By Juan Carlos Cruz
Jaguars are very charismatic creatures, and for indigenous people and ancient civilizations, were considered symbols of power, majesty and wisdom. While that symbolism still holds true, we now also recognize their intrinsic value for maintaining biodiversity in the forests. They are on the top of the food chain and therefore the health of their population affects all subsequent levels. In the absence of Jaguars, breakdowns occur in the ecosystem such as increases of populations of herbivores, decreases in population of some species of plants (eaten by herbivores) and loss of other species of birds, insects and reptiles that depend on those plants.
The presence of Jaguars in a region is an indicator of the health and integrity of the forest since they are the most sensitive species of all large cats to exploitation and habitat alteration. Accordingly, they are also known as “health indicator species.”
In addition to celebrating a great year in 2012, Osa Conservation recently honored two staff members as outstanding employees of the year. If you have visited us here in Osa, these are most likely familiar faces. Thanks Agustín and Manuel for all of your hard work and for being such integral and exemplary members of the Osa Conservation team.
Augustín has been working with OC for five years on our land stewardship and maintenance team but has lived in Osa for 38. He grew up in Cerro Arbolito a remote property part of the OC conservation properties. He and his wife Annia live at the Greg Gund Conservation Center
. When he is not working he can often be found helping Annia cook, leading students and researchers on tree identification hikes, and playing his guitar. He is incredibly passionate and is always exploring, seeking new learning opportunities, and sharing amazing videos of his jungle encounters. Augustin is an invaluable member of the land stewardship team, a dedicated conservationist and natural leader.
Manuel Sánchez was born next to the Piro River and truly has the Osa in his blood. Before he began to work with Osa Conservation, Manuel was already learning these forests like the back of his hand, and helping his father protect turtle nests on Piro beach. In the last two years as a full-time staff member, Manuel’s strong work ethic and deep knowledge of wildlife have become one of our organization’s greatest assets. Manuel has been a critical component of our sea turtle monitoring program and this past year he visited the Georgia Sea Turtle Center to learn new research techniques to train our staff and volunteers on data collection and nest protection. Manuel has learned English and wildlife photography on his own volition and his aptitude for both are unmistakable – just check out our Facebook
photo albums for proof!
As some of you may know from following our Facebook and Twitter posts, Manuel Sanchez Mendoza, our Research Assistant and Sea Turtle Conservation Program Field Coordinator, has one heck of a talented eye for photographing wildlife. As an Osa native, born and raised in the peninsula, Manuel has always been fascinated with wildlife, and although he has no formal training in photography, we like to think he has a natural-born knack for it. The past few weeks in particular have been very successful for Manuel and his camera, and we at Osa Conservation are excited to share his sightings with you! All of these photos were taken at or around our Piro Biological Center.
White-faced capuchin monkey (Cebus capucinus)
Great Curassow (Crax rubra)