June is coming with Uakari Lodge's Jaguar Expedition programme. Visitors contribute to the appreciation of the Mamirauá Reserve and all the important work of conservation of socio-biodiversity and management of natural resources that take place in the Amazon region.
Uakari Lodge's Jaguar Expedition program is a pioneering initiative that combines tourism, conservation and scientific dissemination for guests and community members around an endangered species, the jaguar (Panthera onca) that lives in the Amazonian region of the Mamirauá Reserve.
At the beginning of the year, researchers from the Mamirauá Institute, who carry out research into the conservation and ecology of felines in Central Amazonia, began the process by putting on the collar to monitor the jaguars. The team is made up of veterinarians, biologists and field assistants, all committed to maintaining the well-being of the animal.
We talked to Marcos Brito and Miguel Monteiro who make up the team to tell you how the program is organized to take care of the jaguars and visitors.
Check it out below!
Unique behavior jaguars
The researchers tell us that in Mamirauá, there is a very high density of jaguars. It is estimated that every 100 km², approximately 10 animals with a unique behavior live.
It is an umbrella species, its conservation guarantees the protection of countless other species that coexist with the jaguar in the enormous areas that they need to survive.
The Mamirauá jaguars have adapted to the flood pulse (which floods the entire reserve for 3 to 4 months a year), leading an arboreal and semi-aquatic life during this period. The jaguar is a top predator species, it plays a fundamental role in the ecosystem in which it operates, regulating the populations of prey and small predators through ecological interactions.
They are able to live, feed, reproduce and care for their young in the treetops and swimming among them.
“Being a top predator and with such unique characteristics in the region, studying its movement, ecology and behavior is essential to subsidize conservation practices for the species in the floodplain.”
Animal welfare in the collaring process
Collars are placed on jaguars during the flood season at the beginning of the year. As the rivers rise, less land becomes available, which increases the likelihood that the jaguars will pass through where the traps were installed.
In a grueling routine for the team, the traps are monitored every 4 hours to ensure the animal spends as little time as possible in the snare. Despite all precautions, due to the movement of the animal, it is possible that swelling occurs in the paw that is attached to the loop. This alteration is already expected and solved through the application of specific medicine in the affected region.
“In addition, the traps are built and installed taking into account the behavior and strength of the jaguars. Each loop has a shock absorber mechanism, which reduces the impact of the animal's attempts to escape, as well as another mechanism that allows the loop to follow the jaguar's movement 360 degrees. This allows the jaguar to spin and jump without getting hurt.”
The researcher and veterinarian, Louise Maranhão, leads all the work, monitoring the vital parameters and general health of the animal throughout the process. His care also extends to the study of the occurrence of pathogens of origin in domestic animals that occasionally affect captured jaguars.
Tourism as a sensitizer to the preservation of the jaguar
When the flood arrives, usually in June, the monitoring of jaguars captured inside the flooded forest begins, using canoes.
Only during this period is it possible for visitors to participate, which is when the jaguars are already using the treetops to rest, hunt and reproduce.
The tourist activity in the Reserve, through Uakari Lodge, generates direct economic benefits for the local communities.
As is the case with the Jaguar Expedition tour package, which takes tourists to observe the jaguars that are monitored by the research group, it makes it possible to increase the income that is passed on to the communities.
“A study carried out by the research group concluded that in communities where tourism takes place, people are more tolerant of the presence of jaguars and have more positive attitudes towards the species. In view of the objective of promoting the social development of these communities, it is in the interest of the Mamirauá Institute to understand these conflicting interactions between people and jaguars to guarantee the quality of life of the communities and the long-term conservation of the species.”
“In this way, tourism activity not only contributes to improving the quality of life of local communities, but also helps in the conservation of jaguars by improving relations between jaguars and local residents.”
Miguel and Marcos indicated reading to understand the behavior of jaguars in the region, described by Emiliano Ramalho and collaborators in 2021, through this link: https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ecy.3286.
Check out this and other programs here, hope to see you soon :)