Conservación Panamá Fights to Save Wild Cats

There is no question that one of Panama’s greatest allures is it's wildlife. The   landscape is lush, boasting rainforests, dry forests and cloud forests, each ripe with biodiversity. These unique environments are home to hundreds of species, some of which are only found in Panama. As the country develops, these habitats and the wildlife that thrives within begin to disappear.  From large mammals, like ocelots and jaguars, to tiny amphibians, each species, equally important in preserving the country’s biodiversity, faces a list of obstacles. One NGO, Conservación Panamá Inc., is working with locals to conserve a variety of species. Among these species are large wild cats.

Conservación Panamá's mission is to preserve wildlife by educating and engaging local urban, suburban and rural communities on the management of natural resources.

Conservación Panamá was started by Melva Olmos, a highly educated animal lover from the province Chiriqui and her husband, Ezekiel Jakub, an Ornithologist from the U.S. Melva acts as the President and Director of Mammalogy for Conservación Panamá, and is a wealth of knowledge when it comes large mammals such as jaguars. We asked her about some of the problems wild cats are facing in Panama, and how Conservación Panamá is working to resolve them. Melva explained:     

“Currently in Panama, there are many wildcat-human conflicts, which occur on a regular basis, especially in areas close to National parks, conservation areas, and within the Comarca´s (indigenous communities).

Often the result of these conflicts is a killing event of a jaguar or other wildcat. Most often these conflicts can be quickly and expediently solved without including lethal force. Conservación Panamá and their Mammalogy program is proposing to develop train and put into affect a “Wildcat conflict rapid response team”. This team would have a principle goal of traveling to a conflict zone, educating and training the local communities how to resolve wildcat conflicts without lethal force. Furthermore, they would work towards creating an appreciation for the conservation of wildcats in Panama.”

Melva is a determined woman with a clear passion for wild cats and Panama. She holds a Degree in biology, a Masters Degree with focus on Jaguar Conservation, and has years of experience researching mammals on Barro Colorado Island with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Today Melva puts her hard earned knowledge and experience to use, running Conservación Panamá, working along side PANTHERA CORP, an international wildcat conservation organization based in the United Sates.

Want to learn more about Melva, jaguars in Panama, and the proposed “rapid response team” for wildcat conflicts? Join Melva and Ezekiel on Tuesday, March 31 at 5:00 p.m. at special PlayaCommunity X Teca Happy Hour! Melva will be giving a presentation on Conservación Panamá and the purposed program that will help stop wildcats from being unnecessarily killed throughout Panama.

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