The Jaguar Program of Universidad Nacional released amazing video of a mama jaguar and her two cubs, just in time for Mother’s Day. The video was taken by nocturnal cameras in the Dry Forest of Guanacaste.
“What better way to celebrate this day (Mother’s Day), than to see a Mama Jaguar and her two cubs in the Dry Forest of the Parque Nacional Santa Rosa!”
Researchers have been following this jaguar, dubbed “Maria”, by the GPS collar she has worn for the last two years. Thanks to the GPS collar, scientists at the Universidad Nacional have been able to study her range of movement, territory, habits and habitats – information previously unknown to investigators. Said members of the Jaguar Program, “There is a staggering lack of information about these beautiful animals. Scientists believe that the relevance of jaguars is the fact that their presence is an indicator of a healthy forest, including both jaguars and their food chain in that healthy habitat.”
Jaguars are an endangered species. The wild population of jaguars has decreased significantly over the past fifty years. In Costa Rica, the decrease in jaguar population is due mostly to their loss of natural habitat and to illegal hunting practices. The efforts of the Jaguar Program to preserve this population began in the Osa Peninsula, but has grown to include Santa Rosa National Park, Guanacaste National Park, Rincon de la Vieja National Park, Barbilla National Park, Corcovado National Park, and Golfo Dulce Forestry Reserve.
The wild jaguar population is monitored via trap cameras, satellite tracking, and park rangers. Those park rangers are also trained in conflict resolution to be able to intervene between cattle farmers and the jaguars who hunt their herds. Jaguars are carnivores – they only eat meat – including deer, peccary, monkeys, birds, frogs, fish, small rodents, turtles (including the shells). They are solitary eaters, often dragging their prey for a good distance to be able to climb a tree, and eat in peace.
Baby jaguars are called cubs (cachorros in Spanish), and are born with their eyelids tightly shut. After two weeks, their eyes open, leaving them less defenseless. After six months, the mother jaguar begins to teach them to hunt. The Universidad Nacional video is probably of cubs at about 6 months to a year. After their second birthday, the cubs leave home to go off and hunt by themselves.
Jaguars have yellow or orange coats, with dark spots, and short legs. Their spots are unlike any other large cats: the spots look like little roses, and are called rosettes. The team that captured the video of Maria and her cubs commented, “It’s a great pleasure to see her (Maria) walking in her territory, and even better, teaching future generations of jaguars how to defend their habitats.”
Defending the jaguar population of Costa Rica is essential to their preservation and conservation. The Jaguar Program of the International Institute for Wildlife Conservation and Management (ICOMVIS) of the Universidad Nacional of Costa Rica is to be commended for their efforts in preserving these magnificent creatures. It was a Happy Mother’s Day for researchers, scientists, and conservationists everywhere.
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