The Large Cats of the Osa Peninsula
The Osa Peninsula is home to a slew of different feline species, and is one of the last remaining places in Central America able to support and sustain this large cat diversity and population. Feline species include: Margay (Leopardus wiedii), Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi), Puma (Puma concolor), and Jaguar (Panthera onca)
Ecological Importance of Felines
As a top-tier predator, the ecological role of cats on the Osa Peninsula involve the maintenance of biodiversity. It may seem counterintuitive that a predator actually be the reason when the Osa is able to maintain such a large biodiversity, but take into account this scenario: With the extinction of top-tier cats, herbivores are left without a check system, and their number are left to grow exponentially. As a result of the over-inflation of herbivores, plant species begin to dwindle, and a cascade reaction occurs – any animal that needs a dwindling plant species to survive will also begin to feel the loss of the big cats. Species may include other herbivores competing for food resources, animals that use the plant as nests such as insects or birds, and so on. It takes one umbrella species to expire for a food-web to be altered permanently, as unfortunately the effects usually for the worst.
At this time, the current threats to the feline species of the Osa include negative human interactions, such as retaliation against felines resulting in their deaths and poaching, habitat destruction resulting in loss of prey, and land conversion resulting in loss of habitat.
Osa Conservation Cat-Camera Traps
Our “cat trap”
programconsists of 10 camera traps as of October 15, 2013. These camera
traps are distributed throughout mature forest, secondary forest, and within
the vicinity of old plantation where forest patches are connected. All of the
camera traps are also located within the Vida Silvestre Osa National Refugee.
Locations are chosen according to how highly likely the
probability of snapping a photo of the cat actually is, which means that
researchers like Juan Carlos Cruz Dias are looking for sites that show claw
marking on trees, cat tracks, high populations of prey, and presence of feline
droppings. The ideal program would
consist of at least 12 camera traps with 16 being the actual most optimal number
of traps.Significance of Research
At this time it is the hopes of researcher Juan Carlos
Cruz Dias to estimate the temporal activities of the felines, the population
density of the felines, and the relative abundance of felines to their prey.
The most important aspect is yearly monitoring of population trends.
How YOU Can Help
We are now attempting to buy new camera traps for Juan Carlos Cruz with the help of donors. Each camera trap is valued at around $200. Our goal would be to support Juan Carlo's project with the optimal number of camera's needed for his research project (he has 10, he would need 16) - we are looking to fill a donation of $1,200.