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[Animals] Pardo's story: the ocelot who suffered a car accident and speaks for his species in Costa Rica


Wassim

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Like other animals in the Costa Rican jungle, Pardo the ocelot was in a car accident. This is how the local community responded to help him.
On the roads of Costa Rica, animals travel just like cars. Completely unprotected by the public infrastructure that invades their territory, especially where the main road from Nicaragua to Panama converges with an important biological corridor, they become victims of urban advance on protected natural areas. It was there that Pardo, the ocelot, received a severe accident.

In April 2022, an emergency call was received at the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary veterinary clinic, where an ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) had been seriously injured by a vehicle, abandoned in the middle of the road. The team followed the rescue protocols to receive it: they named it "Pardo", and they prepared the ocelot for its rehabilitation, since it had a serious head injury.

 

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The rescue center has a special enclosure, totally isolated in the jungle, separated from humans so as not to establish abnormal connections. The juvenile ocelot entered at an early age of six months; orphaned and injured, various tests had to be complied with to determine the natural health and corresponding behaviors of a predator in order to decree its release into the wild.

That's why he had to be under supervision for almost a year. A team effort has been made in complete union: from the veterinarian with the medical tests, the animal caretaker with the behavior protocols, to the supervisor with the coordination of the entire program.

Nearly 2 thousand rescued animals

 

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Despite the fact that almost 2,000 animals have been rescued since it opened in 2014, the percentage that has been able to be monitored has been minimal, since the monitoring equipment and tracking tools are highly expensive. Being a non-governmental organization, funds are not guaranteed and the center is highly dependent on donations to continue research for long-term projects.

Cristina Azzopardi is a specialist in environmental sciences and biodiversity conservation. As the person in charge of managing operations at Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary, she emphasizes the urgency of monitoring species affected by human conflict:

"IN THE FIRST INSTANCE, IT GIVES US NEW PERSPECTIVES ON THEIR BEHAVIOR: WHAT THEY ARE DOING, WHERE THEY ARE MOVING, WHAT THEY ARE AVOIDING... WE CAN EFFECTIVELY PROTECT THEIR ENVIRONMENT, ATTACK LEGISLATION AND TRY TO IMPROVE CERTAIN ASPECTS", EXPLAINS THE SPECIALIST IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC IN SPANISH.

 

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Threatened animals that enter the facilities of the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary, in southern Costa Rica, generally arrive badly injured. Specifically in the tourist area of Bahía Ballena, the main causes are:

Run over (37%)
Electrocutions (8%)
Orphaned animals (12%)
Attacks by pets (11%)
Confiscations (17%)
Others (15%)
When establishing an evaluation overview with all the different scenarios, it is essential to determine the critical points and causes where the largest number of injured animals are found.

'Pardo', the ocelot: symbol of rehabilitation and hope for wild cats
In order to ensure the safety and fullness of Pedro Pardo, the help of different organizations was needed. One of them being Osa Conservation, which focuses its projects on research and conservation of endangered species such as the protection of sea turtle nests, monitoring of king vultures and tapirs.

Both organizations pooled their knowledge and experiences to achieve deeper, broader and more efficient results, as well as investigate the most appropriate and safe area for their release. These cats need tracts of land from 2 to 43 square kilometers, far from civilization and roads to avoid conflicts with human beings.

 

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Being the first time that a rehabilitated wild cat, previously close to death, has been tracked, Pedro Pardo means a world of opportunities for future research on its behavior, distribution ranges and the discovery of its unique role in the jungle ecosystem. From his tracking, information was collected through the GPS collar, connected to a location program to process essential information.

“MONITORING THE OCELOT IS A PILOT CASE, BECAUSE IT IS THE FIRST TIME WE HAVE MONITORED AN ANIMAL WITH GPS. BY HAVING EVERYTHING ON RECORD, WE WILL BE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE THAT INFORMATION WITH OTHER ORGANIZATIONS SO THEY MAY HAVE THE TOOLS TO CONTINUE WITH THESE PROTOCOLS. IN THE END, WE ALL HAVE THE SAME PURPOSE: TO PROTECT WILDLIFE,” EXPLAINS THE SPECIALIST IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC IN SPANISH.

4 keys to restore endangered species

 

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According to the WWF 2022 “Living Planet” nature report, there has been a 69% decline in po[CENSORED]tions of species – mammals, reptiles, birds, fish and amphibians – in animal trends monitored since 1970. Different types of conservation efforts are needed to halt the continued loss of biodiversity. In the same study, the researchers emphasize observing them with different technologies (radio tracking, camera traps, GPS collars) to devise solutions to the complex problems they encounter.

Not all animal releases are success stories, until results of their survival are obtained, even if they have received the necessary medical treatment and rehabilitation. Based on the information collected with these tracking techniques, the Osa Conservation team of scientists has been able to calculate with more precision the indicators of success on survival and different perspectives on the incorporation back into the wild, depending on the species.

 

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Generally, success is measured by the following parameters:

Feeding
Reintegration into his herd or group, being a social animal
   reproduction in the wild
Caring for the young until they reach adulthood
From a rehabilitative point of view, the affirmation of progress or possible complications is necessary to conclude that the efforts have been worthwhile. In this way, rehabilitation protocols and future releases can be complemented and adapted to continue conserving different species.

“THE KEY IS IN COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND EDUCATION. PEOPLE ARE INTRIGUED AND INVOLVED WITH LEARNING THE IMPORTANCE OF CONSERVATION; ESPECIALLY BECAUSE THESE UNFORTUNATE SITUATIONS CAN BE PREVENTED FROM THE START”, CONCLUDES AZZOPARDI.

Alessandra de Zaldo is a Mexican photographer based in Budapest. She studied at the Active School of Photography. She was an intern at Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary for over a year, and there she confirmed her passion for the conservation of endangered species. She is now a regular contributor to National Geographic en Español.

 

https://www.ngenespanol.com/animales/pardo-el-ocelote-que-habla-por-su-especie/

 

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