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Keith Woolford

Jaguar Conservation

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26 Jaguar Deaths in 2016 as Population Continues to Diminish

Un estudio del Instituto Smithsonian revela que se han matado a 26 jaguares hasta septiembre de este año

A study conducted by researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) reveals that the number of jaguars that have been killed in Panama continues to increase. Up to September of this year, the death of 26 of these felines were reported.
The results of this research were shared in the Twentieth Congress of the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation, held recently in Belize.
Despite the fact that this figure is already alarming, Ricardo Moreno, associate researcher at STRI and director of the Foundation Yaguará Panama, and his colleagues expressed in the presentation of the study that they have reason to believe that the number may be higher, since for 2015 were 23 jaguars killed.
The researchers analyzed various reports of deaths in the quepudieron identify that the cases were in "retaliation by the predation of cattle, sheep and dogs".
In addition, the results indicate that these acts were committed by a wide range of people, of tourist guides to farmers.
With this work, the scientists were looking to answer the following question: To what extent the forests, which still remain, can support the diversity of wildlife?
Los investigadores reunieron informes de las muertes de jaguares entre una amplia gama de personas, desde guías turísticos a ganaderos
The researchers gathered reports of the deaths of jaguars between a wide range of people, from tourist guides to farmers
taken from Facebook/the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

For this study, the STRI reported that inventories have been carried out with cameras-trap from 2005 to 2014, in 15 national parks and forest fragments in both sides of the Panama Canal.
The recent findings of geologists and paleontologists to this institute detail that the land bridge, which connects the country with North and South America, was interrupted by the construction of the Canal and that coupled with deforestation, hamper the flow of animals and their genes.
In addition to these felines, STRI notes that the tapir and the peccary of white lips are also at risk. Their presence is considered as an indicator of tropical healthy environments. These species, precise the Institute, "have disappeared in important areas of the Panamanian section of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor".
"The peccaries are one of the main species in the diet of the jaguar, and when hunters peccaries, often also kill jaguars," notes the information disclosed by the STRI.
The researchers conclude that the jaguar conservation requires the dedication of the governments, and the citizenship and oenegés reiterated that although education is key to understanding the situation of the countries, because time is running out.
"Education takes years and the jaguars and peccaries have no years", read the statement.
Edited by Keith Woolford

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Wildlife biologist Ricardo Moreno is one of 14 National Geographic Emerging Explorers for 2017

Please acknowledge his work in saving jaguars from extinction in Panama, by voting for him at least once in the Heroes of Panama competition.  https://www.tvn-2.com/…/heroe…/perfiles/2017/ricardo_moreno/

National Geographic Emerging Explorer Ricardo Moreno Giving a Voice to Panama’s Jaguars 

Posted by Christina Nunez in Explorers Journal on June 6, 2017


Wildlife biologist Ricardo Moreno is one of 14 National Geographic Emerging Explorers for 2017. This group is being honored for the way its members explore new frontiers and find innovative ways to remedy some of the greatest challenges facing our planet. The 2017 class of Emerging Explorers will be honored at the National Geographic Explorers Festival in Washington, D.C. in June.

As a kid in Panama, Ricardo Moreno used to wake up early to watch National Geographic documentaries about wildlife, especially big cats. That early fascination gave way to a career as a biologist and wildlife conservationist studying wildcats, primarily in Costa Rica and Panama. His research has shown, for example, that jaguars are being killed faster than they can reproduce.

Through his nonprofit organization, Yaguará, Moreno studies wildcats. But he believes the key to conserving them is winning over the locals for whom the cats are enemies. He says he’s given more than 1,300 talks during a five-year period in Costa Rica, and now, back in Panama. He’s still talking to all kinds of people, from farmers to government ministers, in the hope that every conversation, every camera trap picture, will help buy time for the animals.


Beyond National Geographic documentaries, what else sparked your interest in wildcats in particular?

I grew up watching my own domestic cat from when I was 14 years old. With my cat, I never slept. Every single day when I’d wake up, the first thing I did at that time in my life was try to find my cat outside and see what he was doing with the other cats around.

While in school I continued watching the group of domestic cats living near my house. If they moved to somewhere, if they fought, if they mated with the females—I needed to record everything about their behavior. At midnight I’d wake up and go out trying to find where they were.

I grew up in a not very safe place. My mom was very angry with me for being out in the street late at night. “But mom, I am trying to find the cat and see what he’s doing!” After my cat died [seven years later], I started to get more focused on wildcats and started reading a lot of scientific papers.


You were inspired to come to Gamboa, a town surrounded by Soberania National Park, during a visit in 1997. Why did you ultimately move there?

I thought the beauty in this area was so wonderful. We walked inside the national park and we saw jaguar tracks. I thought, in the future I want to live in Gamboa because if I live there, then all of those animals will be, like, the animals my backyard.

And you know, now I live in Gamboa, but the sad thing is that we’ve had no pictures of jaguars from the camera traps since 2012. For me it’s super sad, because I thought the moment I moved here it was going to be very easy for me to track jaguars in the area. It’s not like this. The jaguar faces a lot of threats in Panama.


You’ve said one of the biggest threats comes from farmers, such as cattle ranchers. How does that conflict take shape?

Most of the farmers kill jaguars because the jaguars kill their domestic animals. Second of all, in Panama people have a lot of fear because they believe this is a very dangerous animal, even though jaguars are not human-killers.

If the jaguar kills one cow, for example, and if the land owner arrives early and sees that, they climb a tree close to the cow and wait with a gun. At night or in the afternoon when the jaguar comes back to eat again, they shoot it. Others, they send hound dogs to chase the animal. The moment the jaguar climbs a tree to rest, people arrive and shoot it in the tree. If people are a little bit lazy and they know they want to sell the skin and other parts of the animal, they poison it.

What did you want to do in founding Yaguará?

We had an idea in our mind: We need to do science, but at the same time, if we are doing science, we need to work closely with the people. We started doing a lot of talks in villages and in schools.

Usually after researchers have a result, they just write and publish a science paper. But for us, this is not the only thing. We publish the science paper, but after that, we want to publish in the newspaper. We want to do talks and show everybody what we can do with those results.

Founding Yaguará in Panama, my main idea was to create a group of warriors. Warriors means, for me, students or any single person who really wants to help in this kind of work. To help people. Because for most of the people coexisting with jaguars, the jaguar is the enemy.

We need to find a way they can understand how important the jaguar is for the ecosystem and for them. It’s about trying to build better things for the humans who coexist with the jaguars. I believe if we do that, those people are going to save the jaguars.


But how do you do that for people whose livestock are being eaten?

We’re doing workshops with farmers, because after a lot of years I realized if you do a talk for one hour, they have a lot of questions, and they don’t get answers.

We set up camera traps with farmers, and if they show us the best places to take jaguar photos, we give them a cash prize. Usually, if we set up the cameras and a jaguar kills, they call us. My girlfriend told me, “You are buying time.” And I say yes, we are buying time. Because in that moment, if the jaguar kills animals, they are not going to kill it. First they are going to call us.

We also visit farms to see if they can offer tours—maybe the land has waterfalls or wonderful trails. Then we can promote the place with a tour operator in Panama. We teach people how to make a plaster cast of the jaguar track. If the plaster casts are very good, we can help sell them. We offer free advice and sometimes help with medicine for the cows, pigs, horses and even dogs in communities. If we need to tag a jaguar with a GPS collar and people help us, they can be paid and have more information about what we are doing and why.

The main thing is to build trust, talking with farmers and being super honest. I never say, I promise you this or that. I say, to do this, I need you to help me and I’m going to help you. But the goal is to conserve the cat. Most of the time, on the first try, you’re not going to convince them. You need to spend more quality time. Stick with them. Walk with them.

Can you talk about jaguars and their importance? What do you see?

Even now, if I see a jaguar track, for me it’s one of the most beautiful things, because I can say, wow, those animals are still in that place. I’m fascinated with making plaster casts of those animals’ tracks because I try to show to people how powerful they are, how majestic they are, and how important they are for our ecosystems. Jaguars and other wildcats control the population of herbivores such as white-tailed deer and peccaries. If we don’t have that, the herbivores are going to eat all the seeds and we won’t have new trees.

It’s easy to talk with people who like wildcats, but the challenge is to convince people who really don’t like them. We need to work with these kinds of people. Most researchers, they don’t want this kind of stress. [They want to write someone off, saying] “This guy is problematic.” No, we need to work with him. Especially with him.

Most people, they already know the animal is wonderful and beautiful. They usually say, I really like that animal, but if it starts killing our livestock and no one helps us, we need to kill them. Usually humans, if they don’t know something, they are afraid of it. Our idea is to explain more so they know the animal as another species in the world—like us.

Conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Want to become a National Geographic Explorer? Learn how you can apply for a grant from the National Geographic Society.





Edited by Keith Woolford

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Jaguar Conservation Depends on Neighbors’ Attitudes

December 28, 2017
Jaguar Aquiles Cana-Fundación Yaguara Panamá_0.jpg

According to a new survey of residents living near two major national parks in Panama, jaguars deserve increased protection. Nature and wildlife are considered national treasures. But because most residents still support road-building in the parks, the survey team—including Ricardo Moreno, a Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute research associate—recommends further education to emphasize the connection between healthy ecosystems and jaguar survival.

Ninon Meyer viendo la piel de un jaguar recien matado cerca de Yaviza, en Darien.JPG

“Attitudes of stakeholder groups are especially important to consider, as they can significantly affect policy, thus making the foundations of carnivore management as social and political as they are scientific,” the study concludes.

Cerro Hoya National Park is an isolated tropical forest remnant (325 square kilometers, 125 square miles) on Panama’s Pacific coast, whereas Darién National Park is Panama’s most extensive park (5,790 square kilometers, 2235 square miles) in the area between Panama and Colombia, the only gap in the Pan-American highway from Alaska to Chile.

“According to our study, there is more human—jaguar conflict in Darién National Park, probably because communities are near larger tracts of unbroken forest, which is much better jaguar habitat,” Moreno said. “Ironically, the respondents’ ideas about roads into the parks are likely to increase this conflict and make effective park management significantly more challenging.”

Moreno’s jaguar camera-trapping work is featured in the new Smithsonian Channel production, Panama’s Animal Highway. He was recently chosen as one of National Geographic’s 2017 Emerging Explorers.

The survey team, including Jessica Fort, Clayton Neilsen and Andrew Carver from Southern Illinois University with Moreno and Ninon Meyer from Fundación Yaguará Panama and the Sociedad Panameña de Biología, surveyed 85 residents of 23 rural communities around Cerro Hoya National Park and 54 residents of five communities around Darién National Park. They interviewed one adult over 18 years of age per household, focusing on residents such as landowners and cattle ranchers, who were most likely to be affected by jaguars.

Retaliation for livestock predation is the primary cause of jaguar deaths: 96 percent of the estimated 230 jaguar killings between 1989 and 2014 were attributed to this cause.

Road building is another well-known cause of environmental degradation. Earlier this year, STRI research associate William Laurance published a paper in Science, stressing the importance of considering wildlife conservation during transportation infrastructure planning, because it is well known in the conservation community that roads “can unleash a Panadora’s box of environmental ills, such as land encroachment, wildlife poaching, forest fragmentation, exotic species invasions and illegal mining.”

At the beginning of the survey, respondents were asked to identify jaguars, pumas and ocelots from photographs. Only respondents who could distinguish between these species were included in the analysis. In both study areas, the majority of respondents were male. Researchers asked 32 questions to assess their socioeconomic status, personal experience with jaguars, perceptions and attitudes about jaguars and perceptions of the park and its management.

A higher number of respondents in Darién had personally seen a jaguar in their lifetime. Communities in Darién report more livestock losses: Six respondents in Darién reported 33 predation events involving cattle, whereas only one reported a predation event in Cerro Hoya.

Nearly a third of respondents at Cerro Hoya admitted to hunting within park boundaries during the previous year, their preferred prey being the collared peccary, Pecari tajacu. No respondents in the Darién National Park group said they had hunted in the park in the previous year, but those who had in the past preferred the spotted paca, Cuniculus paca. Women in the survey were more likely to agree than men that they would be happier without jaguars.

At Cerro Hoya, 71 percent of respondents were worried about the future of the park and 51 percent thought that it was adequately protected. Near Darien National Park, 54 percent of residents were unsure or had no opinion about whether they were worried about the future of the park, but only 35 percent believed that the park was adequately protected.

Panthera, the McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Research Program and GEMAS/Fondo Darién provided funding and the Department of Forestry and Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory at Southern Illinois University, Peace Corps-Panama the Azuero Earth Project and Panama’s Ministry of the Environment (MiAmbiente) provided additional support and permits.

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, headquartered in Panama City, Panama, is a part of the Smithsonian Institution. The Institute furthers the understanding of tropical nature and its importance to human welfare, trains students to conduct research in the tropics and promotes conservation by increasing public awareness of the beauty and importance of tropical ecosystems. STRI website. Promotional video.


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Campaign to protect Panama jaguar population


Posted 31/05/2019

A new campaign to promote the conservation of jaguars   .   has been  launched by the  Panama Jaguar Foundation  which reports that at has been  launched by The Panama Jaguar Foundation which  reports that at least 113 jaguars have been killed in Panama between 2015 and 2019,

The Jaguar is  largest feline in the American rainforest and a species difficult to see.

 The campaign titled “The Jaguar, the Guardian of the Forests of Panama” highlights in a  brief video the situation of the Jaguars, reduced by forest clearance and hunting in retaliation for the loss of cattle and other animals in communities contiguous to its habitat. The role of the jaguar in the balance of the forest is also highlighted.

 The campaign, disseminated in social networks, aims to "make the jaguar visible as the true king of our forests and make known the close relationship that exists between humans with this wonderful species," says biologist Ricardo Moreno, a researcher associated with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and. director of Yaguará Panamá.

After 20 years dedicated to the study of the big cat, Moreno is optimistic: "The jaguar is still in danger in Panama, but we have managed to see some changes, people have become a bit sensitized, that is a reality, there are more people who contact the authorities before killing a jaguar, this is very good. "

Yaguará in conjunction with the Ministry of Environment and other allies is working on management plans in 15 farms, have dealt with 128 cases of conflict between big cats and humans, in addition to the monitoring of the species with camera traps in the Darien National Park Darién and awareness workshops and talks throughout the country.

Being at the top of the food chain in the American jungle, says   Moreno, jaguars regulate the populations of prey species (peccaries, deer, painted rabbits, etc.) that feed on seeds; this creates a balance that, if broken, would generate an excess of prey that would eat all the seeds of the soil and in 50 years or more the forest will not be able to regenerate. "Less forest equals less oxygen and less water."



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