VOLUNTEER IN COSTA RICA AND HELP CONSERVATION
By ALEXANDRA GIULETTA
The jaguar is a near-threatened species – that’s according to the nonprofit International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
Since the 1950s the population of jaguars within the Americas has plummeted from over 400,000 to an estimated 14,000 now. Although in some Latin American countries, jaguars have vanished entirely.
On the other hand, the nesting population of marine turtles in Tortuguero National Park in Costa Rica is one of the largest in the world, with endangered green, hawksbill and leatherback turtles all using the beaches within the park each year for their May to October nesting season.
Endangered species need to be protected and active efforts taken to ensure their long term survival. But what happens when one endangered species preys on another? This is the very situation that is found in Tortuguero National Park with turtles and jaguars, the location of GVI’s research base and on-going wildlife conservation projects.
In 2002, the Costa Rican Ministry of the Environment and Energy (now Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications) began a study in Tortuguero National Park, focusing solely on jaguar predation of nesting marine turtles, which aimed to record not only the total number of marine turtles killed by jaguars but also, using track surveys, how jaguar and marine turtles use the beach habit
After 2003 the study ceased because of a lack of resources. In July 2005 the Ministry invited Global Vision International (GVI) to establish a systematic monitoring program in the Park based on the discontinued investigations (Jaguar Panthera onca predation of marine turtles: conflict between flagship species in Tortuguero, Costa Rica; D. Veríssimo, 2012).