Finding and Saving Nicaragua’s Last Population of Jaguars
The jaguar is a keystone species in the forests of western Nicaragua
The forests of Nicaragua's Paso del Istmo
The Paso del Istmo Biological Corridor
Freshwater streams like this one are "hotspots" of animal activity
An image of a jaguar captured by a camera trap in the Paso del Istmo
Miguel Ordeñana is a Nicaraguan-American wildlife biologist who will lead our jaguar project.
An ocelot image we captured from a camera trap
Give $250 or more and get a plaster cast of a *real* cat print, like this puma print!
Kim Williams-Guillén with two of Paso Pacífico's community-based forest rangers
About the project

Jaguars are among the most charismatic and important large carnivores in Latin America. However, they have lost much of their range to human activities like logging and ranching, which destroy their habitat and reduce their populations. Additionally, they are subject to hunting and persecution by people trying to protect their cattle and domestic animals. One area where jaguars have been all but eliminated is southwestern Nicaragua. Since 2005, Paso Pacífico has been working to establish the “Paso del Istmo” biological corridor in southwestern Nicaragua, to support conservation of a variety of flora and fauna in this highly fragmented and deforested landscape. Despite the lack of habitat protection, the Paso del Istmo retains the last populations of jaguars, monkeys, parrots, and other wildlife remaining in western Nicaragua. Due to deforestation further north, for many tropical animals the Paso del Istmo represents their northernmost extent in western Central America. By helping us to conserve jaguars and other wildlife in this region, you are contributing to saving and restoring one of the last footholds that many endangered animals have in western Nicaragua. Research questions being asked: Where do populations of jaguars persist in southwestern Nicaragua? How do they manage to survive in a heavily populated landscape dominated by ranching? What role does western Nicaragua’s jaguar population play in the conservation of this species? How can we protect this vulnerable population of jaguars?

What you need to know

Jaguars once roamed throughout the forests of Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast; however, due to deforestation, the only remaining population of jaguars in this region is found in the Paso del Istmo biological corridor. We have found evidence of jaguars, but to protect this last remaining population, we need to find out how many there are, where they roam, and what the most immediate threats to their survival are.

Why this matters

Jaguar populations all over the world are shrinking – habitat destruction, persecution, and loss of their prey all threaten these amazing creatures. If jaguar populations are to survive in the long term, then we have to do more than protect those animals fortunate to live in remote reserves; we have to also conserve jaguars throughout their range, in order to maintain gene flow and connectivity between populations. By saving the last population of jaguars in western Nicaragua, we contribute to the long-term survival of the entire species.

What your money can do

With just a few thousand dollars, we will be able to purchase camera traps to help us monitor the jaguar population in southwestern Nicaragua. With these camera traps, we can determine how many individual jaguars are in an area (by identifying unique patterns of spots on their coats), determine their home ranges, and figure out what habitats and locations are most important for jaguars. $2500 will allow us to buy four pairs of camera traps, but additional funds will allow us to do more! Potential discoveries: With your help, we will be able discover how many jaguars persist in the Paso del Istmo biological corridor of Nicaragua. We expect that we will be able to make basic estimations of minimum jaguar population size, home range size, and determine the most critical threats to Nicaragua’s last population of jaguars on its Pacific coast.


This project will be carried out by the environmental non-profit Paso Pacífico. Our lead investigator on this project is Miguel Ordeñana. Miguel is a Nicaraguan American who grew up in Los Angeles, CA and developed a strong interest in wildlife from a young age. He received his BA in Environmental Studies from the University of Southern California and a Master of Science degree in Ecology from the University of California, Davis where he used camera trap data to examine the effects of urbanization on carnivores of southern California. Miguel has participated in a wide variety of projects involving diverse wildlife species of California, including forest raptors, desert tortoises, ground squirrels, urban carnivores, and bats. He is currently works for the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station studying bat activity pre- and post- wind turbine construction in the Mojave desert. Miguel is also one of the leaders of the Griffith Park Connectivity Study, monitoring medium- and large-bodied mammals with camera traps in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park. Collaborating with Miguel is Dr. Kim Williams-Guillén. Kim is Paso Pacífico’s Director of Conservation Science and has experience monitoring mammals at various locations throughout Nicaragua. She has studied the ecology of primates in shade coffee plantations, populations of large mammals subject to local hunting in Nicaragua’s Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, and the role of bats in controlling insect pests in coffee plantations.

Additional information:

Thursday December 06, 2012

Exciting news! We have found jaguars!! Please check out this blog post by Miguel to see the pictures:

Monday October 08, 2012

Hi All --

We have our first batch of photographs back from the cameras!  Although we didn't snap any jaguar pictures, we did manage to photograph some small cats (ocelots and jaguarundi), armadillos, agoutis, rabbits, and even some people!  You can read more about it -- and see the pictures! -- at Miguel's blog:

Tuesday September 25, 2012

Dear Project Backers: we have made significant progress on our jaguar project in the last month!  It came at the cost of blood (mosquitoes), sweat (trudging through swamps and mud), and tears (mostly as a result of our struggle with Nicaraguan customs to get the cameras into the country!) but our project is finally underway!  Miguel has posted a detailed update on his blog -- check it out, along with photos, at

Those of you waiting for your thank you gifts --- they will be along soon, including the casts of jaguar footprints that we were able to make during our recent trip!  Hooray!!!

Friday August 17, 2012
Backer only update
Tuesday May 22, 2012
Backer only update
Tuesday April 10, 2012

Here is some fun news to share -- Miguel Ordeñana, who will be leading the jaguar investigation, is part of a team that has discovered and collared a mountain lion in Griffith Park in Los Angeles!  Check out the following link for more information:

Tuesday April 03, 2012

Our project has reached its minimum funding goal! But DON'T LET THAT STOP YOU FROM DONATING AND SHARING THE PROJECT WITH YOUR FRIENDS!!! We still have over a month to raise funds, and with more camera traps, we will be able to sample a larger area in less time and be able to cover a larger area of southwestern Nicaragua! Our **NEW GOAL** is 30 camera traps total -- we have 16 so far, with money raised from this and other fundraisers. Having 30 cameras will allow us to completely and thoroughly cover the study area within a year. Otherwise, the project would take more than a year or would miss some portion of the study area.


Monday March 26, 2012

Exciting news -- I just did an interview with the G4 Network's "Attack of the Show" about our jaguar project! They will be featuring three projects next week. The segment is slated to air April 3rd -- I will announce the air date when we know for sure!

Thursday March 22, 2012

Wow -- 15% in just 2 days! Thank you so much, donors! We are deciding on a camera trap model within the next couple of weeks, and the discussions are all the more exciting knowing that we will be sharing our amazing photos and videos with so many of you!

Tuesday March 20, 2012

We're so excited to be a part of -- thanks to Matt and his team for bringing this brilliant idea to the world!

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This project was successful!
$5 +
I don’t need a gift – I just want to support your work to save jaguars!
$10 +
A personal thanks from project leaders Miguel Ordeñana and Kim Williams-Guillén and updates from the field.
$50 +
High quality 8x10 print of a jaguar, plus thanks from project leaders and updates from the field
$100 +
A bag of “corridor coffee” – eco-friendly, shade-grown coffee from Nicaragua, plus thanks from project leaders and updates from the field
$250 +
A plaster cast of a *real* wild felid print (jaguar, puma, or ocelot) from Nicaragua, plus thanks from project leaders and updates from the field
$500 +
Jaguar tote bag, *plus* all of the above (the tote bag is perfect for carrying around jaguar prints and coffee and pictures...)
$1,000 +
High quality framed photograph of jaguar, *plus* all of the above
and 28 others