The coastal zone of Tortuguero National Park, is an iconic nesting area for green turtles and an important area for jaguar conservation. Due to the high availability of prey species such as marine turtles, an important population of jaguars (resident and migratory) have been identified here too.
According to the IUCN Red list, green turtles are classified as endangered species, which means that its population is decreasing. Jaguars are classified as near threatened - this means that if habitat loss, poaching of prey and fragmentation of populations continue at the current rate the species will likely qualify for Vulnerable in the near future (http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/15953/0). Studying, preserving, protecting and raising awareness on these species are key activities to keep or restore their populations. This is a joint effort with many stakeholders involved, which involves Scientific data collection, input and data analysis, communication, education, stronger policies creation, law inforcement and awareness raise for its conservation.
GVI has been working in this region since 2010 in partnership with the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment (MINAE-ACTO), The Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC), Panthera and more recently with Coastal Jaguar Conservation (CJC), who have developed different research lines and protocols for its conservation and awareness activities. Hence, volunteers and staff have been collecting data following our partners protocols and methodologies, which has helped to provide information on jaguar and turtle dynamics, breeding, behaviour and for an ongoing jaguar genetics connectivity study; all of which has proved to be key in order to understand these species and preserve them. For instance, this year (2017), thanks to the data collected throughout the years, Coastal Jaguar Conservation worked together with the Park authorities in order to close an area of the National Park to tourism activities, due to the high jaguar activity found. Together with GVI, different workshops and activities related to jaguar and turtle conservation have been done in the close by communities.
In order to gather the data, CJC, STC along with GVI staff and volunteers, carry on permanent research projects which involves strict training and data revision in order to make sure that the data is accurate and usable to compare with other sites or to help decision makers. These types of projects involve a range of different types of equipment, which, depending on the project, it is provided by GVI, the volunteers and it's local partners.
For example, the turtle project, STC provides the tagging marks, callipers, etc; for jaguars, CJC supported by GVI, provides camera traps, batteries etc. Safety is a key part of the data gathering, so having reliable communications in case an emergency happens during the fieldwork is essential in order to ensure the sustainability of the project. Taking into consideration that the work done is in a remote location with no reliable phone cover, as only certain parts of the beach have signal, satellite phones were made available in order to support the ongoing project.
Costa Rica Country Director