Pacuare Lodge & Costa Rica Nature Adventures Supports Jaguar Research


As part of its growing commitment to environmental protection and sustainable tourism, the Pacuare Lodge owned by the Costa Rican tour operator Costa Rica Nature Adventures is supporting a project to study jaguars in the Pacuare Protected Zone.

Costa Rica Nature Adventures recently signed an agreement with Dr. Eduardo Carrillo, a professor in the Wildlife Management Program at Costa Rica’s Universidad Nacional, to study jaguars in the forest along the Pacuare River.

The tour operator runs daily rafting trips down that spectacular white-water river and its Pacuare Lodge, which is nestled between that river and the jungle, will serve as a base for biologists working on the study.

Dr. Carrillo – one of Latina America’s leading jaguar experts – will direct the study, which will be undertaken by his students. In addition to providing the researchers with food and lodging, Costa Rica Nature Adventures will provide logistical support. The company has also purchased 24 digital cameras that the biologists will place on game trails in the forest at two-kilometer intervals in order to capture images that can help them to estimate the jaguar population, and the abundance of prey species.

According to Roberto Fernández, founder and co-owner of Costa Rica Nature Adventures, this collaboration is a result of his growing concern about conservation and the environment.  “During 20 years of contact with the Pacuare’s amazing natural beauty, I’ve felt a need to contribute to the preservation of its ecosystems. It is as if the river were constantly reminding me of the importance of doing something to relieve the environmental problems that we are causing,” he said.

The largest feline in the Americas, the jaguar was once common from the southwest United States to northern Argentina, but it has been eliminated from more than half of its original range during the past century. Those spotted cats continue to be threatened by hunters and ranchers in Costa Rica, where they are increasingly restricted to isolated protected areas that are too small to sustain their species.

According to Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, Regional Vice-President of Conservation International, the study site lies in an essential area for jaguar conservation within the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, since it is between the vast wilderness of the Talamanca Cordillera and the forests of Turrialba Volcano.

“The opportunity to support jaguar research is fascinating because it’s such an extraordinary animal,” explained Fernández. “Our hope is that this project will contribute to the development of conservation policies to protect these endangered felines.”

The jaguar project complements Costa Rica Nature Adventures’ comprehensive sustainable tourism policy, which includes efforts to decrease the company’s environmental footprint, benefit communities near the Pacuare River, and contribute to conservation. Those efforts range from recycling programs at all the company’s facilities to planting trees on former pastureland near the river and using wood from reforestation projects in construction of the Pacuare Lodge. Much of the jaguar research will take place in the company’s 258-hectare (637-acre) nature reserve along the Pacuare River, which has been purchased bit by bit in an effort to protect the area’s flora and fauna.

The company is equally concerned about local people, and it works to improve life for Cabecar Indians and non-indigenous communities near the Pacuare River.  Most of the company’s employees are local and it has sponsored school improvements and other projects in communities near the Pacuare Lodge.

“Our philosophy is to give something back to nature, which has given us so much, and to harmonize our activities with nature’s processes,” noted Fernández. “We are trying to educate people, raise awareness, and motivate local communities in order to work together for sustainable development.”

If you would like to support this important research, we invite you to donate to the study. Please fill out the donation form or contact one of our travel consultants at .

Biography of the scientists conducting the study of  the jaguar

Eng. Carolina Sáenz Bolaños

She has a Bachelor’s degree in Forestry Sciences Engineering with emphasis on Forestry Management from the National University of Costa Rica. Eng. Saenz is currently a student of the International Institute of Wildlife Management and Conservation (WMC) in which she is developing her thesis called: “Medium-Large Mammals Assemble and Jaguar (Panthera onca) Population Density in an area of the Pacuare River Forest Reserve and its vicinity, Southern Caribbean, Costa Rica”.

As a student, Eng. Sáenz has developed studies such as: "Distribution and abundance of the spider monkey population (Ateles geoffroyi), large cats and their prey in Golfo Dulce Biological Corridor, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica",  and also "Estimation of the relative abundance of mammals in the Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica". Her area of interest is Wildlife conservation, mainly in the field of mammals, where she is beginning to publish her first scientific articles. Carolina has developed expertise working on the Conservation program and “Jaguar Management "Panthera onca "and their prey" during the last four years.

Eduardo Carrillo Jiménez, PhD.

He started his training as a Forest Engineer and subsequently he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management and later he got the M.Sc. in Wildlife Management and Conservation, from the National University of Costa Rica.

Afterward, he undertook postgraduate studies in the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA, where he graduated as Doctorate in Wildlife Management and Conservation. He has participated in Wildlife Management and Conservation projects since 1985. He worked as technical adviser for the   International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Wildlife program, monitoring field projects in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

He was the Head of the Protected Areas Management Department, at the   Tropical Agronomy Center for Research and Education (CATIE-Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza) for three years. He also   served as field project manager for Mesoamerica in the Jaguar Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society until 2005. Currently, he is a professor and researcher at the International Institute for Wildlife conservation and management (ICOMVIS- Instituto Internacional en Conservación y Manejo de Vida Silvestre) and the Environmental Sciences School, both at the National University. Doctor Carrillo has published more than 50 scientific and popular articles and he is the author of four books and chapters in edited books.  He currently directs the Conservation Program Research projects and the “Jaguars (Panthera onca) management and their prey” project in Costa Rica, in the Corcovado National Park; also at the Pacuare River forest reserve; Juan Castro Blanco National Park and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Private Reserve. He also directs the Jaguars, Puma and their preys in cattle farms Conservation Project.



BRENESIA 71-72: 69-70, 2009

Cabassous centralis Record  (Cingulata: Dasypodi dae) in the Pacuare Forest Reserve and Nairi Awari Indigenous Reserve, Siquirres, Costa Rica
Carolina Sáenz Bolaños & Eduardo Carrillo Jiménez
Institute of Wildlife Conservation and Management.
P.O. Box .1350. National University, Heredia, Costa Rica.,


The two species of armadillos present in Costa Rica are Cabassous centralis (naked-tailed armadillo) and the novemcinctus Dasypus (Nine-Banded Armadillo), both species are classified under the Dasypodidae family, however, with the new taxonomic classification, D. novemcinctus remained in the Dasypodidae subfamily, but C. centralis became the Tolypeutinae subfamily (Wilson & Reeder 2003).

C. centralis is a rare species in the national territory, in spite that its distribution ranges from Eastern Mexico to the Northeast of Colombia and Northwestern of Venezuela (Carrillo et al. 2002). In Costa Rica, Hall (1981) reported that this species is distributed throughout the country, and has subsequently been several reports of its presence in different locations: Monteverde Biological Reserve and the Guanacaste province (Wilson 1983). Braulio Carrillo National Park and La Selva Biological Station (Timm et al. 1989), Manuel Antonio National Park (Carrillo & Wong 1992), Monteverde and La Selva (Rodriguez & Chinchilla 1996), reinforcing the Wilson and Timm data. However, information on the distribution of this species in Costa Rica is still quite low.

Since January 20, 2009, we have worked with 16 and 18 trap cameras for a first and second block sampling, in the Pacuare Forest Reserve and the Nairi Awari Indigenous Reserve, Siquirres, Costa Rica. After 779 trap nights, with a capture rate of 2.56,  we have managed to record the presence of C. centralis in areas of the Barbilla National Park on April, 2009, in the forest reserve (10 ° 00 ' 06 N and 83 ° 44 ' 08 W) and the indigenous reserve (10 ° 02 ' 14 N and 83 ° 50 ' 47 W). This report is a new record for the area, extending the distribution scope of C. centralis in the Southern Caribbean of Costa Rica; and also it shows very low abundance of this species, therefore it is considered a rare species.

This new finding is of great importance to the conservation of the species, as it was noted in this area of the Southern Caribbean. C. centralis prefers areas with mature forest coverage; that is the reason why in the future this data should be taken into account when granting permissions for wood exploitation or constructions, if really we want to preserve the species and all what it implies.



Our gratefulness to all those who supported this work, especially to Natural Adventures, they   offered me the necessary equipment and the logistics support; also to the landowners where I placed my cameras. Also to all who accompanied me during the long field walks and the Barbilla Station Rangers for their contribution to logistics.


Carrillo, E. & G. Wong. 1992. Registro y medidas de un Cabassous centralis (Edentata: Dasypodidae) en el Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, Quepos, Costa Rica. Brenesia 38:153-154.
Carrillo, E., G. Wong, & J. Sáenz. 2002. Mamíferos de Costa Rica. 2 ed. Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad, Santo Domingo, Heredia, Costa Rica. 249 pp.
Gardner, A. L. 2003. Order Cingulata. In: Don E. Wilson & DeeAnn M. Reeder (eds.). Mammals Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London. pp .94-99.
Hall. R. 1981. The mammals of North America. Vol. II John Wiley & Sons, New York. pp. 966-974.
Rodríguez. F. J & F. Chinchilla. 1996. Lista de mamíferos de Costa Rica. Rev. Biol. Trop. 44

(2): 877-890.
Tim, R., D. Wilson, B. Clauson, R. LaVal &C. Vaughan. 1989. Mammals of the La Selva Braulio Carrillo complex, Costa Rica. U.S Deparmet of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service, Washingtong D.C. 162 pp.
Wilson, D.E. 1983. Checklist of mammals. In: Janzen. D. H. (ed.). Costa Rican Natural History. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago. P.443-447.


BRENESIA 71-72, 2009


(2): 877-890.
Tim, R., D. Wilson, B. Clauson, R. LaVal &C. Vaughan. 1989. Mammals of the La Selva Braulio Carrillo complex, Costa Rica. U.S Deparmet of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service, Washingtong D.C. 162 pp.
Wilson, D.E. 1983. Checklist of mammals. In: Janzen. D. H. (ed.). Costa Rican Natural History. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago. P.443-447.