San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Jaguar attacks take out livestock in northern Costa Rica

Parts of Guatuso and Alajuela, in north-central Costa Rica, are on alert this week after a series of jaguar attacks left 10 farm animals dead.

The daily La Nación reported that Environment Ministry (MINAE) officials are now in the area. The officials verified that the attacks are due to one or multiple jaguars in the area, and have released a list of recommendations for farmers to protect their animals.

MINAE told farmers not to harm the endangered jaguars while they search for a solution. This week officials set up motion-activated cameras to determine from where the cats are coming and how to protect cattle.

Costa Rica historically has had problems with jaguar and farmer conflicts. The felines require a territory of 40 square miles of forest, an area that is becoming increasingly difficult to find. The destruction of their natural habitat combined with illegal hunting of their primary food sources has driven some jaguars onto farms to hunt cattle for food.

The encounters often result in farmers illegally killing the big cats in order to protect their herds.  In June, photos of two farmers posing with a jaguar pelt went viral, alarming the Costa Rican animal rights community. MINAE and nonprofit jaguar protection groups are now devising ways to help farmers safeguard their livestock, while also preserving the lives of the endangered cat species.

According to Daniel Corrales, head of Costa Rica’s farmer-jaguar cohabitation project Panthera, farmers have a number of options that don’t involve killing the jaguar.

“Our project teaches farms how to make simple changes to deter cats,” Corrales told The Tico Times. “Sometimes all it takes is moving the cows closer to the farmer’s home or building a fence.”

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