Saturday, 12 July 2014

CONSERVATION: Private Reserves Support National Parks in Big Cat Conservation

National parks offer large core habitat that is critical for conserving large cats, but national parks alone are not sufficient to sustain a connected and genetically healthy population. Smaller adjacent private reserves improve connectivity and increase habitat extent in areas outside these parks. Sustainable, low-impact ecotourism often incorporates private nature reserves, which can serve to create a matrix of interconnected protected areas, providing corridors to larger core habitat areas. Ecotourism areas often involve non-consumptive human use and conserve both primary and secondary forests.
One excellent example of such an operation is the Lapa Rios (Fig. 1) private nature reserve – 1,000 acres of mixed primary and secondary rainforest on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, and a substantial percentage of the last remaining tropical lowland rainforest in Central America. Within one week of camera trapping here in April 2014, we captured photos of puma (Fig. 2;Puma concolor), and their preferred food source, the white-lipped peccary (Fig. 3; Tayassu pecari), locally known as chanchos de monte.

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