Osa is one of the last landscapes in Central America that can still sustain the full suite of large cats: Margay (Leopardus wiedii), Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi), Puma (Puma concolor), and Jaguar (Panthera onca).
Despite a relatively intact and healthy forest here in Osa, these cats still face pressures such as poaching, habitat loss to deforestation and land conversion, and increasing conflicts with humans and livestock.
Reason for Conservation:
In 1999 the Peninsula was declared one of the ninety Jaguar Conservation Sites of the world and one of the most important places for conservation of this species, which is critically endangered in Costa Rica.
Based on twenty-five years of ecological research in the area, conducted by the National University of Costa Rica (UNA), through Programa Jaguar, it is apparent that Jaguar populations are on the decline. These cats need large territories and connectivity between forested areas, or biological corridors. Habitat protection and focus on these corridors is one tool in our kit, but in order to identify corridors in the Peninsula and make informed decisions that will lead to the conservation of these species we need accurate information on presence and abundance.
To that end, Osa Conservation created the Camera Trap Network for the Osa Peninsula in collaboration with UNA (National University of Costa Rica). This uninterrupted monitoring program is comprised of camera traps placed on Osa Conservation properties, in Corcovado National Park and also on member properties. Members of the network include local eco-lodges and private landowners who are eager to contribute to the research and conservation of wild cats and their prey.
The camera traps are set up in places with high probability of presence of these species. They take pictures based on a motion sensor so every time an animal passes by we have photographic evidence of them that we can later use to learn about the population trends of each one. These images are especially important for the estimation of the density of spotted cats, as they have distinctive patterns among them and individuals can be identified. Our resident jaguar that has been spotted in the area has been named Rukka, or warrior, in the local indigenous language.
To get a member started, we visit their properties and walk their trails to identify the best places to set up cameras. We train the personnel to download the pictures and store the data so that they send it to us for analysis and processing. We share periodic reports with network members so that they know not just about the felines on their own property, but also about the images captured all around the peninsula. It is truly a team effort!
Members of the Osa Camera Trap Network:
In 2017, Osa Conservation collaboratively hosted partners for the very first workshop of the Osa Camera Trap Network. The Network is now composed of more than 20 members in the Peninsula, including Corcovado and Piedras Blancas National Parks, the Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve and Private Reserves. Additionally, more members are expected to join the initiative – producing one of, if not the largest camera trap systems in Central America!
As part of the workshop, this Network identified several of the key priorities for 2018, including:
- Estimating the current density of Jaguar in the Osa Peninsula.
- Estimating abundance of terrestrial mammals among the different protected areas in the Osa Peninsula.
- Identifying anthropogenic and environmental factors affecting the distribution and abundance of terrestrial mammals in the Osa Peninsula.
- Evaluating the biological corridors in the Osa Peninsula.
Working together, we will be able to take on this ambitious and exciting work. We see this workshop as an important stepping stone to mark the beginning of this essential collaboration to help conserve these amazing species and their ecosystems.
Are you Interested?
If you would like to find out more about joining this network or supporting our efforts please contact us and stay up to date on the latest sightings on our Facebook page.
Read one of our recent blogs about this exciting network here!
To support our work for wildcat monitoring and conservation, please consider donating here.