The work GVI has accomplished studying jaguars in Tortuguero National Park has started to catch the attention of feline biologists and conservation organizations. Since moving to the Jalova field station in 2010 the frequency of jaguar captures on camera has steadily increased. Jaguars can be recognized and told apart by their unique rosette patterns on their fur, and to date GVI has identified 10 different individuals active in the 3 mile survey area. They have achieved this with over 500 nights of camera trapping and more than 1000 jaguar pictures collected and identified in their database. A scientific paper written by Diogo Verissimo, a previous GVI staff member, brought to the attention of the media and the scientific world the incredible and unique interactions between Jaguars and Marine Turtles on the Tortuguero beach. We believe this relationship is what is principally supporting the coexistence of such a large jaguar population in such a small area.
“Panthera was founded in 2006 with the singular mission of conserving the world’s 36 species of wild cats, it currently focuses its range-wide conservation strategies on the world’s largest, most imperilled cats, one of these being the jaguar, the largest cat in the Western Hemisphere”. The hard work of the GVI Costa Rica Expedition team has been repaid with the possibility of working alongside this leading organization. Roberto Salom-Perez, manager of Panthera’s Costa Rica jaguar projects, visited our Jalova base whilst working here with the BBC wildlife team back in September 2011. Nearly 8 months later, after a lot of paperwork and meetings the first signatures were laid on what will be a 3 year collaboration between Panthera and GVI.
Expectations are high on both sides. The GVI team will be helping Panthera field scientists as they try and explore the extent and distribution of the jaguar population in the whole of Tortuguero National Park. The small piece of the puzzle that we have been working on for the past two years may now fit into a larger framework that will help with the management and conservation of jaguars in Costa Rica. Expertise from the Panthera staff will help the GVI team come up with new methodologies and extend the GVI camera trapping project to cover a larger survey area. They will also provide the means to allow us to expand our study techniques to include scat collection and analysis, a development that could greatly aid our understanding of the local jaguar population.
Recent funds to the National Park helped in facilitating extra patrols during the high poaching and hunting period Semana Santa (Holy week before Easter). During this time there is higher demand for turtle products and also increased activity from hunters in the forest of the park, looking for deer and wild pigs.
Extra personnel were able to be drafted in to run the patrols through the means of police. This adds not only extra people but also more authoritative figures so further people can be detained for law breaking. Without the food money the police would not be able to stay in the park and thus be unavailable for patrol.
These funds meant that this Semana Santa period was one of the better patrolled of all time which is good news for the local wildlife. However poaching is still rife in the park and increased protection needs to be sought year round. Without the extra funds in the future this will not be facilitated and the future green season will see a larger strain on park ranger resources.
We would like to share the most recent trustee report from the GVI Charitable Trust. This report covers the six month period from July to December 2011.
We are delighted to share that this has been by far our most successful period, raising in six months nearly as much as we did the whole of the previous year. This increase in funding has brought a corresponding increase in the impact we have been able to create on our programs around the world.
During this period we have invested in sustainable education across Latin America including support for the elderly in Guatemala and income generation schemes to support education in Honduras and Ecuador. In Mexico we have worked with a community to establish a recycling centre and in Kenya our partners in Mombasa will now realise their goal of seeing impoverished students through to completion of the primary education earning recognised qualifications for the first time.
These are just a few highlights of an amazing, productive and rewarding six months. Thank you to everyone who has supported us and played a crucial role in these achievements.
In addition to our aims to fund a patrol team to protect turtle nesting habitats GVI are heavily involved in a long term scientific research program aimed at aided conservation efforts and expanding knowledge on the importance of doing so.
Our research takes place in a remote spot at the southern end of Tortuguero National Park at the beginning of 2010. Tortuguero is justifiably famous for its globally important numbers of endangered marine turtles and GVI has been working with the Sea Turtle Conservancy for many years to help with the monitoring program of these amazing creatures (reports from this program can be found on the Sea Turtle Conservancy website - www.conserveturtles.org/costarica.php?page=season-reports). GVI have also been carrying out gruelling 15 mile ‘Jag-walks’ along the length of Tortuguero Beach each week to assess the extent of jaguar predation on the nesting turtles. This phenomenon, though not completely unique to Tortuguero National Park, is not being recorded and monitored to this degree anywhere else. A publication of these findings is due to be published soon.
Tortuguero also comprises of a significant terrestrial environment of winding canals and dense tropical forest the vast majority of which is inaccessible and unknown. GVI were given the opportunity to base themselves at the southern end of the National Park, just north of the Rio Jalova river mouth. Though humans have been present in the area for many years, nobody has ever conducted biological research in the area.
During our research efforts over the last year:
We also conduct a camera trapping project which is going from strength to strength and providing unparalleled insight into the mammalian fauna of the area, providing the first data regarding numbers of individual jaguars in this area of the Park.
Support for this project will help us to implement a patrol team to further protect these beautiful habitats and the animals who depend on them
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