In Brazil’s wetlands, jaguars face a new threat: Drug traffickers

The rise of jaguar watching tours in Brazil has brought a sea-change in the attitudes of ranchers.  The cats, once seen as a threat to livestock, are now seen as a big money draw.

But the recent discovery of a dead jaguar has raised an unexpected new threat: drug smugglers.  The fear is that drug smugglers who favour the quiet backwaters of the Pantanal are now shooting jaguars to deter the unwanted attention of tourists.

Read more… In Brazil’s wetlands, jaguars face a new threat: Drug traffickers | Al Jazeera America.

Tourists risk lives for pictures of rare jaguars fighting in Brazil

This hair-raising picture shows brave tourists risking their lives for pictures as they strayed close to fighting jaguars.

Seasoned wildlife photographer Paul Williams was overjoyed to finally find elusive jaguars in their natural habitat, the Brazilian Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland area.

But Paul, 34, who works for the BBC Natural History Unit, soon found his joy turn to terror as he watched foolhardy tour boats jostling to see which could get the closest.

“Sadly it’s a scene that’s too common in natural parks around the world, but it’s important to remember that without tourism many of these areas would be under threat. Everyone has the right to experience nature and wildlife, but the organisations and companies who manage this have a responsibility to ensure that the welfare of the wildlife is paramount.”

Read more… Tourists risk lives for pictures of rare jaguars fighting in Brazil – AOL Travel UK.

Wild Brazil: wildlife holidays in search of the Big Five of Brazil

Brazil wildlife holidays: in search of the Big Five - Telegraph

Seeing the big five was a life-enhancing experience. But each of the species we saw was wondrous in its way. We should not only see beauty in rarity or in predators. I’m thinking of the near-invisible pottoo bird, immobile in a tree. Or the multi-coloured araçari and banana-beaked toco toucan, which never sat still. The rufous ovenbirds with their clay-and-earth caves for nests. Pearl kite. Tufted-eared marmoset. Snail kite. Anhinga. Black howler monkey. Janday parakeet. Flavescent warbler.

Read more: Brazil wildlife holidays: in search of the Big Five – Telegraph.

New species of wild cat identified in Brazil

A new species of wild cat has been identified in South America using molecular markers, researchers claim.

By comparing DNA sequences, the team revealed that two populations of tigrina in Brazil do not interbreed and are evolutionarily distinct.

Results also show the two populations have contrasting interactions with the closely related pampas cat and Geoffroy’s cat.
BBC Nature – New species of wild cat identified in Brazil.

Jaguar kill in the Pantanal

 

Another account of a fantastic jaguar encounter in Brazil’s Pantanal.  This is rapidly becoming one of the worlds’ hotspots for big cat sightings with one or two jaguar sightings a day being the norm.  But with this comes with it’s own challenges.  World is that there were around 11 boats of tourists all jockeying for the best shots of this kill.  Getting more like the Maasai Mara every day…
Brutal moment a jaguar stalks and ambushes a caiman before dragging reptile into water and killing it | Mail Online.

A jaguar safari in the wilds of Brazil MiamiHerald.com

We all wanted to encounter this most fascinating wild animal of the tropics, the third largest cat in the world. Now here it was, slowly walking toward us. Two little boys, visiting from England, could hardly contain their excitement. On our ride over we had encountered an abundance of wildlife, but spotting our first jaguar was more exhilarating than all the monkeys and macaws put together…

via A jaguar safari in the wilds of Brazil – Latin American & Caribbean Travel – MiamiHerald.com.

South American Big Five: Jaguar

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Probably deriving its name from the Tupian Indian word, yaguara “beast” the jaguar, Panthera onca, is the only Panthera species found in the Americas.

The third largest cat in the world – male jaguars can weight up to 159 kilograms (350 lb), twice their leopard equivalents – jaguars inhabit forests and open savannahs over an increasingly decreasing range. Once frequent in the southern United States and as far south as southern Argentina, excessive hunting has restricted jaguars to a handful of strongholds in Central and South America.

These impressive hunters are mostly ambush predators, usually dispatching their prey by biting through the skull. Strong swimmers, jaguars often hunt river banks and are not deterred from pursuing their prey (such as capybaras and caiman) into the water. Other prey includes large mammals such as deer, tapirs, peccaries, dogs and foxes. Smaller prey items can include frogs, mice, birds, fish, sloths, monkeys, and turtles. The jaguar is often described as nocturnal, but is more specifically crepuscular (peak activity around dawn and dusk) and can quite often be seen relaxing during the day on river banks, sand beaches and occasionally in trees.

The jaguar is a near threatened species and its numbers are declining. Threats include habitat loss and fragmentation. While international trade in jaguars or their parts is prohibited, the cat is still regularly killed by humans, particularly in conflicts with ranchers and farmers in South America. Although reduced, its range remains large; given its historical distribution, the jaguar has featured prominently in the mythology of numerous indigenous American cultures, including that of the Maya and Aztec.

Where to watch jaguars?

Jaguars are usually incredibly difficult to see in the wild and visitors to even the most pristine rainforest reserves are almost universally disappointed. Much of this is due to the terrain and territorial range of the animal. Female jaguars have a typical range of 25 – 40 square kilometres with males almost twice this. This is a huge area to hide even a large cat, particularly when the terrain is dense forest and the animals are understandably weary of humans. You stand chances of observing rainforest jaguars are in the Manu Biosphere in Peru, Chan Chich Lodge in Belize and the Iwokrama Forest Field Station in Guyana but you would need to be incredibly fortunate in any of these locations.

Jaguar Watching in the Pantanal

The world’s jaguar hotspot is undoubtedly is the Pantanal region of Brazil. There are a number of good reasons for this: firstly there is an unusually high density of prey species here (especially capybaras and caiman) particularly during the dry months (June – October), this supports a higher density of jaguars with each having a much smaller range than their rainforest counterparts. Secondly, the terrain is much more open here with the jaguars crucially choosing to hunt and rest on relatively open riverbanks. Finally, the local human population in the Pantanal is relatively tolerant of jaguars; fisherman, in particular, have been known to throw titbits to jaguars they encounter.

Although you have a moderately good chance of seeing jaguars throughout the Pantanal, the key area is the Cuiaba river just north of the small village of Porto Jofrey. Here, jaguars seem particularly comfortable with people and it is often possible watch jaguars resting, mating and hunting with no real regard to the observing tourists. Although there are a couple of other lodges in the area, the SouthWild Jaguar Houseboat is the only place to ‘guarantee’ jaguar sightings, being located in the heart of the best jaguar area and using a series of scout boats to scour the riverbanks. Sightings of six or seven jaguars during a three day period are now common here and the record currently stands at an incredible13 jaguar sightings – a quite remarkable testament to the richness of the Pantanal and the effort put in by the lodge.

National Geographic – Secret Brazil

For the best safari experience in South America head to Brazil’s Pantanal for superb chances of seeing big mammals such as tapirs, giant river otters and capybara.  There are now excellent opportunities to spot one of the worlds largest and most beautiful big cats: the jaguar.  This superb documentary gives a wonderful introduction to South America’s safari hot spot.