My name is Dante I am currently 16 years old and studying Maths, Geography and Biology at A level. I am really interested in animals and especially the conservation of endangered species. Therefore, outside of the curriculum, I have chosen to go on a volunteering trip to Costa Rica to gain some real life experiences.
- All around the world the population of big cats is decreasing rapidly due to poaching and loss of habitat.
- The South American Jaguar population in 1950 was over 400,000
- This has now has plummeted to 14,000 in the whole continent.
Costa Rica is one of the few countries still populated with jaguars (as well as pumas and ocelots), and the Corcovado National Park is one of its strongholds. This is where I am going for my volunteering trip, engaging in a local project to record data and assess the danger posed to the big cats in the Park.
Although the park covers 0.03% of the world, an incredible 4% of the world’s species live there.
In order to protect these beautiful animals we need to find the population density of the species and to assess the effect of humans on them. The project does this by setting up camera traps, as well as identifying tracks and scats, which show that jaguars, ocelots and pumas are in the area. From this they can assess how effective conservation methods are for the big cats and identify any improvements needed to protect these endangered creatures.
One conservation method is to create wildlife corridors, which connect protected habitats, allowing animals to move in a larger area. This helps increase genetic diversity by preventing in-breeding.
Frontier Big Cats Conservation in Costa Rica has been doing conservation work here for several years https://frontier.ac.uk/projects/750/Costa-Rica-Big-Cats-Conservation.
From an early age, I have been interested in animals, fascinated with nature programmes and the film they capture of amazing animals. Over the years I have refined my interest to big cats, because I love how they survive, hunt, not to mention their beauty. The incredible series Planet Earth allowed me to see them up close and fired my interest even more. Unfortunately as I read more and more, it seems to me the family of Big Cats is dying out due to poaching and general human activity.
These stories have sparked my passion for the protection of endangered species and is why I’m so excited to be involved in this research project. Hopefully we can help jaguars, pumas and ocelots avoid the road to extinction.
The dates of my volunteering project are 22nd July to 7th August this year, 2018.
To fund this dream I need £1,750. Of which, I still need to raise £1000. Will you support me and help me protect these wonderful Big Cats? All gifts are gratefully received.