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The Margay: A Feline Friend of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest

Originally published in 2016

Imagine you are walking the trails of Bajo del Tigre, the Children Eternal Rainforest’s reserve on the Monteverde plateau that includes steep river gorge slopes and forests that were pastureland only decades ago. Dense rainy season clouds and the leafy canopy overhead cast a green shadow on the understory. You hear the piercing, raucous cries of brown jays, intelligent social birds. Acting as sentinels of the forest, brown jays are known to give alarm calls alerting each other to the presence of predators. The calls are relentless, and as you approach, you notice that the birds are directing their attention at something up in the trees.

Scanning the layers of branches, trunks, and vines, you spot the object of the jays’ protests. A margay is curled in the snag of a Cedro dulce (a tree in the mahogany family), its tawny coat spotted and mottled and its ears twitching occasionally. First blinking as if to block out the screeches of the jays and the light of day (margays are mostly nocturnal), the margay notices you and stares with its large circular eyes.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies margays as “Near threatened,” with habitat loss contributing strongly to their decline in population. Although the overall range of margays extends from Mexico to Uruguay and northern Argentina, the margays of Central America are genetically distinct, having evolved separately after migrating north from South America.

The Children’s Eternal Rainforest provides expanses of habitat where margays have space, prey, and safety from hunting. Your support of Friends of the Rainforest allows us to protect habitat, conduct monitoring, and maintain trails and infrastructure that facilitate viewing and appreciation of wildlife.

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