July 4th may be Independence Day in the United States, but in Costa Rica it is National Wild Cats’ Day (Día Nacional del Felino Silvestre). That is right, as of July 2013 Costa Rica has an official holiday dedicated to recognizing the important roles wild felines play in maintaining their respective ecosystems.
The Program for People and Wildlife (El Programa Gente y Fauna), part of the Guanacasteca Fellowship Association (Asociación Confraternidad Guanacasteca), is organizing parties (fiestas) in six rural communities to commemorate this day. But “party” may be the wrong translation, because these fiestas will serve a crucial purpose.
The six communities that the Programa Gente y Fauna wants to celebrate with are vitally important, as they share space with pumas (Puma concolor) and jaguars (Panthera onca). While these are both magnificent animals, attacks on livestock do cause problems for their human neighbors. The Programa Gente y Fauna is launching a pilot program towards the end of this year that would help offset the financial costs of living alongside these incredible cats. The fiestas planned for National Wild Cats’ Day will help to maintain support for this program and strengthen ties with these six communities. This is critical, because healthy relationships are a necessary part of successful conservation.
The Programa Gente y Fauna, headed by Dr. Ronit Amit, is seeking donations to help fund these celebrations. All the money raised will go towards the fiestas, and no amount is too small. In order to help, please visit this link and click on the “Donate Now” button on the right.
I hope you will consider making a donation to this cause, as Costa Rica is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and threatened natural landscapes. Protecting large carnivores like jaguars and pumas is an important part of maintaining these ecosystems, but it cannot be done without the support of local people. Your contributions will help keep the aforementioned communities excited about upcoming conservation initiatives.
To learn more about the Programa Gente y Fauna, please visit their Facebook page.
For more information about Dr. Ronit Amit, and to view many of her publications, check out her Academia.edu profile.