BENEFITING: FRIENDS OF THE OSA
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 Cats
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 Traps
Our “cat camera trap” program consists 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 six new camera traps for Juan Carlos Cruz with the help of donors. Each camera trap is valued at $200. If you would like to see Juan Carlos Cruz’ work with camera traps, check out the images posted – those are all from the current camera traps he has worked with!
You can see more camera trap photos on our website http://osaconservation.org. Look through our blog which details more about past projects, and holds some even cooler looking photos. You can also check out our website to see some of the other great projects Osa Conservation has been involved with!