Frequently asked questions

Why is it important to study jaguars?

These species are indicators of the integrity of ecosystems, and they play an important role in maintaining the balance inside such ecosystems; however, wild populations have decreased significantly over the past 50 years throughout their entire distribution range, their main threats in Costa Rica being the illegal hunting of their prey, the loss of their habitat and their death as retaliation for feline-human conflicts.

Why carry out genetic studies of the jaguar population in Costa Rica?

All carnivore species are highly vulnerable to the loss of their habitat, particularly the largest species, due to conflicts with humans, to their low population density and to their need for large physical grounds to fulfill their basic needs for food, shelter and reproduction. Deforestation is the main problem for the conservation of mammals in Costa Rica, since it has already been the cause of the loss of habitat of these species. It is known that the increase in the fragmentation of the jaguar habitat represents one of the main challenges for future conservation efforts and for maintaining their populations with a healthy genetic structure. Due to their high vulnerability, active management plans are required, especially in countries where they are most endangered.

Population isolation has been linked to the loss of genetic variability and the increase of endogamy in several highly mobile species such as the mountain lion, the leopard, and, of course, the jaguar. The genetic impact of population fragmentation and loss of connectivity may range from insignificant to severe. In order to guarantee the long-term survival of felines in Costa Rica, conservation strategies that promote maintaining high levels of gene flow between the different geographical areas are necessary. Therefore, in carrying out population genetic studies we can establish biological barriers to their genetic flow and determine the degree of connectivity and isolation of the different populations in the country. In determining the levels of genetic variability of feline populations and their population structure, the effects caused by habitat fragmentation and population reduction due to current threats may be determined. This is a preliminary step for establishing the best protection measures inside the conservation units, since this is a pioneering study for both Costa Rica and Central America.

How many jaguars are there in Costa Rica?

This is a recurrent question, but there are not any studies at national level that could provide an estimate.

What do jaguars eat?

Their diet adapts according to the region, although in Costa Rica they feed mainly on sea turtles, collar peccaries, Billy goats, pacas, some birds, etc.


We at the Jaguar Foundation wish to express our deepest thanks to the contributors, who, like us, have believed in the importance of supporting the efforts of the state Universities in the conservation and preservation of the jaguar.