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WHERE WE WORK Dear Friends,


Springtime is a time of renewal for many, and the dry tropical forest


of Central America is no exception. During March and April, the annual seasonal drought is at its peak intensity. Nicaraguan farmers use this time to prepare their fields, burning brush and plowing. Wildlife care for their young, relying on fat stores, and wait for the onset of rains in early May. The grayish and leafless dry tropical forest sits dormant. When the rains do arrive, the forest turns a fresh green and wildlife come to feed on the new buds. Farmers move quickly to plant their crops. At this time, Paso PacĂ­fico must

The Paso del Istmo Biological Corridor (Passage of the Isthmus) is a magical landscape that includes rich tropical forests, freshwater lakes, Pacific coastline and marine areas, and traditional Nicaraguan farmland. This corridor serves as a model for partnering with communities and is the foundation of our long-term vision to connect habitat northward across Central America. Located along the 15-mile-wide isthmus between Lake Nicaragua and the Pacific Ocean, this narrow passageway has historically served as a land bridge for wildlife migrating between North and South America. Today, the Paso del Istmo hosts extraordinary biological diversity with a range of habitats that include endangered dry tropical forests and freshwater wetlands, and which host important species such as the endangered Black-handed Spider Monkey and the Yellow-naped Amazon Parrot. Cover: Miguel OrdeĂąana, the wildlife biologist helping coordinate our jaguar conservation effort, sets a camera trap in hopes of catching a glimpse of resident wildlife.

also move quickly to plant the thousands of native trees we have raised from seed, and to watch the movements of wildlife through our remote cameras and radio-tracking. We hope to share more about what we are learning from this monitoring in our next newsletter. In the meantime, enjoy this, our quarterly newsletter. Thanks for your support and friendship. Warm Regards,

Sarah M. Otterstrom, Ph.D. Founder & Executive Director

F RO M T H E F I E L D There’s never a dull moment in the Paso del Istmo, and so far 2014 has been no exception. Shortly after the new year, we were ecstatic to learn that one of our camera traps had captured images of a jaguar in the lowland dry tropical forest. Since that video, we have found more evidence of jaguars in the isthmus, Kim Williams-Guillén, Ph.D. including photos, videos and tracks. Director of Conservation Science The camera traps that recorded the Paso Pacífico first jaguar – and all kinds of other Kim is a conservation scientist whose main wildlife, such as ocelots, agoutis, interests involve the role of agricultural and and even the occasional sloth and human-managed lands in tropical mam- monkey – are a key tool in our mal conservation. She coordinates Paso wildlife-monitoring program. But this Pacífico’s long-term biodiversity monitoring year’s jaguar sightings were especially programs and the application of conser- important and were even featured vation science for target species such as in Nicaraguan newspapers. Why is jaguars and spider monkeys. this discovery so important? Well, jaguars have been extinct in the dry forests of Nicaragua’s Pacific coast for decades. We believe that jaguars may be moving into our area from Costa Rica, signalling the first steps of repopulating dry forests all along the western shores of Central America. Restoring jaguar populations in the Paso del Istmo is a matter of critical importance, since these cats are top predators in neotropical forests. When jaguars disappear, it has effects on all of the herbivorous animals that they feed on, and changes in their populations can then influence the

very structure and regeneration of the forest. Losing jaguars causes a ripple effect throughout the entire ecosystem. Documenting a jaguar in this region has added even more urgency to our mission to conserve and restore the tropical dry forests of the Paso del Istmo, helping us envision the day when photographing jaguars – or their prey animals, like peccaries and white-tailed deer – is a regular occurrence. As a result of our discovery, we have expanded our jaguar conservation program over the last several months. The discovery of the jaguar has coincided with an increase in reports of predator attacks on livestock; these events put jaguars and other predators at risk since angry ranchers often respond by attempting to shoot the animal. We therefore established a compensation program to help offset the financial loss to local farmers who have lost domestic animals to jaguar predation: farmers receive a payment for livestock killed, as well as for verified reports of jaguar prints and signs. To complement this program (and to eventually make it unnecessary) we are also working with farmers to learn about and improve livestock management practices so that they can avoid putting their animals at risk in the first place. Landowners

In one of our community workshops, Tortuga residents help Paso Pacífico Rangers map the local area. Collaborating with community members and utilizing their local knowledge help us better understand the finer details of the Paso del Istmo and how we can protect it.

also participate in regular workshops to learn about jaguars and their importance to the forest so that they will start to view carnivores in a more positive light. Of course, we always complement conservation action with high-quality research. I have been working closely with LA-based carnivore biologist Miguel Ordeñana to increase the number of camera traps we have deployed (currently 32) so that we can determine not just the status of the jaguars, but of the herbivorous animals they eat. Our Junior Rangers are also assisting us in these monitoring efforts, setting up their very own camera traps. Through our education programs our Junior Rangers are learning how to recognize jaguar tracks and the importance of jaguars in the food chain. The Junior Rangers have not yet photographed a jaguar with their camera traps, but they have captured

Paso Pacífico Junior Rangers set a camera trap in the forest near their community in hopes of documenting local wildlife. Through our education programs these kids are also learning the importance of conserving the entire dry forest ecosystem.

some grey fox and a few other smaller predators. By learning about these wildlife monitoring techniques, and the animals they hope to record, these children are learning about biodiversity, ecology, and the importance of being good stewards of the land. We owe a big thanks to a number of organizations and individuals who have made our jaguar education and research programs possible, including the Woodland Park Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Man and Nature Foundation, the USFS - Institute for International Tropical Forestry, and local landowner Kevin Shea. This summer we will be capturing and tagging a jaguar to monitor its movements, so tune into our social media pages and future newsletters to trace the path of this jaguar along with us!

“If happiness consists in the number of pleasing emotions that occupy our mind, how tr ue is it that the contemplation of nature , which always gives r ise to these emotions, is one of the great sources of happiness.'' - Thomas Bell The Natur alist in Nicar agua, 1 8 7 4


“ TA C O TA L ” The weedy plant growth that follows two to three years after agriculture abandonment. This growth is a precursor to secondary forests and is a desirable step in the return of the forest. Tacotal is the most common type of plant community in the Paso del Istmo, highlighting the opportunity for restoration.

D O N O R S P OT L I G H T SANDRA PEARSON When Paso Pacífico was first formed, we realized we needed a special leader with expert knowledge in organizational management and who also had the patience for a grassroots start-up. Sandra Pearson was the perfect person for this role. Not only did she have great experience in board leadership, but she was passionate about wildlife conservation and had a real concern for people, especially women. Sandra agreed to serve as Board President and worked for two terms helping Sarah Otterstrom, our Executive Director, to move the organization towards its mission. As President, Sandra led us through important milestones and achievements. She helped see Paso Pacífico through its first large-scale reforestation project, funded through the sale of carbon credits and validated at the Gold Level under the CCB Standard. She was present when we tagged our first sea turtle with a satellite transmitter. She helped get our non-profit structure in place and advised us as we moved from a volunteer start-up to an organization with more than thirty employees. We would not be where we are today without her guidance. Sandra continues to advise Paso Pacífico and works to share our mission with donors and friends. We will always be grateful to our founding Board President. Sandra’s grandmother was born in Nicaragua as the daughter of a prominent biologist and natural historian, Miguel Ramírez Goyena. When Sandra visited Nicaragua for the first time, she paid a visit to the high school named for her great-grandfather and consulted with the national archives to learn of his important contributions to Nicaragua. Each year Sandra makes a generous donation to the organization in honor of her Nana and her Nicaraguan family. We are grateful and proud to receive these gifts and to honor the legacy of Miguel Ramírez Goyena.

Paso Pacífico Sea Turtle Ranger Daniel Sánchez explains the life cycle of mangrove trees near the community of Ostional.

H I G H L I G H T S F RO M T H I S Q UA RT E R · At the beginning of the year, our camera trap footage revealed a jaguar 500 meters from the Pacific Ocean in an area that is highly populated with many small farms. Until then, jaguars were thought to be extinct in dry forests along Central America’s Pacific coast. We are continuing to monitor jaguar populations to better understand their habitat needs, and we have initiated a compensation and education program to protect jaguars from being killed by farmers whose livestock is threatened by these large predators.

· In February, we launched a crowd-funding campaign to support our Binoculars for Slingshots program, an exchange replacing the slingshots children use to shoot birds with their own pair of binoculars. Our goal was to raise enough to purchase 100 pairs of binoculars and the shipping costs to Nicaragua. The campaign ended April 12th and we raised $8,556, thanks to you! The binoculars will be heading out to the kids over the next couple of months.

· In January, we built a new sea turtle nursery at El Coco beach to protect sea turtle eggs from being stolen by poachers. This is our second sea turtle nursery, both of which are operated completely by women.

· Over the last three months we have been monitoring bat populations at Masaya Volcano. We are capturing bats and attaching radio telemetry transmitters to them in order to determine the local colony size and its impact on insect pests.

· We enrolled 100 new children in our Junior Ranger program at the beginning of the year, bringing the total number of participants in the program to 200 children from five different communities.

· In February, we affixed aluminum tags to sea turtle flippers to help us identify which local beaches solitary nesters visit so we can better prepare our efforts to protect nesting turtles and their hatchlings.

· It is nesting season for the endangered Yellow-naped Amazon parrot, and our Forest Rangers have begun monitoring nests and supporting our incentive program to deter poachers from stealing and selling parrots on the black market.

· We recruited the help of an intern to begin working with local community members to pilot methods for improved native stingless bee honey production. He is collecting baseline information on bee diversity in the area and investigating the pollen resources that the bees rely on.

Paso PacĂ­fico Junior Rangers pause to pose with Mickey Mouse during one of their field trips to observe spider monkeys in their natural habitat.

WHO FUNDS OUR P RO J E C T S ? Our Black-handed Spider Monkey Conservation Program is made possible through support from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and the Prince Bernhard Nature Fund. We have recently expanded our spider monkey monitoring program to include tree phenology in order to better understand spider monkey diet. We have also begun to study important grouping behaviors within the troops. Primatologist Dr. Stephanie Spehar from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and Mickey Mouse visited the Paso del Istmo this past February to help train the Rangers in new monitoring methods. We are grateful for our partners in conservation.

D ID Y OU K NOW? T h e B l a c k - h a n d e d S p i d e r M o n key i s . . .

1. ...the third most intelligent non-human primate behind orangutans and chimpanzees and just ahead of gorillas and all other monkeys.

2. ...critically endangered in Central America due to habitat loss, hunting, and illegal trading.

3. of Paso Pacifico’s flagship species used to promote local pride in wildlife and conservation.

USA P. O. Box 1244 • Ventura, CA 93002-1244 Phone: 805-643-7044 Email: Web:

N ICARAGUA Carretera a Masaya Km 12.4 Residencial Villas del Prado, Casa No. 7 Managua, Nicaragua Phone: +505-2279-8423

Follow Us On Social Media:

F E AT U R E D S TA F F This month our list includes the names of the community Forest Rangers who play a vital role in collecting wildlife monitoring data for species including the Black-handed Monkey and the jaguar.

Board of Directors Lotte Roache, President Retired non-profit professional Santa Barbara, California Gian Marco Palazio, Secretary President, Café Las Flores Managua ,Nicaragua George Gorman, Treasurer Progressive Assets Management Berkeley, California Juan Marco Alvarez Executive Director, Business Council for Sustainable Development San Salvador, El Salvador Sean Carney President, Finite Carbon Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Frank Joyce Director and Instructor, EAP Costa Rica: Tropical Biology and Conservation, Monteverde Institute Monteverde, Costa Rica Diana Pritchard Anthropologist, University of Sussex Bedford, England Christine Schmidt Assistant Dean of Advancement, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, University of California Davis, California

Paso Pacífico Forest Rangers Miguel Angel Meléndez José Francisco Vanegas José Felipe García Felix Antonio Lara Martínez Hector Luís Espinoza Carlos José Chávez Efraín Mercado Cristian Bonilla Juan Carlos Pavón Claudia Perla Marvin Chévez Liza González Country Director Kalinga Rodríguez Ranger Supervisor

Newsletter - Spring 2014  
Newsletter - Spring 2014