Kaminando Jaguar Connectivity Project

Conservation in 
Latin America

About the Organization

The iconic jaguar is the largest wild cat in the Americas and the third largest big cat in the world. This wide-ranging carnivore plays an important role in the area’s ecology, culture and history. However, the species is losing ground. Jaguars are considered near threatened throughout their range. The decline of jaguars is attributed to anthropogenic pressures that conflict with their basic ecological needs. The biggest threat comes from habitat loss; prey depletion and human persecution also contribute to their decline. Since little is known about jaguar populations in the Isthmus of Panama, Kaminando's project was launched in 2016. We work to create lasting solutions for jaguar conservation by acquiring scientific knowledge, community outreach, and empowering residents to participate in the most urgent conservation challenges threatening our flagship species.

The Conservation Challenge

Habitat loss: Human development, agricultural expansion and encroachment into protected areas fragments wilderness, causing local extinctions of jaguars. Large-scale land use modification creates patches of habitat and reduces connectivity, making it hard for jaguars to safely travel across the landscape in search of food, mates or territory.

Human persecution: As human populations increase and development into natural areas expands, human-jaguar conflict accelerates. Illegal killing of jaguars results from revenge killing for the loss of cattle, killing out of fear, and more recently, poaching for skin, teeth and claws that are sold on the black market.

Prey scarcity: As human development continues to expand, trails and roads provide hunters with easier access into the forest. This allows more vulnerable prey species to be hunted, reducing their availability for the jaguar.

Conservation Approach

Research: Systematic studies of jaguar populations in Panama have been lacking, despite the recognized importance of population connectivity-gene flow between South and North America. Kaminando’s research program registers photographic imagery of jaguars and prey by deploying a network of camera traps throughout the study area. The images determine movements and home range sizes of the species, as well as the anthropological impacts of deforestation and poaching.

Alternative Livelihoods: Central to Kaminando’s philosophy is to provide local residents with the basic information and technical capacity they need to conserve the cloud forest and the biodiversity it supports. Kaminando encourages community participation by employing local assistants in research efforts and instruct interested members of the community (Colonos and KunaYala) on applied field research in situ (i.e., guiding, setting camera traps). A homestay program and a collaboration with Kuna Yala artisans to promote local products is being explored.

Outreach and Education: Environmental education opportunities are limited in the valley, and there exists little awareness of how truly exceptional and vital the cloud forest is. Thus, through a series of updates on jaguar research in the schools and at community meetings, Kaminando reaches ~300 people from four communities. The awareness program includes the ecological importance of the MVP, and the detrimental effects of deforestation and poaching in sensitive areas. Most importantly, Kaminando promotes harmonious human-wildlife coexistence and alleviates misconceptions about jaguars.

Oakland Zoo Takes Action

Quarters for Conservation: The Zoo chose Kaminando as one of its 2018-2019 Quarters for Conservation featured projects, focusing on jaguar conservation efforts in Panama.

Fundraising: Oakland Zoo provides funds for the jaguar camera-trap research program and community education and collaborations.  

Outreach Education: Oakland Zoo raises awareness of the jaguar and threats to its survival by including the project in special events, classes, lectures and presentations, as well as providing educational materials, marketing, social media public outreach.

Staff Volunteers: Oakland Zoo will sponsor zoo staff to join Kaminando in Panama to assist with their camera trap research efforts in the field.

You Can Take Action Too

Name a jaguar: Name one of these iconic cats after your loved one. They will appreciate this legacy of your love and concern for wildlife.

Fundraising lectures: Set up your own fundraising for jaguars among family, friends, colleagues, general public. This could be extremely fun,providing your guests with updates of our jaguar research and the cloud forest.

Join Kaminando as a volunteer Field Assistant and Co-researcher: If you are a student (undergrad and graduate) we program expeditions that present students with a hands-on-research experience. To researchers, we facilitate research opportunities on taxa of their expertise.

Jaguar Challenge Tour: Kaminando is pleased to invite you to join a biannual jaguar challenge tour. You will not return home unaffected by visiting the cloud forest. Your visit promotes the sustainability of the jaguar program and generates income to the local community.

Other ways to support a healthy habitat for jaguars:

-Buy rain forest friendly coffee and chocolate

-Support local people for a sustainable livelihood.

-Avoid petting zoos that allow contact or photos with jaguars or other wild species.

Resources

Visit Kaminando's website for more information