Did you know that all spotted wild cats, including jaguars, can be identified by their spots because each cat has its own unique pattern? This is why we put camera traps in key locations to study wildcat populations, especially those of ocelots (Leopardus pardalis), pumas (Puma concolor) and jaguars (Panthera onca). See the pictures below of the same individual, taken by two different cameras!
The camera trap project began in 2006 in the Matapalo-Corcovado region of the Osa Peninsula and remains to date the most intensive study of wildcats using camera traps in the world. By 2007, we had placed a total of 134 camera traps in the area to simultaneously assess the status of the local wildcat populations, and proved the existence of species previously thought to be exterpated in the area, including jaguars, white-lipped peccaries (Tayassu pecari), Baird’s tapir (Tapirus bairdii) and the red brocket (Mazama americana).
The project is ongoing, with one of the greatest successes to date recorded in March 2010, when one of our photos showed that a jaguar previously seen inside Corcovado National Park (in 2009, near the Sirena ranger station) is also active outside the park, confirming the importance of conserving this area and of continuing to use the cameras.
We have placed cameras in other areas of the Peninsula known to be most important for wildcat conservation, including Drake Bay, Río Nuevo, Mogos, Santa Cecilia and Bahía Chal, and have plans to launch a definitive study within the Piedras Blancas National Park and adjacent areas. The pilot study for the Piedras Blancas project has already recorded photos of all five of the feline species known to the Osa, along with 24 other species, including Baird’s tapir which has for years been considered extinct in the area!
The success of the pilot study is really significant, because it offers hope for species with large habitat ranges, like the jaguar. If these areas can be protected, it could allow enough overlap of individuals’ territories to maintain a viable gene pool for the species within Mesoamerica.
We’ve obtained really interesting results over the years, and not only for wildcats. The camera traps have captured photos of many other species native to the rainforests of the Osa Peninsula and we encourage you to take a look at our photo gallery or see who are our partners!
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