Expedition Brazil 2016 – Caatinga

Claudia collects scats from puma one day in September.

Claudia collects scats from puma one day in September.

For 21 days straight we have been trying to collar jaguars and pumas in Caatinga in eastern Brazil. Luck was not on our side this time. This has led to a change of plans in the expedition.

I am right now on my way out of Brazil after having spent more than five weeks here preparing for the capture campaign, taking pictures, preparing my study and – most importantly – we have been trying to collar jaguars and pumas here.

Together with team leader Claudia and the two experienced veterinarians Joares and Carlão, as well as Douglas, Neto and Ismael from Programa Amigos da Onça, we have been setting snares to collar the cats.

The area in which we work is vast and there are only very few roads and trails.

The area in which we work is vast and there are only very few roads and trails.

We worked in the vast area that is Boqueirão da Onça – a wild area of more than 8 000 km². The area is dry, thorny and dense. We have had temperatures of between 35-40 degrees Celsius for most days. Luckily the dry air makes the heat feel less intense.

In preparing the field campaign we had to bring nearly a ton of water out to the field camp, and food for seven people for a month. The capturing campaign has also been preceded by extensive work with camera traps especially over the past year by Claudia and her team, in order to see where the animals move.

Claudia and Carlão mount a radio transmitter which lets us see from the camp when an animal has stepped in the snare.

Claudia and Carlão mount a radio transmitter which lets us see from the camp when an animal has stepped in the snare.

Since the jaguar population in the area is sparse, you have to be a bit lucky even with all these preparations. We did see tracks of jaguar just a couple of days before we put out the first snares. Then after that – quiet.

Luckily, there will be another capturing campaign in November, followed by another one in the first half of next year. If everything goes according to plan, the team should be able to collar the first jaguars in Boqueirão da Onça leading us to greater knowledge and very important tools for conserving the animals in this environment.

The change in plans mean that I will return here to Brazil in the first half of 2017 to continue the work once the team has successfully collared at least one cat.

One evening Joares mimics the sound of a jaguar, hoping to catch their attention.

Meanwhile, I have been very happy to see that the crowdfunding campaign has received full funding! I wish to thank everybody that has helped out and I am looking forward to making this important work happen in 2017! Thank you once again!

And also, thank you very much for this time, Brazil, and see you soon.

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3 thoughts on “Expedition Brazil 2016 – Caatinga

  1. Hello Jonatan! It’s so good to read about your experiences! I really hope the team does manage to collar a jaguar, because that could reveal lots of crucial information.

    Also, I’m sorry that I didn’t help you more with your crowdfunding campaign. I was just starting graduate school when you released your post about it, and I must’ve missed it during all of that craziness. But be sure to let me know if you need help for the second phase of your project! I probably won’t be able to contribute much financially, but I can definitely help you spread the word.

    Speaking of crowdfunding, do you feel like that’s a good way to raise money? I might have an opportunity to study what sorts of beliefs (meaning cultural, personal, and spiritual) people hold towards jaguars in Guyana this coming summer, but it will be expensive. So I’ll need a way to raise money for it: probably at least $5,000 (I don’t know the exact amount yet). I’m going to try for some grants, but I’m expecting them to be very competitive.

  2. Hi there Josh!

    I hope that they will be successful in November and December. It’s a very good team so it should go well. It would be really good for its conservation if we can do this. Jaguars have been well studied in the Pantanal but Caatinga is very different, both in terms of people, economy, domestic animals, environment and wildlife density.

    It sounds like it is an interesting subject that you would like to study in Guyana. What is it that you are studying?

    Crowdfunding can be a good way of getting a small project started. It all depends on how good one is to market the project and if one can make a project that people can connect with. You seem to have a lot of followers on your blog so maybe it will be successful if you spread it there?

  3. Pingback: It is Happening Monday – The Jaguar

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