DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL CENTRAL AMERICA

 
     
  Fauna- MAMMALS  

 

The full title should be 'Central American Mammals other than monkeys', which have their own page.  It has been a difficult time for most mammal species in this region.  Deforestation and habitat fragmentation has been widespread and is ongoing.  Even where there are laws against hunting threatened species, these are seldom enforced, except in the few areas heavily used by tourists.  Road kills and introduced animals such as dogs have also taken their toll.  Although the plight of endangered species is widely recognized, this is of little concern to most campesinos who are trying to make a living in remote areas.  The future of many creatures looks bleak.

 

The Jaguar (Panthera onca) is the apex predator in the Neotropics. It is the largest feline in the western hemisphere, and third largest in the world.  Rare, elusive and usually nocturnal, we must turn to a game park near Santa Cruz, Bolivia, for a photo. Click to see big picture (640x360 pixels; 109 KB)
Jaguars are still widespread, and referred to as Tigres.  Hunting and habitat loss, however, have greatly reduced their numbers.  Conflict with ranchers and farmers has been a major factor in the declining population.  Their range once extended into the United States, but they have long been killed off there. Click to see big picture (471x480 pixels; 126 KB)
About six percent of jaguars are black.  Although the term 'Black Panther' is widely used, it can also refer to a melanistic form of the african leopard. Click to see big picture (640x421 pixels; 117 KB)
A smaller spotted cat is Leopardus pardalis, the Ocelot.  It ranges from Mexico into South America, but is now most common in Central America where it is often called Manigordo.  Until recently it was filed under the Felis genus, along with domestic cats.  This is from the Summit Park (zoo) in Panama. Click to see big picture (640x406 pixels; 107 KB)
Baird's Tapir (Tapirus bairdii) is the largest land animal in Central America, where the terms Danta and Macho del Monte are commonly applied.  It can be told from other tapirs by it white face markings. Click to see big picture (602x480 pixels; 133 KB)
Although the range of the Tapirs is still large, extending through most of the tropical Americas, it is endangered by hunting and deforestation.  This one in eastern Bolivia would be T. terrestris. Click to see big picture (640x368 pixels; 137 KB)
A rare encounter with a Northern Tamandua in the San Blas Range of Panama.  Tamandua mexicana is a form of anteater, whose range is from Mexico to Colombia, but it is now endangered, largely due to hunting. Click to see big picture (554x480 pixels; 141 KB)
The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) has a sticky tongue which is thin, but can extend to 60 cm.  This allows it to rapidly depopulate ant and termite nests.  Although still found from Honduras to Argentina, it is now rare and vulnerable in the wild.  This one, however, is relatively safe in the Buenos Aires Zoo.  Local names include Hormiguero gigante and Oso Bandera. Click to see big picture (640x422 pixels; 138 KB)
The Collared Peccary, Pecari tajacu, ranges from the southern U.S. to southern South America.  It is not a pig, and cannot be domesticated, in fact it forms bands which can be dangerous to humans.  It is also known as Javalina, and in Central America as Chancho del Monte. Click to see big picture (639x480 pixels; 149 KB)
A family of Lesser Capybara (Hydrochoerus isthmius) head for the effluent pond at Gamboa Rainforest Lodge in Panama. This smaller version of the amazonian capybara is now recognized as a separate species.
Procyon cancrivorus is widely known as the Crab-eating Racoon, found from Costa Rica to Uruguay.  Here, in a mangrove swamp on the Pacific Coast of Panama's Darien Province, it is known as the Gato Manglar (mangrove cat), but it is clearly not a cat.
Crab-eating Racoons are at home in mangroves, but they are found in a wider range of habitats, and like most racoons, can eat a variety of foods.
Less easily photographed are the marine mammals, which inhabit the waters off both coasts of Central America.  Here dolphins sport in Dolphin Bay, northwestern Panama. Click to see big picture (640x378 pixels; 98 KB)
Off the pacific coast of Panama's Darien Province, they followed our boat for a while.  Likely the Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus).
The White Nosed Coati, Nasua narica, is intelligent and adaptable, sort of taking the place of raccoons in its range from Arizona to Ecuador.  Other names include Pizonte, Anton and Coatimundi. Click to see big picture (506x480 pixels; 140 KB)
Coatis seem to eat just about anything, and have adapted well to human habitations.  No eco-lodge should be without one. Click to see big picture (598x480 pixels; 121 KB)
In fact, they have become quite a pest in some areas, raiding gardens and garbage and getting into just about anything that is not well guarded. Click to see big picture (640x452 pixels; 70 KB)
Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni) inhabits trees from Nicaragua to Bolivia.  It is a placental mammal, whose local names include Oso Perezoso (lazy bear). Click to see big picture (360x480 pixels; 106 KB)
Three-toed Sloths are not closely related to the two-toed variety, although they seem to have adapted a similar lifestyle.  This would be Bradypus variegatus, to be found from Nicaragua to southeast Brazil, and this one in Tayrona Park in northern Colombia, seems to be ignoring humans. Click to see big picture (402x480 pixels; 100 KB)
The male Three-toed Sloth has a large scent gland on his back, clearly displayed by this fellow on Barro Colorado Island, Panama.
The Central American Agouti, Dasyprocta punctata has a range from Chiapis to northern Argentina.  Both Aguti and Guatusa are used locally. Click to see big picture (500x480 pixels; 120 KB)
Agoutis are rodents which mate for life, and mainly eat fruits.  They are hunted for food. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 133 KB)
One might think of the Paca (Cuniculus paca) as a spotted, nocturnal agouti, and their names are sometimes crossed.  It is an agricultural pest, but rumored to be tasty. Click to see big picture (296x480 pixels; 64 KB)
"Hola, I'm a Kinkajou, even though my passport says Potos flavus.  Let me show you some of my acrobatics." Click to see big picture (463x480 pixels; 103 KB)
"I prefer to travel from tree to tree, especially when there are gringos down on the ground.   But here in the drylands of southwestern Nicaragua the trees tend to be far apart.  Do you think I can do this one?" Click to see big picture (540x480 pixels; 72 KB)
"With the help of a prehensile tail, I just swing across.  No Problem."  (So much for the theory that kinkajaus are nocturnal.)  One of many local names is Mico Leon (monkey lion). Click to see big picture (601x480 pixels; 85 KB)
For a close-up of a Kinkajou we can go to an animal rehab Center in Panama.  There are seven subspecies of Potos flavus, stretching from Mexico to Brazil, but they are widely hunted and endangered. Click to see big picture (345x480 pixels; 54 KB)
Sylvilagus brasiliensis andinus, the present name for an andean rabbit, adapted to the high paramos.  In this case, it is common in the bunchgrass paramo surrounding Chimborazo Mountain, the highest in Ecuador, photographed at about 4300 meters altitude.
The Variegated Tree Squirrel, Sciurus variegatoides.  This is one of the sixteen subspecies that spread the species from Mexico to Panama.  Click to see big picture (573x480 pixels; 84 KB)
Sciurus aureogaster has a more restricted range of southern Mexico and Guatemala.  It goes by names such as Mexican Grey Squirrel and Mexican Red-belly Squirrel.  Here near Hautulco, Mexico.
Another view of the Mexican Grey Squirrel in southwestern Mexico.
A red squirrel, from Manizales, Colombia.  It appears to be the North Amazon Red Squirrel, Sciurus igniventris. Click to see big picture (501x480 pixels; 124 KB)
A Red-tailed Squirrel (Sciurus granatensis) plays hide and seek in the bushes near the town of Minca, northeastern Colombia.  The species ranges from Costa Rica to Ecuador.
Rhynchonycteris naso, is the unpronounceable latin name of the Sharp Nosed or Proboscis Bat.  Here on the ceiling of the Sarapiqui Lodge (Costa Rica) they are next to a research station, so it is no surprise that they have been banded. Click to see big picture (348x480 pixels; 69 KB)
These White-lined Bats (Platyrrhinus lineatus) are also banded, as they have chosen to roost at the Smithsonian Institute on Barro Colorado Island in the Panama Canal.  They are native from here down into tropical South America.
Vicuña (the cameloid Vicugna vicugna) have been re-introduced into the bunchgrass paramo surrounding Ecuador's highest summit, Chimborazo, from high altitudes in the Andes farther south.  They have done well, and are now widely adapted to their new home and to humans.