Jaguar in Costa Rica
ASU researchers part of group studying feasibility of Costa Rica wildlife corridor to allow threatened cats (jaguar) room to thrive
In Costa Rica, that national expression has many interpretations, including “Enjoy life,” “Take it easy,” and even “Hello” and “Goodbye.” Yet the literal English translation (“pure life”) and touristic understandings of the phrase are lacking in comparison to its use by ticos — the Spanish word Costa Ricans use to describe themselves.
Some ticos say “pura vida” refers to a way of living — recognizing that life is good and that whatever your current situation, it can always be worse for others.
Such is the case for one of that nation’s most formidable icons: the jaguar.
As the largest of the big cats in South America, the jaguar (Panthera onca) is a stealthy predator, nimble on land and in the water. Male jaguars mark huge swaths of land, each claiming as much as 50 square miles as his territory. They are solitary animals, other than during mating and pregnancy seasons when the male will live with the female. These beautiful beasts can live 12 to 15 years in the wild.
However, the jaguar is in serious danger. It appears on the IUCN Red List as “near threatened,” and human activities, including poaching and deforestation, are the leading causes of its decline. Current research may indeed show that the species could qualify for a higher threat category.
“A jaguar needs a huge area to survive,” said Jan Schipper, a conservation research post-doctoral fellow working in partnership with Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences and the Phoenix Zoo-Arizona Center for Nature Conservation. “There’s not enough habitat left, so we have to figure out how to use the area that’s available in a creative way.
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