The Golden Shadow

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Project

The Golden Shadow project is built around tracking down Osa's last jaguars and the ambition to capture the greatest photograph of every single one of them. In order to show different faces of the Osa Peninsula, the artistic process was thought as different scenarios happening in the rainforest's various ecosystems. By transporting the spectator on the other side of these wild frames the aspiration is to reconnect them with nature.

The project focuses on 3 dimensions:

Camera trap
Affiche jaguar Tico Haroutiounian

As finding a jaguar is not an easy task, figuring out how this invisible creature moves around and what it is searching for is essential. Beyond the field work and scientific knowledge it is intuition that is the key to this pursuit. Thinking like a jaguar may reveal his path. Once it is discovered, an autonomous photographic studios is installed in the heart of the jungle and activated when animals are passing by.
Capturing the right photograph then becomes a matter of perseverance, luck and time.

It’s all about patience

In nature, things rarely go as planned. While it is extremely difficult to photograph a jaguar, it is even harder to achieve the expected result. The steps to get there are complicated, risky, long and technical. Only a restless effort and great patience can make it happen:

1

Find an aesthetic frame frequently visited by jaguars:
This scouting phase generally takes several months and requires significant material and human resources in order to explore remote areas, select strategic locations and set up camera traps, hoping for a jaguar to pass by.

2

Ensure that there is no passage of poachers or illegal gold diggers:
These activities being illegal, criminals often destroy material in order to eliminate compromising footages. Therefore, an observation period is always respected in order to reduce the risks.

3

Set up the studio:
Once a spot has been chosen, the autonomous photographic studio is deployed. It consists of a very high definition camera placed in a waterproof case, connected to several flashes and motion sensors. It will be active 24 hours a day.

4

Photograph the jaguar in the right position, the right way, in the right place and at the right time:
This step is the longest and the most uncertain of all. Thousands of images, most of them unusable, are taken over time before one day, acheiving the final result.

How to identify jaguars?

Being able to differentiate one jaguar from another makes it possible to identify them as individuals, estimate their numbers, track their movements over time and monitor their health condition.

Several techniques can be used:

Spots recognition:
Comparison of the spots arrangements and shapes which are specific to the coat of each jaguar.

Life marks recognition:
Broken tail, cut ear, missing limb, punctured eye, scar, handicap, specific coloration, etc.

Genetic recognition:
Feces and hair collection in the field as well as blood or saliva analysis when an individual is captured.

Recognition by spots (called rosettes) is the most used since it can be put in application for individuals without life marks and does not require direct contact with the animal. Take the example of Shāhdosa, an adult male who has never been captured and has no particular life marks, whose tracking was possible thanks to the recognition of his spots. One of them, shaped like an "S", located on its right flank, is easily identifiable. It is important to specify that the patterns adorning the two sides of the coat are not symmetrical.

Meet the jags

Over the years, from the Osa Peninsula to the Cordillera de Talamanca, several individuals have been spotted, identified and are monitored through our camera traps network. With more than 200 jaguar footages, the precious information gathered monthly is continuously enriching our database and shared with the environmental protection authorities as well as the scientific community.

Jaguar
Leonidas
Osa Peninsula
tache de jaguar
First time spotted
23.4.2021
Last time spotted
6.7.2021
Times spotted
3
About
Leonidas is the most elegant of all the jags from the Osa Peninsula! His fur shows a very special pattern with large and aesthetic rosettes all over his body making him look different from the others!
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First time spotted
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Last time spotted
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Times spotted
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About
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Osa Peninsula
First time spotted
April 23, 2021
Last time spotted
June 7, 2021
Times spotted
3
About
Leonidas is the most elegant of all the jags from the Osa Peninsula! His fur shows a very special pattern with large and aesthetic rosettes all over his body making him look different from the others!
Cordillera de Talamanca
First time spotted
February 28, 2021
Last time spotted
February 28, 2021
Times spotted
1
About
Looking forward to have more footages from this one as we are still not sure if this is a male or a female.
Cordillera de Talamanca
First time spotted
February 15, 2021
Last time spotted
March 3, 2022
Times spotted
5
About
Don is a title reserved for royalty, Don Jag lives up to his name as this huge and strong male has a rosette looking like a crown on his forehead!
Osa Peninsula
First time spotted
July 22, 2019
Last time spotted
August 24, 2019
Times spotted
5
About
This huge male appeared from nowhere and has only been spotted a few times before disappearing into the unknown again… He’s most likely not living in the Osa Peninsula anymore.
Osa Peninsula
First time spotted
May 13, 2019
Last time spotted
August 6, 2021
Times spotted
61
About
Lupo probably considers himself as the King of the Osa Peninsula as he is always confident walking around with the head up and not down as most jaguars usually do.
Osa Peninsula
First time spotted
August 8, 2018
Last time spotted
May 20, 2019
Times spotted
3
About
This was our jag number 5 so we named her La Quinta, which means The Fifth in Spanish. Being one of the only few females existing in the Osa Peninsula we hope to see her with some cubs one day…
Osa Peninsula
First time spotted
September 25, 2017
Last time spotted
March 5, 2020
Times spotted
9
About
Shāhdosa is a great walker. He has the habit of roaming very large distances covering almost the entire Osa Peninsula, more than 100,000 hectares or 10 times the size of Paris!
Osa Peninsula
First time spotted
June 30, 2017
Last time spotted
May 2, 2020
Times spotted
35
About
After years of dreaming to come face to face with a jaguar in the Osa Peninsula’s wilderness, Nubosa made my dream a reality! 17:28 - 07/10/2017. I will never forget this encounter!
Osa Peninsula
First time spotted
June 24, 2017
Last time spotted
August 11, 2021
Times spotted
72
About
Despite being fully grown, Lwazo has the particularity of being a lot smaller than the other males jaguars of the area. He has been missing from July 2020 and suddenly reappeared in June 2021 after being off the radar for almost a year.
Osa Peninsula
First time spotted
November 13, 2014
Last time spotted
November 13, 2014
Times spotted
1
About
Rüka is the first jaguar ever captured by the project's cameras! Thanks to him for showing that everything is possible.

Impact

Through photographing the most impressive wildcat of America, the goal is to create an emotional reaction that changes people's perception of how wilderness is linked to their environment. Just like primary forests as old as the world, the jaguar is an incarnation of scarcity, mystery, beauty and unpredictability making him their greatest ambassador.

As most people live disconnected from the wild, focused on their daily occupations, The Golden Shadow aims to establish a link between humans and nature with art as a front door. It is essential to reach as much people as possible, from local actors living yards away from the forest, to urban populations through social media, in order to motivate them to initiate significant and positive changes in the long run.

Along with raising awareness about conservation, Tico's Wild Studio is becoming a key actor regarding jaguars in Costa Rica, participating in scientific advancement by providing essential informations to numerous studies and articles.

The next step in our conservation effort is the creation of a natural reserve that will protect the main jaguar paths of the Osa Peninsula and its biodiversity. For more information visit www.lasoncas.com

Artwork

Once the long-awaited photograph is taken, the ultimate goal is achieved. Every single one of them is a new chapter of this odyssey and is telling a part of the story, making The Golden Shadow an artistic tribute to jaguars and their natural habitat.

The frame, which all elements are brought from Costa Rica, is an integral part of the artwork. The wood is tinted black to symbolize the nothingness towards which the wild world is being swept away. The gold, represents the thread of life and hope that still exists, embodied by the jaguar.

Jaguar Avenue

This secret location sits on top of an inaccessible and forgotten mountain on the Osa Peninsula. It is covered by a jungle that belongs to an extremely rare ecosystem: the lowland cloud forest. Attracted by its pristine vegetation, its topography and its remoteness, several jaguars use this passage as a route through which they pass regularly. This is where its name comes from. Dense and impenetrable, the Jaguar Avenue never ceases to amaze and unveil its mysteries over time.

As if he knew he was expected, he finally appears, carried by the mist, under the first light of day. His scarred face shows the marks of his story. Serene, he walks straight towards his future. Shāhdosa has just frozen that moment for eternity, becoming, in a way, immortal.

« The jaguar is the most beautiful of  ambassadors. »