Assessments and monitoring of big cats with camera-traps seek to find new strategies to reduce conflicts between felines and livestock producers in the Northern Paraguayan Chaco.
Last May, the Wildlife Conservation Society - Paraguay (WCS), jointly with partners Fundación para el Desarrollo Sostenible del Chaco (FDSC) and Fundación Moisés Bertoni (FMB) initiated a pilot project in the North of the Paraguayan Chaco with the goal of improving understanding about the conflict generated by big cats and their occasional attacks on cattle ranches, through monitoring methods with the use of camera-traps. The project also aims to generate information about abundance and relative distribution of big cats in the area, as well as the abundance of their natural prey.
The project is carried out in the private ranch “Cuarahy Retã”, of approximately 22,000 hectares. The methodology involves not only the installation of camera-traps in a systematic manner, but also a series of data surveys, interviews, and special activities with residents of the ranch and the neighboring estates. Additionally, it is planned a follow-up season of monitoring in a second ranch of the area. Both properties are located near protected areas (Cerro Chovoreca Nature Reserve and Rio Negro National Park).
Previous experiences in Bolivia and other countries of the region (Hoogesteijn et al. 1993, Rabinowitz 1995, Nowell & Jackson 1996, Polisar 2000, and others) have generated information and a number of anti-predatory strategies which are already available; some were successfully implemented, and others are currently under testing phase. Building on these regional experiences, WCS Paraguay seeks to promote and implement different cattle management techniques in properties of the Paraguayan Chaco, adapting the strategies to the local reality and situation of both the jaguar populations, and the cultural aspects and livestock strategies in the ranches.
Successful results have been obtained so far for this pilot project. The first checking of the camera-traps, after 24 hours of their fitting in the monitoring stations, recorded the presence of a cougar (Puma concolor). The second checking of the cameras, after the first month of their installation, resulted in a number of big mammals’ records; the most outstanding was a couple of jaguars (Panthera onca).
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