Protecting Nicaragua’s Natural Paradise for Jaguars and Other Wildlife

Habitat loss and fragmentation have contributed to the currently endangered status of the Central American tapir. Large wild areas such as Bosawás are important for the species' survival. Photo ©John Polisar.

By John Polisar

Bosawás Biosphere Reserve in northeastern Nicaragua is home to extraordinary natural areas and abundant wildlife. Covering close to 20,000 square kilometers, the reserve features more than 300 types of trees, at least 368 bird species (representing close to half of all the birds found in the country), and a variety of large mammals that includes jaguars, pumas, white-lipped peccaries, and Baird’s tapirs in addition to a great number of amphibian and reptile species.

Habitat loss and fragmentation have contributed to the currently endangered status of the Central American tapir. Large wild areas such as Bosawás are important for the species’ survival. Photo ©John Polisar.

In addition to lowland species, Bosawás has mountainous areas with cloud forests that hold amphibian and plant species adapted to live exclusively in these high natural forests. Bosawás constitutes one of the last forested strongholds where it is possible to find all the medium and large mammal species that originally occurred along the entire length of Mesoamerica’s Caribbean region.

But despite the plenitude of fauna and flora in the core areas of Bosawás, the reserve faces serious threats to its long-term survival, including deforestation of natural forest areas for cattle ranching and unsustainable levels of wildlife hunting. Without attention and action, Bosawás’s magnificent wild resources face an uncertain future.

The St. Louis Zoo and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) worked together on the first jaguar camera trap survey in Nicaragua in 2006. WCS has conducted a number of surveys since. Photo ©Fabricio Diaz Santos.

A decade ago, WCS, where I work as coordinator for the Jaguar Conservation Program, joined up with the St. Louis Zoo to conduct the first camera-trap studies of jaguars and their prey in Nicaragua, in coordination with indigenous groups and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Nicaragua (MARENA).

The studies, conducted in —> Read More

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail