Big Cat Volunteering in Costa Rica
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Tracking Big Cats & Their Prey

Why Big Cats?


The Jaguar isn’t just a sleek, mysterious predator lurking in the jungles of Central and South America – it’s also an umbrella species, crucially important to conservation-related decisions made about the habitats they live in. Sadly, Jaguar and other big cats are among the most threatened predators, facing poaching, loss of critical habitat, and increasing conflicts with humans and livestock.

The Osa Peninsula is one of the last landscapes that can still support not only Jaguar but also Margay, Ocelot, Jaguarundi, and Puma, making it an area of special concern. In 1999, the Osa Peninsula was declared one ninety Jaguar Conservation Sites and one of the most important places for conservation of this species.

To track these felines in the we paired up with Costa Rica’s National University to create a Camera Trap Network for the Osa Peninsula, comprised of NGOs, hotels, eco-lodges, and private landowners who contribute to the research and conservation of wild cats and their prey.

How You Can Help

As a volunteer, you’ll help us study big cats, their prey and habitat, contributing to scientific knowledge and conservation efforts of these species.

  • You’ll spend one week learning how to identify big cats, their prey, and their tracks, then accompany the program coordinator or a Research Field Assistant (RFA) in the field to identify traces of big cats and their prey.
  • You’ll help with data collection and entry, maintain the camera trap electronic database, sort images and help with camera trap maintenance.

What You’ll Learn

  • Field skills and lab skills used in actual research projects
  • Mammalian track identification, photo identification, photo analysis, and data analysis.
  • Group tracking identification, prey identification, feline identification and more.

Additional Details

Work schedule: You’ll work three 8-hour days per week, including 2 days of data analysis and one day of fieldwork. Outside of the 3-day commitment, you’ll be able to assist on other projects, and help our staff with various small tasks to keep our station running smoothly.

Commitment: We ask that you commit to a minimum 4-week stay to participate in this project, due to the extensive training required. The longer you stay, the more you’ll learn!

Cost: A nightly fee of $45 includes accommodations in shared rooms, 3 meals a day, snacks, and wifi in the dining hall and laboratory. The $300 program fee covers the cost of materials and equipment as well as one fun, off-site activity – either kayaking or horseback riding.

Travel: While you are responsible for their own travel arrangements to and from Osa Conservation sites, we are happy to help book a taxi from the airport to our station.

More Info

Contact [email protected] for more information.

Apply to Volunteer with this Project!

Other volunteer projects:

Saving Sea Turtles

Restoring Osa’s Forests

Building a Sustainable Food System