e initiated the dissemination activities with the support of Panthera-Costa Rica and Global Vision International. So far we have given three presentations to the communities of Barra de Tortuguero and Parismina, and in September we conducted a workshop for the park rangers about “Non-invasive Methods to Study Jaguars”. The key purpose of these activities was to raise awareness of the research being carried out within the Tortuguero National Park
to the key stakeholders. Once we gathered and analyzed all the information we will be able to establish priority areas for conservation within the park and its buffer area, as well as future conservation policies at the local level. It is expected that wildlife managers of the park will use the information generated as a complementary tool to make practical management and conservation actions of the jaguar in the Tortuguero National Park. This project has the support from Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation Jaguar Research Grant Program, Rufford Small Grants Foundation, Idea Wild and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Stephanny Arroyo-Arce, Jaguar Researcher 

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