I have participated as an assistant in several projects while I was an undergraduate student in the Mayor de San Simon University, Cochabamba – Bolivia. In 2005, I worked as a research assistant on animal community ecology at the Centre of Biodiversity and Genetics of that university. Also in 2005, I carried out a project evaluating the illegal trade of wild mammals in a popular market in Cochabamba city with the purpose of understanding the economic and cultural importance of this activity and to determine which species may be most affected by this trade. In 2007 I worked as a volunteer assistant on the WWF’s AREAS project studying the ecology of jaguars and pumas in the Amazon rainforest of Peru.
I finished my BSc degree in Biology in 2008, carrying out a thesis with the Wildlife Conservation Society on estimating the densities and activity patterns of jaguars, pumas, ocelots and Geoffroy’s cats in the Chaco dry forests of southern Bolivia using camera trapping surveys. In this project we found out that jaguars and pumas exhibit temporal separation in some areas of the Chaco. We also detected that jaguars cross the border between Bolivia and Paraguay, leaving the Kaa-Iya National Park and entering ranches, where they may be involved in conflicts with humans. Both jaguars and pumas occurred at their lowest densities in this borderland area, in comparison with the rest of the Chaco. We have suggested that these findings constitute a strong argument in favour of binational efforts to conserve these important populations of large cats.
After the completion of this course at Oxford, I look forward to develop research projects related to the ecology of cats and their intraguild interactions in Bolivia. I am also interested in studying the conflict between large cats and humans in the Beni Savannas and provide plausible solutions to it.
‘The whole course has been a great experience for me in every aspect. Great teachers, a lot of practical experience on many types of data analyses and many new things learnt, the opportunity to interact and learn from world-class experts in the fields that I’m most interested in, and sharing all this time with the other Panthers. Also has been a great honour for me to be part of a very prestigious research group as it is the WildCRU and a very prestigious University as it is Oxford. I am sure this course has marked a inflection point in my career as I feel now more prepared to do good science.’ Dec 16th 2009.
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