Jaguar Conservation in the Upper Parana Atlantic Forest

Geographical location:

Latin America/Caribbean > South America > Argentina

This picture was taken with camera trap in the first area surveyed: the Urugua-i Provincial Park and the Urugua-i Wildlife Reserve at the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest of Misiones in Argentina.
© Fundacion Vida Silvestre

Summary

The project aims to monitor jaguars and collect science-based information to develop a Population and Habitat Viability Analysis (PHVA) in the Upper Parana Atlantic Forest (UPAF) of Argentina.

The work will lead to the development of a management plan to guide conservation of the jaguar. The management plan is an important step in coordinating the efforts of different institutions to develop a coherent conservation strategy. To minimize human jaguar conflicts, it is important to provide information and gather public support for the implementation of the management plan. The project also includes a communications campaign.

Background

During the development of the Biodiversity Vision of the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest Ecoregion (UPAF), one of WWF’s global ecoregions, the jaguar was used as a focal species to design a biodiversity conservation landscape. WWF’s Action Plan for the UPAF includes monitoring of the jaguar population. This is important not only as a way to assess the conservation status of the jaguar (and an indirect assessment of the status of biodiversity), but also to validate the biodiversity conservation landscape and/or to suggest changes to its design and implementation.

With WWF’s support, and in partnership with scientific staff from the National Research Council of Argentina (CONICET) and the Laboratorio de Investigaciones Ecológicas de las Yungas (LIEY), University of Tucumán, the Jaguar Project was implemented in 2002.

Objectives

- Monitor the jaguar population.

- Develop a management plan for the jaguar population.

- Implement a public communications campaign.

Solution

1) Monitoring the jaguar population.
This part of the project is being implemented by scientific and technical staff from LIEY. A network of more than 150 volunteers from Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay has been established and is collecting information on jaguar presence and relative abundance. Using this participatory mechanism together with camera-trap surveys which provide density estimates of jaguars, a thorough population assessment is possible.

This basic information will allow key management decisions for the species to be made. The information to be gathered includes:
- Where are the last remaining jaguar sub-populations located?
- How many animals remain in each sub-population?
- What are the effect of different factors on the presence and abundance of jaguars? (e.g. poaching, jaguar prey base, competition from pumas, etc)
- How do jaguars use the landscape?

2) Development of a management plan for the jaguar population.
The jaguar has been legally declared a National Natural Monument in Argentina. This law gives a mandate to the National Parks Administration of Argentina (NPA) and to the National Secretary of Fauna and Flora (NSFF) to develop and implement a management plan for jaguars in Argentina.

In June 2004, the NPA and the NSFF organized, with support from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), a workshop to develop a management plan for jaguars in Argentina. At that meeting it was agreed that the jaguar population of the UPAF was to be used as a model to develop a management plan for jaguars across Argentina – currently distributed in the Northeast and Northwest areas of the country.

Staff from LIEY, Lincoln Park Zoo and IPE-Brazil committed to organize a technical workshop to develop a PHVA for the jaguar population of the UPAF. This PHVA workshop was held in July 2005 in Brasilia, with the participation of jaguar experts from different countries. The PHVA will provide a guide as to what should be done to ensure the long-term survival of jaguars in the UPAF and will indicate where conservation efforts and resources should be concentrated.

A second workshop will be organized in Misiones for the development of a population management plan. This workshop will bring together government officials and technicians from the NPA, the NSFF, the Ministry of Ecology of Misiones and other authorities from Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, to discuss how to develop and implement a management plan. The results of the PHVA will provide the most critical input, but the participation of local people is essential to develop a feasible and practical management plan. Thus, this workshop should engage the technical staff involved in the development of the PHVA (LIEY, IPE, Lincoln Park Zoo) and the staff that will implement the management plan (government officials and technicians, local NGOs, together with FVSA and WWF).

3) Implementation of a public communication campaign.
To enlist public support for the implementation of a management plan for jaguars in Misiones, it is very important to inform both the public and the decision makers about the status of this endangered jaguar population and about measures that will have to be implemented to revert present population trends. With support from the Species Action Fund, there are plans for a workshop in Misiones in 2005 to develop a communication plan and an alert system for problems with animals (jaguars that attack domestic animals), using the network of collaborators as a base for this alert system. This workshop will provide the input for the development of a large-scale public communication campaign in Misiones (where most of the remaining jaguar population is located) identifying the appropriated materials or activities for each audience.

Achievement

1) Launched a communications campaign across the Misiones Province (the range of the Atlantic Forest jaguar population in Argentina). The campaign invites the public, and particularly children, to preserve the jaguar, a unique natural and cultural value. The campaign message not only creates awareness on jaguars but also on other natural and cultural values of the region.

2) Collected solid scientific knowledge of the population status of jaguars in the Upper Parana Atlantic Forest, including information on population size, geographical distribution, relations to other competitor species and the spatial variability of prey availability. A jaguar population viability analysis was also developed. This scientific section of the project facilitates the design of the conservation actions to be taken in order to reverse the critical situation of jaguar in Misiones.

3) Representatives of the main government and private organizations of the region that work in biodiversity conservation, including the Misiones Ministry of Ecology and the Brazilian IBAMA, which are both the main law enforcement authorities, are working together and meeting regularly to develop a coherent conservation strategy for the recovery of the jaguars in the Upper Parana Atlantic Forest. Argentina and Brazil are sharing a jaguar conservation action plan.