|Jaguar Occurrence and Abundance in the Landscape of Sector San Cristobal|
|Location: Área de Conservación Guanacaste, Costa Rica|
|Species: Jaguars and their prey|
|Abstract: Priority actions for long-term conservation of jaguars include investigation of habitat requirements at the landscape scale. If species need the heterogeneous areas where habitat has been disturbed, efforts should focus on how to manage these areas within each particular context. Jaguar and their prey demonstrate important processes in the landscape, such as predation and dispersal. The landscape under study links between two National Parks with a mosaic of different forest cover and land use. As such, the model of conservation applied aims to accomplish the consolidation of these two conservation areas. This study will determine how many jaguars are found in the landscape of Sector San Cristobal using photographic capture-recapture sampling. It will also detect if there is an existing relationship between jaguar frequency of occurrence and two landscape characteristics: heterogeneity and prey availability. Track counts and frequencies of occurrence; will be mapped using a GIS.|
Project Update: May 2006
Sector San Cristobal (SSC) is located between two volcanoes in northwestern Costa Rica. The landscape presents a particular socio-economic and natural context that allows the persistence of a big predator, the jaguar, with low conflict between its populations and humans.
Jaguar abundance and density in the field of SSC and surrounding areas were measured. Camera traps, activated by heat and motion, were used to estimate population numbers. Density estimates are currently being analyzed.
Although the extreme weather made it very difficult, track sampling was completed. The tracks of jaguar and their prey were searched for along trails in the area. Data was entered using a Geographic Information System (GIS), where patterns of abundance could be observed on a map.
Forty local cattle ranchers were surveyed on the interest of conflict for jaguar predation on cattle. The local ranchers were able to express their concerns. There are 14 ranchers that loose cattle and horses to jaguar and puma attacks on a regular basis. Ranchers do not have predation prevention methods and management of cattle is minimal. The majority of ranches affected by jaguar and puma attacks are larger than 100ha and have many animals; it seems the losses can be tolerated.
This project contributes to the effort to plan an international strategy for the conservation of jaguar and its habitats. Findings are localized but several repetitions of these methods are being used throughout Costa Rica and other countries to gain a better perspective. Experts are convincing authorities to take management actions to save this species.