(PRWEB) May 4, 2004
For Tracy Wilson, Conservation Director of the Feline Conservation Federation (FCF) news that ÂtigrillosÂ had been trapped in the jungle of Ecuador kept her anxiously checking her mailbox.
She tingled with excitement when four images of wild ocelots ÂtrappedÂ on camera were mailed to her from the rainforest of South America.
ÂWe at FCF teamed up with biologist Jim Sanderson of Conservation International and Playa de Oro Reserva de Tigrillos in January 2003,Â she said. ÂOur goal was to kick off a wildlife surveillance camera project in the rainforests of Ecuador.Â
The camera projectÂs main thrust is documenting the activity of six wild feline species; margay, ocelot, jaguarundi, oncilla, cougar and jaguar, collectively known as ÂtigrillosÂ by the native people.
ÂWeÂll also look at the animals they prey on, all this within the boundaries of a reserve called Playa de Oro Reserva de Tigrillos,Â Wilson pointed out.
Using four of SandersonÂs film cameras, the group relies on Sanderson to oversee the project and to analyze data collected.
ÂMy job was to provide the fieldwork, install the cameras, and train the local staff on how to keep them in working order,Â Wilson said.
By November 2003 the project gained additional support when the Cincinnati Zoo Keepers awarded a $1,950 grant to buy three more cameras Â these digital.
ÂWhenever any type of animal comes within range of a cameraÂs heat and motion sensors, the camera takes their picture,Â Wilson said.
ÂI also lead tours to the reserve several times a year to bring income to the reserve and village, and use this time to check in on the project and troubleshoot any equipment problems.Â
The 25,000-acre reserve belongs to the people of Playa de Oro, who live without electricity, phones, mail service, or roads.
Located in the El Choco Rainforest, one of the wettest and least studied regions in the world, the reserve dedicates its efforts to protecting margay and other wild felines.
FCF members have donated a satellite phone, solar panels, battery-powered tools, a laptop computer, veterinary and animal care supplies.
ÂWeÂve even funded repairs to the lodgeÂs roof,Â Wilson said. ÂAnd those of us from FCF visiting share our knowledge of animal husbandry and pitch in to build enclosures for wildlife being rehabilitated for release.Â
FCF, a non-profit organization devoted to conservation of wild cat species is working to make the research community aware of Playa de Oro Reserve.
ÂOur long-term goal is a telemetry program to document existing catsÂ territories,Â Wilson said. ÂAnd when the reserve receives an ocelot or margay suitable for release back into the wild, the animal should also be radio-collared so that we can monitor its progress.Â
Such data can then be used in similar rescue operations elsewhere.
Guided tours to Playa de Oro are hosted by FCF several times a year. Villagers earn income and guests enjoy a quality experience with minimal impact upon the native ecosystem.
For information about Playa de Oro Reserve and future tours visit the Feline Conservation Federation web site at http://www.felineconservation.org.