We are studying jaguars at two sites in Panama: Darién National Park and Soberanía National Park. Although both are tropical forests, they differ in terms of their wildlife and human presence in the park. Darién is an extremely remote park located on the Colombian border and can only be reached by boat or on foot. The tropical forest ecosystem is nearly pristine and is home to many large animals like jaguars, pumas, tapirs, peccaries, harpy eagles, and macaws. But as people establish cattle ranches and farms in the surrounding area, the park’s wildlife is becoming threatened. In contrast, Soberanía has long been affected by human activities due to its location alongside the Panama Canal and close proximity to Panama’s two largest cities. Many of the large animals that are found in Darién have either disappeared or are very rare in Soberanía. We are using trail cameras to study which animals are continuing to thrive in Soberanía, and how jaguars and other large animals in Darién are responding to an increasing human presence in the area.
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