Saving Lives and Breaking Records!

August is a busy month here in Jalova, especially for the Jag Team. During this time of year, we are at the peak of the green sea turtle nesting season, which also coincides with the peak data collection season for our jaguar research.

With turtles on the beach, the jaguars are close behind. Marine turtles are a valuable and favorable resource for the jaguars living on the coasts of Costa Rica. With a high amount of food around, the jaguar population can thrive. The healthy jaguar population in Tortuguero National Park is keeping the Jag Team very busy this month.

With surveys daily looking for fresh predations on the beach and new sites to set up our remote camera traps the data is piling up. We have already surpassed the number of predations recorded last year; a tribute to the healthy jaguar population and protection of the park but also to the outstanding Jalova team for their diligence and accuracy in finding fresh predations and putting in the miles along the coast looking for signs of carcasses.

The theme of this month can be best described as Saving lives and breaking records! The lives saved are those of the animals living in the national park as staff and awesome volunteers come together day and night to collect valuable data to help better understand and protect these species. We also run into the more practical lifesaving skills, such as when we find female turtles wedged under logs or hatchlings burning up in the hot Caribbean sun.

The records broken are those of the most predations in a three-month phase by jaguars on marine turtles ever recorded. Our famous hard-core conservation survey ‘Jag Walk’ has proven no problem for the volunteers and staff this year. Once a week an elite team of five walk the coastline for 15-miles in the ridiculous weather of the Caribbean searching for turtle carcasses. This month we have set the record for most turtle kills worked in a survey- 44 carcasses and seven long hours later, the Jag Team has something to be proud about.

It’s never our goal to actually see jaguars in the wild, our focus lies more on the importance of capturing camera trap footage of them in a natural state with no human influence. We do this in two ways: one by putting cameras on trails to help us identify individuals in the park and second by putting cameras up on fresh kills hoping for a return and a chance to capture footage of feeding and social behavior.

With lots of turtles this season there have been many opportunities to set up “kill cams” capturing absolutely stunning images and extremely enlightening footage of the secret life of these so-called solitary cats. The data collected this year and the efficiency of the Jalova team is some of the best in years. With great support from our partners at Coastal Jaguar Conservation and with breathtaking videos of this amazing species almost daily, we think that this is one of the most exciting projects GVI has!

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