Where Tapirs & Jaguars Once Roamed: Ever-Evolving Costa Rica

Look beyond Costa Rica's natural beauty and you'll discover a tumultuous yet fascinating history. Join author Jack Ewing as he explores the origins and development of the south-central Pacific coast and recounts his 45-year journey from cattle rancher to conservationist. Now, thanks in large part to his efforts at Hacienda Barú National Wildlife Refuge and with the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor, jaguars and tapirs may one day return to the area.


"Already an accomplished writer of wildlife stories and riveting tales of pioneer survival in this remote part of Costa Rica, Jack Ewing extends his range in this new collection. With his talent for storytelling, combined with careful research, Jack brings human prehistory to life in tales of an imagined, but believable, tribe of tapir hunters. Not satisfied with the distant human past, he reaches even further back, to breathe life into the very stones that formed Costa Rica, serving up geological history in meaty but easy-to-swallow bites.
     For Jack's many fans, the stories recalling episodes of his 45-year, personal evolution from cattle rancher, to emerging naturalist and conservationist, to renowned environmentalist will be equally enlightening and entertaining.
     This book will appeal to all ages and a wide range of readers -- tourists, naturalists, environmentalists, natural history students, local history buffs and anyone who has had the pleasure of experiencing the natural Costa Rica that Jack has worked so hard to foster and protect."
— Dorothy MacKinnon, travel writer, Fodor's Guide to Costa Rica, Insight Guide to Costa Rica, Tico Times

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Foreword by Pamela Herring
Introduction: "You Make Mistake, Maybe We Die"

Part One
1 - The Formation of Central America
2 - Hunter Gatherers and Early Agriculturalists
3 - Kobuka
4 - Petroglyphs, Headhunters, Grave Robbers
5 - A Place Where Nobody Wanted to Live

Part Two
6 - Carmelita and El Tigre
7 - The Coming of the Bongos
8 - A Bad Day Fishing
9 - Stub-Tail
10 - Markets and Wars
11 - Getting to the Other Side of the Road
12 - Law and Lawlessness in Rural Costa Rica


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Author Jack Ewing

JackEwing-headshot72dpiThe cattle business may have brought Jack Ewing to Costa Rica, but his love of nature kept him there. In 1970 Jack and his wife and young daughter ventured to Costa Rica for a 4-month job. They never left. Although life in the jungle with few modern conveniences was a far cry from his native Colorado roots, his ever-growing fascination with the rainforest soon prompted his transformation into environmentalist and naturalist.
     Hacienda Barú National Wildlife Refuge—a former cattle ranch and now a well-known ecotourism destination on the southwest coast of Costa Rica—was the result of Jack's decades of dedication to forest ecology. His expertise on biological corridor projects is much sought after, and he is currently president of two environmental organizations, ASANA (Association of Friends of Nature) and FUNDANTA (Foundation for the Path of the Tapir Biological Corridor).
     A natural-born storyteller, Jack's articles have appeared regularly in Costa Rican publications, and he often speaks to environmental, student and ecological traveler groups. His years of living in the rainforest have rendered a multitude of personal experiences, many of which are recounted in his first book, Monkeys Are Made of Chocolate. His newest title, Where Tapirs and Jaguars Once Roamed, is a fascinating look at the ecological and social history of southwestern Costa Rica, including the evolution of Hacienda Barú and the Path of the Tapir. HaciendaBaru.com

Sample Pages


A visitor traveling south along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica will experience a diversity of landscapes, from cattle ranches, farm land, and tree plantations to crocodile-filled rivers and lush rainforests. They will observe the high-rise condos of Jaco and the beautiful landscape of Manuel Antonio marred by an overabundance of hotels, restaurants, and all variety of establishments dedicated to the entertainment of tourists.
   Traveling south from the Quepos-Manuel Antonio area the visitor will encounter vast plantations of oil palms as far as the eye can see up until arriving at the Savegre River. The river itself, though large, is not remarkable, but even before entering the bridge spanning its width, the change in landscape is notable. On the south side of the bridge, a mere 200 to 300 meters to the left, a small rainforest-covered mountain range rises up from the flat lowlands. This coastal ridge forms the backbone of a natural corridor which is one of the few places on our planet where biodiversity is increasing and has been doing so for the last 30 years.




Where Tapirs and Jaguars Once Roamed: Ever-Evolving Costa Rica

Jack Ewing

$22.95 paperback
ISBN 978-1-936555-55-0
6 x 9, 288 pages
published 2015

Cover Artist Jan Betts

Jan Betts had a successful career as artist and illustrator for many years in the USA before moving to Costa Rica over 30 years ago. During her time in the rainforest, her life has gone thru many chapters, and her art has followed them all. She has a private studio/gallery where she delights in her creations.


Hacienda Baru slideshow

Costa Rica Note Cards

card images side by side

Set of 6 Notecards (3 of each design for $15) with Costa Rica illustrations by Jan Betts

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