Puma field work in Brazil

Ananias looks out over an area that we are soon trekking into.

In the past few weeks I’ve been out in the field in Caatinga in eastern Brazil studying the diet of a female puma. This is the first time that puma has ever been studied in this biome.

What I’ve done is I have visited sites where she has stayed for a little bit of time in order to see what she has done there. Was she eating something or just resting? The most important thing I have been wanting to find out is how much does she prey on domestic animals. This is very important because there is a lot of poaching of jaguars and pumas since they do kill and eat livestock. But how common is it? Are the farmers exaggerating or is it a real problem? And what could be done to alleviate this conflict?

There are a lot of thorny plants in Caatinga.

The field work was very difficult due to the harch environment of Caatinga. The plants are thorny and the vegetation is thick. Many plants have fish-hook thorns that would rip a normal t-shirt into pieces in a matter of hours. Also, for each step you take, there is at least one plant there to trip you. When going off-track, we progressed about 500 meters per hour. Luckily, to my help was Ananias, a local who came to be my field assistant. With his help I could use the many trails that exist which helped a lot.

Here I am investigating a goat that has been eaten by puma.

Ananias and I trekked on average ten hours per day in sweltering temperatures in this rough environment visiting these cluster sites. The temperature where we worked averaged about 30-35 degrees C in daytime. Add to this the clothes necessary to protect against the vegetation and it soon becomes very warm.

This six-banded armadillo was eaten by puma.

Some of the interesting things about working in this environment is trying the local fruits that grow ever so seldom. Running in to a mango tree after trekking a long distance was a great experience and I think that I have never tasted mangoes that sweet. There have been a lot of other interesting fruits, too, which I can’t even pronounce the names of.

Ananias has found a site used by locals to illegally trap carnivores.

There have been a lot of interesting finds in this study. This is the first time ever that this species has been studied in this biome, making it a pioneering study. I will now get down to analyzing the results. Hopefully this will lead to us being more able to protect pumas and jaguars in this area in the future – so that we can have a green planet full of life.

The project has been done as a part of Programa Amigos da Onça.

 

This is “cocinha”, small coconuts that you can find every here and there. Crack the shell between two rocks and you can eat the small coconut inside.

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The Iberian lynx and Doñana National Park

Between 24 to 28 October I went to Doñana National Park in southern Spain to meet Antonio Rivas of the Iberian lynx Ex-situ Conservation Programme El Acebuche and Guillermo Lopez from the Lynx Life project. Both projects are fundamental in saving the Iberian lynx.

Just ten years ago, in 2002, it was estimated that there were only 150 individuals left of the Iberian lynx, which made it the most endangered cat species in the world. These 150 individuals were spread out in two separate populations, one in Sierra Morena and the other in Doñana National Park.

Working intesively with bringing the population up by removing threats such as snares, dangers in traffic and bringing the rabbit population up, the teams also work with genetic reinforcement and reintroduction and by today 17 Iberian lynxes have been reintroduced into the wild from the breeding programme.

One day we climbed up a fire watch tower and got a spectacular view of Doñana Natural Park, which acts as a buffer zone to the national park.

I was not lucky enough to see an Iberian lynx in the wild but the knowledge that they are there is enough.

My year 2011

I have made an attempt to conclude my year.

I have held seven talks in Värmland about carnivore conservation. I hope next year to bridge out into a larger area of Sweden.

I have spent four months working with black-footed cats in South Africa and written two articles about my expedition. Also Värmlands folkblad interviewed me about my trip before I took off there. In South Africa I saw six species of wild cat in the wild, actually all but the serval. I also had the unique opportunity to see black-footed cat kittens in the wild. Next year will see more trips and expeditions.

I worked for 27 days straight and 74 hours a week with moose foraging after only having one day off after the South Africa trip. During these days I traveled four counties and went 5 703 kilometers by car – something that I am less proud of. In the last day of work my car held its last breath and I later sold it to a scrap dealer who shipped it to either the Middle East or Africa. I got an ethanol car to replace it which I consider one step better (hey at least I slice some rain forest down to drive my car as opposed to everybody else who put the last remnants of ancient life in their tanks risking the entire planet in the process).

I found out that I had a really bad B12 deficiency, something that left me in a dark emotional vacuum for several months until I figured to go and get a test. I was annoyed that they did not have B12 pills that were not tested on animals.

I held a couple of guided moose tours, one of which was with the sweetest group of Dutch people that I have ever met.

I took on a job of working with a forestry census only to become immensely frustrated and almost depressed by it so I quit the job after three failed attempts of starting (sorry Svensk Naturförvaltning, forestry is not for me).

I have now been on the board of Naturskyddsföreningen Värmland for two years and we are currently working with organizing a carnivore symposium that will be held in Karlstad in early 2012.

I have censused otters for a week and was interviewed by both Värmlands folkblad and Nya Wermlandstidningen.

I have studied intensively – at 300 % pace – for the last two months of the year, something that should lead up to something cool in 2012.

I have criss-crossed the country for various courses and meetings and met some really cool people during these trips.

I spent a few days snow tracking wolves in the beginning of the year and in one day Mareike planted the car on top a two meter high snow pile only for us to be helped out by two wolf hunters the day before the hunt.

I have some awesome friends and I would not even be half as alive if it was not for you ♥