Dirty work here in Jalova!
The Jaguar Project has been a major project undertaken in Jalova since 2005 and we have been collecting data regarding Jaguar population trends, social and feeding behaviors, amongst other things, since then.
Since 2012 GVI has been partnered with Coastal Jaguar Conservation (CJC). This month Stephanny and Ian from the CJC team visited our Jalova base to re-train existing staff members and train up new staff members with new protocol and procedures, to ensure good undertaking of the research.
Setting up camera traps
Our Jaguar Project team members, Grant and Stephanie, were able to spend time with Steph and Ian, setting up both trail cameras and semi-permanent cameras on predated sea turtles. They were able to capture footage of jaguars, ocelots, tapirs, armadillos, and a variety of birds and other small mammals on the trail cameras.
Five individual jaguars were able to be identified using stills from the footage, showing one dominant male, one resident female, and three cubs. They were also fortunate enough to capture two cubs feeding on a leatherback turtle carcass that had washed up on the beach. With cubs getting older and feeding off fresh kills, it makes viewing the footage and identification that much more enjoyable knowing the new jags are living healthy lives and increasing the size of our local jag population.
This month also saw the first of the ‘JagWalk’ survey, which was completed successfully by a team of our interns, who were able to obtain data on one fresh kill. The survey team were fortunate enough to observe ocelot tracks, one fresh green turtle kill, a washed up leatherback carcass, and collect fresh jaguar scat. The new batch of volunteers and interns also underwent their training and are ready to collect data on jaguar and turtle presence along the14.5 miles of the beach that we monitor.
The team has been lucky enough to find multiple scat samples this month, which will be analyzed for genetics as well as diet. Working through scat samples is the dirty work behind the jaguar project, but it is essential in understanding what this species is consuming in our area. Analyzing scat can tell us what the jaguars are hunting and consuming, and also how often they are consuming them. It is also helpful to know what species they are consuming outside of the turtle season that helps them survive in the low resource months.
The other half of the scat analysis is genetics, from which we can identify individual jaguars through DNA. This helps us create a database on the resident population of jaguars that use the coastal habitat, as well as quantify the genetic variability between individuals as we know that gene flow is essential for the survival of any species.
With the leatherback season arriving and green turtle season just around the corner, excitement levels of our Jag Team and the jaguars themselves is elevating. Fresh tracks are found every morning on the beach, which is an indicator for our team that some amazing behavior is about to begin and we are eager to gain footage and knowledge of these events.
We look forward to bringing you news on our findings on the interaction between the jaguars and the turtles as we go into nesting season.
GVI Costa Rica
Taking samples of jag prints in the sand