Big Cats, WWF & The Guardian’s Coverage

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A jaguar captured by a camera trap on the island. The WWF researchers plan to set more traps in 2020. Photograph: WWF Brazil

Jaguar and other wild cats, big and small, have been a topic of interest on this platform since we began back in 2011. We have also featured many stories where WWF is the hero, carrying out important work that needs support. Phoebe Weston somehow escaped our attention until now, so special thanks to the Guardian for maintaining their commitment to quality coverage of nature and environmental issues, which I depend on for my daily exercise in awareness:

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A jaguar resting on a tree on Maracá-Jipioca. The WWF hopes to collar two more cats next year.
Photograph: André Dib/WWF Brazil

A thriving population of jaguars living on a small, unspoilt island off the coast of the Brazilian Amazon has learned to catch fish in the sea to survive, conservationists have found.

The Maracá-Jipioca Ecological Station island reserve, three miles off the northern state of Amapá, acts as a nursery for jaguars, according to WWF researchers who have collared three cats and set up 70 camera traps on the remote jungle island.

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A jaguar caught on camera with a fish in its mouth. Photograph: WWF Brazil

Although jaguars have previously been spotted catching fish in Brazil’s Pantanal wetlands, this is believed to be the first evidence the elusive creatures have been jumping in the sea to catch prey.

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A three-toed sloth, a flock of flamingos, and a toco toucan, all inhabitants of the Maracá-Jipioca Ecological Station reserve. Photograph: André Dib/WWF Brazil

“This is the first time that behaviour has been spotted in the Amazon,” said Marcelo Oliveira, senior programme officer at WWF Brazil, who is leading the NGO’s first jaguar-collaring research. Continue reading

Big Cats Of The South, Present & Future

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 A Brazilian soldier swims in the Negro river holding Jiquitaia, a two-year-old jaguar that was adopted by the military command of the Amazon. Jiquitaia was rescued as a cub after hunters killed his mother. Photograph: None Mangueira/AP

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A jaguar in the Yasuni national park, Orellana, Ecuador. Photograph: Lucas Bustamante/NPL

Ecuador is mentioned in the title but is not the only country where deforestation is putting at risk the survival of one of the big predator species in the hemisphere. Thanks to Kimberley Brown, writing in the Guardian, for her reporting from our neighborhood to the south on one of the animals we have featured the most in our pages over the years:

Ecuador’s vanishing jaguars: the big cat vital to rainforest survival

Industries such as coffee and cacao have devastated the jaguar’s habitat, but its dwindling numbers leave a delicate ecosystem hanging in the balance

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Jaguars are found across South America. This one was photographed deep inside the Nouragues Natural Reserve, in French Guiana. Photograph: Emmanuel Rondeau/WWF France

Across the American continent, from the north of Mexico to Argentina, the jaguar has long been revered for its strength and power. But in some parts of Ecuador, the largest cat in South America is increasingly at risk as roads, mining and agriculture take over the rainforests.

The loss of habitat is the biggest threat to jaguars in Ecuador, particularly along the coast, where more than 70% of the original forest cover has been lost. The vast majority of this destruction has taken place over the last 50 years with the expansion of the logging and agriculture industries, including coffee, cacao, palm oil and bananas, one of the country’s largest agriculture exports. Continue reading

The Jaguar in the Night

Jaguar by Seth Inman

The night drive is one of the most popular tours at Chan Chich Lodge because it is arguably the best opportunity for spotting a jaguar, ocelot, margay, or puma. Of the four forest cats, last night our tour group was fortunate to see the beloved jaguar.

The drive started at 7:30pm. Eight of us climbed up the back of the truck and took our seats along the cushioned benches facing out to the road. We were instructed by Luis, our tour guide, to look for “eyes,” and thereafter, the truck rumbled to a start and Luis began to point his flashlight in all directions, up at the tree branches and down at the forest undergrowth. The aftermath from Hurricane Earl was evident as the truck drove between broken tree stumps and overhanging branches, but this also allowed wildlife to appear in places that it had not been seen before.

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Living with Jaguars

Note: Mr. Flota was born in the village of San Lazaro in the Orange Walk District of northern Belize. He works at Chan Chich Lodge in Gallon Jug, which is situated in a protected private forest that has one of the highest densities of jaguars in the world. He is the bartender and horse wrangler for the Lodge. Mr. Flota related this story to Jacalyn Willis, a biologist working in the tropics and at the Lodge. She wrote down his story as he told it.

One sunny morning in July I decided to take a walk on the old limestone road here called Sylvester Village Road. It cuts through forest that has been selectively logged, leaving a mixed habitat good for birds. I took my binoculars and camera. As I came out of the little housing area where I live at Chan Chich Lodge, and swung around a bend in the path to get onto the road, I saw a jaguar walking ahead of me in the same direction. Now, we live in jaguar territory in a private preserve in northern Belize, so it happens fairly often that someone will see a jaguar, which usually disappears quickly. But this jaguar had not yet noticed me and was about 30 yards ahead.

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