Ricardo Moreno and his mission to protect Panama’s Big Cats

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Ricardo Moreno is a wildlife biologist who is dedicating his studies and career to saving the jaguar and other big cats here in Panama. He is director of Yaguara Panama an organization whose mission is to study the status of jaguars in Panama, educate the public and long term advise public policy toward the preservation of this magnificent animal. Ricardo is associated with the Smithsonian Institute and was named this year by the National Geographic Society as an emerging explorer to remedy some of the biggest challenges facing our planet.

Ricardo came to Mount Totumas Cloud Forest in August and we walked some of our trails, set up camera traps and reviewed more than 4 years of photos we have documented here with our trail cameras. Bordering directly La Amistad NP and being neighbors to cattle farmers in the area, we are in the critical buffer zone and contact area where these big cats roam.

We understand the challenges Ricardo is facing in educating the public regarding the protection of jaguars and mountain lions. Here in the Rio Colorado valley we are the first presence of eco tourism in the area and during 8 years here we have discussed with many of our neighbors the importance of protecting Panama’s natural heritage. Many local farmers, like in many parts of the world, view the big cats as a threat to their economic interests when they occasionally kill livestock. This is the core issue in solving the problem in protecting these top predators.

Ricardo’s enthusiasm and energy is remarkable and all the more so because the challenges facing these big cats is daunting. He is an important ambassador for these magnificent top predators and is having a positive impact.

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During Ricardo’s visit we were fortunate to find a fresh track of a big cat. And we made a plaster cast and determined that this was a mountain lion

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12280168 When Ricardo reviewed our photo’s we were thrilled to find this immature jaguar image that we had previously thought was an ocelot. This was back in 2014. We are interested to place our camera traps in some of the ridge lines that descent from La Amistad NP to see if we can capture more images.

20170902_152018 Ricardo Moreno giving talk to the public In Cerro Punta in August 2017 in his effort to educate the public on his mission to preserve the big cats. His enthusiasm is contagious!

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Ricardo wearing the most recent version of the “hummingbird hat”. It’s not just the big cats that puts a smile on Ricardo’s face!

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