Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day #14: The Green Wall, Mud and Jaguar Tracks!

Climbing the Green Wall...

Up the Green Wall...
At the top of the Green Wall...

Part of our group at the top of the Green Wall...Eugenio (our guide) is to the very right. Ian is just behind him.

On the third day, the winds had died down enough to continue to the Continental Divide. We must ascend from 7200 feet to 9800 feet. The hardest part going up the very sheer "Green Wall". This is a 500 plus foot vertical ascent consisting of climbing through mud and lifting yourself by oomping yourself up with roots or trees that hang out of the Green Wall.

The amazing part is the 1200 year old Oaks that hang onto the side of the ascent. I have never seen such huge Oaks!

But the best part was when we got to the top of the Green Wall: There were Jaguar tracks everywhere. And they are huge. My hand easily fit inside one the tracks.

Eugenio told me that the latest census indicates that there are less than 200 Jaguar left in Costa Rica. And we were climbing where the Jaguar census is the most abundant. Jaguar eat the Tapir (a relative of the Hippo) that scramble along this part of the Rain Forest. We also saw plenty of Tapir tracks.

Despite Costa Rica's valiant conservation efforts, the Jaguar are probably doomed through out most of Latin America. We might continue to have a small population that lives in the Amazon. The Jaguar north of there require large amounts of land. Rain Forest. The vast amount of territory they require means that breeding populations get separated by development. The result? The genetic pool dries up.

There are plans to make a Jaguar Corridor that extends from Panama to Mexico. If this ever comes to fruition, it will probably be too late.

Or as Eugenio puts it: "I think we are going to lose the Jaguar in the next twenty years".

We set up Camp Two at 9,800 feet.

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