I have been lucky to get Omer of Of Cats to write a brilliant article post about the wild cats of Costa Rica:
My name is Omer and I blog about cats, their care and conservation at Ofcats.com. It has been a pleasure to write something about which I’m really passionate, and in the process interact with some wonderful fellow bloggers from across the globe. One of them is Marina who hails from Costa Rica and has very kindly offered to host a guest post from me at her excellent blog The Travel Expert(A). I’m going to make use of this opportunity by writing a few words about some of the wild cats that reside in Costa Rica…
Find more wildlife spottings in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica, as we all know, is a country in Central America. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean sea on either sides and has nearly eight hundred miles of coastline. Despite its small geographic size, Costa Rica is a world leader on several fronts. For example, it was the first country in the world to abolish its army. It has been spearheading the way in Americas in terms of Human Development and Environmental Performance, indices that don’t always go along in developing nations. A pioneer in ecotourism, Costa Rica is a fine example for nations that wish to carry their economic progress hand in hand with their environment’s sanctity. By placing nearly a quarter of its territory under a Protected Areas system, Costa Rica is doing just that. And its efforts have borne fruit. Today this small Latin American country is considered to be the greenest in the world. And it possesses the highest density of species found anywhere across the globe.
Naturally, the preservation of habitat means that there is a good biodiversity of predator and prey animals across Costa Rica’s forests. These include no less than six distinct wild cat species, that reside there today. Let’s take a brief look at each of these six wild cats in turn, starting with the largest..
Jaguar, the top land predator in South and Central America, is the third largest big cat overall. Pound for pound it is amongst the strongest, possessing the most powerful jaws in family felidae. A versatile predator, the jaguar is adept at both land and water, taking down a variety of prey animals including peccaries, caiman, deer, foxes and even turtles. A beautiful spotted cat it has been persecuted in the past, alongside Costa Rica’s other wild cats, for its coat. Fortunately it is now protected and resides in select locations across the country including the national parks Santa Rosa, Corcovado and Tortuguero.
Next is the Cougar, again one of America’s apex predators that is perhaps the most ubiquitous large predator across the Western Hemisphere. A muscular and athletic animal, the cougar is an ambush predator. It stalks its prey patiently before attacking with full momentum, generally reaching its prey within a couple of bounds. Like the jaguar it hunts a variety of animals, and like its larger cousin, the puma is faring better owing to better protection of its habitat and prey animals.
Next is the Jaguarundi, an otter-like feline that, like the cougar, has a uniform coat. Another versatile cat, the jaguarundi hunts fish, mammals and even birds. Principal threats to this unique cat are loss of habitat and prey since its fur is fortunately not in great demand.
The next three are the beautiful spotted cats of South and Central America – the Ocelot, Margay and Oncilla. Ocelot is the largest, and perhaps the prettiest. With a beautiful tawny coat patterned by rosettes it is gifted with a great natural camouflage. Still the ocelot is a nocturnal predator, making use of its great vision and sense of smell to hunt.
Quite similar in appearance and behavior to the ocelot, is the Margay. A nocturnal and territoreal animal the Margay essentially follows the same hunting patterns as its larger relative, the Ocelot, except for one significant feature that makes margay unique amongst all cats. For margay is the best tree climber amidst all felines, a feat made possible by its flexible ankle joints that allow movement of 180 degrees around the axis, giving the margay nearly ape-like arboreal skills. Like the ocelot it mainly hunts small animals including lizards, frogs and even small monkeys on trees!
Last amongst the wild cats of Costa Rica is the smallest, the Oncilla or Tiger Cat. Also known as the Little Spotted Cat, oncilla is roughly the same size as the domestic cat. A nocturnal and terrestrial predator, the oncilla is also a good tree climber and efficient bird hunter. Other prey animals include rodents and small reptiles.
These are the six wild cats currently documented in Costa Rica. All are masterful predators within their domain, playing their part in maintaining the delicate ecosystem of this beautiful country. With better protection and increased awareness, today they are doing better than in the past. However, it is important to continue to protect them and their habitat, as well as spread the message of conservation in the upcoming generations to preserve these beautiful felines, Costa Rica’s national treasures and ambassadors!
Ox Carts, Carretas, are the true Costa Rica traditions. Many people come to Sarchi to see them made at the oldest Ox Cart Factory. Plus, they are the hot item to buy to take home with them as a souvenir. You can get it pint sized or the real deal. If that’s what you came for, the stores have it all worked out for you to ship the cart home, minus the Ox!
Find more traditional Costa Rica cultural events.
Since I live here, I get to experience it they way it should be. Luckily, my next door neighbors are a family of farmers for generations. They still milk their cows daily and transport them from one side of the road to the other for grass nibbling. Plus, they believe in maintaining tradition, when so many others have ‘modernized’ themselves.
Fillo, my neighbor, is the proud owner of a two gorgeous hunks of Ox and a typical Ox Cart that he bought 40 years ago for $5,000. His daily usage for the cart, that stops traffic coming up and down my street, is collecting grass and hay for his cattle. However, he also loves kids!
For my son’s birthday, I asked him to take the kids on an Ox Cart ride. It was the time of our lives! I don’t know who was more giddy, the adults who watched and took turns maneuvering the ox, or the kids sitting pretty in the back. Either way, before my time in Costa Rica comes to a quick end, I’m sooooooo happy to have had this experience.
For more great Photo Friday friends go to Delicious Baby.
I just had a very surprising and wonderful announcement from Chris Rutherford at Tripbase.com!
I was one of the Finalists for best Blog for Central America. You have to check it out, because I’m up there with some of my absolute favorite bloggers!
Basically, an empanada is a stuffed tortilla. You can stuff it with any ingredients. The most basic is with cheese but scroll down for some other fun ideas. Also, these snacks are great fillers, and can be added to your kids lunch for a little variety!
Get more options for delicious Costa Rica Traditional food.
2 cups corn flour (Masa)
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
(or any kind of cheese that melts well)
salt to taste
2 plastic sheets
Small frying pan
Cook It Up!
In a bowl mix up the corn flour with the salt. Next form small balls and place them in between the two plastic sheets. Take the frying pan and squeeze down so that the ball turns into a thin pancake (tortilla). Now put the cheese in the center, fold it and seal it with your fingers. Last step, fry it up. Place the tortilla in the frying pan with oil and fry until golden on both sides.
Serve It Up!
You can serve these great treats with sour cream, tomato salsa, guacamole or just plain. They taste best when warm.
Add a Pinch of Imagination and a Sprinkle of Creativity! (variations)
This is where the fun begins. Why not throw in some herbs and spices for flavor. And how about a little bit of meat and veggies too. You can make the tortillas any size, so have fun. You can come up with a Latino style calzone with many different ingredients all cooked up together.
Note: If you’re cooking with meat, make sure the meat is cooked before folding it up inside the uncooked tortilla. It will not cook enough in the frying pan.