Jaguar with photographic appetite chews and plays with cameras; see video

Peter and Sapeca love camera lenses. But the pieces don’t last long in its claws.

The jaguar Peter, on a morning in January of this year, was attracted by a small rectangular box near the base of a tree. He approached, investigated and began to “play” with the box and the camera inside it — which would not survive the feline attention.

At another time, this evening, another prey was located by Peter. He threw himself to the ground and, with claws and teeth —which are part of the most powerful bite among cats—, plucked another camera from the trunk of the tree and chewed it while still lying down.

Not satisfied , looked around, among the trees of the Iguaçu National Park, the largest place with one of the main jaguar populations in the Atlantic Forest, and found a possible next victim. He approached and the video was interrupted.

There are already five cameras in Peter’s —somewhat destroyed— collection.

Sapeca, also with a filmic appetite, threw himself on the ground next to a tree with a camera and, with his big paws, he made a show, face up.

“I had never seen this habit of destroying cameras”, says Felipe Feliciani, analyst of conservation by WWF-Brasil, which highlights Peter’s dedication to the destruction of the machines.

According to Feliciani, when entering the forest to install camera traps or change the machines’ memory cards, the researchers they avoid using creams and perfumes precisely to avoid scent trails as much as possible.

There is no explanation for the taste of these two ounces for cameras, especially considering that the machinery in question is already thought to be discreet, no emission, in general, of glares or noises. The idea behind the cameras is to get documentation of animals with the least amount of interference possible. They are normally activated by movement in their field of observation and can remain recording for a certain time material that can later be used for studies.

“It is not strange to record the animals sniffing the cameras”, says Feliciani . “Some animals cling and go to the last consequences.”

Each trap costs around R$ 2.250 and they are placed in pairs in the forest, according to the specialist.

A nice loss given by Peter, a name, however, with credit to spare. The jaguar was named after Peter G. Crawshaw Jr., a reference researcher in the field of jaguars who died in April this year due to Covid.

The account of camera traps destroyed by jaguars did not comes close to the damage that is usually caused by hunters who steal or break the cameras to, of course, not leave evidence.

Hunting, together with deforestation, roadkill and fragmentation of territory, is one of the biggest threats to jaguar populations in the Iguaçu region. In the park, specifically, retaliation hunting —to animals that, for example, ate some animal from a herd raised on nearby properties—is the great threat.

A recent case exemplifies how this type incident can happen. In November, the jaguar Indira and her one-year-old cub Aritana, in a hunting exercise, ended up killing 125 of the 174 flamingos that lived in the Parque das Aves, next to the Iguaçu National Park.

The good news is that, based on awareness-raising work, developed by organizations such as Projeto Onças do Iguaçu, in the countless municipalities and farms around the park, the situation of the cats has improved, compared to what it was before, when it was thought that the species would become extinct in the region.

In the last second ( 29), international jaguar day, the new edition of the biannual census of jaguars in the Iguaçu region was launched. thanks to more than 200 camera traps scattered throughout the area —one of the possible uses of these remote cameras is population estimation.

On the Brazilian side, an average of 24 individuals is estimated. In 2009, the estimate was only . Considering the more than 564 thousand hectares of mapped forest, between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay (which for the first time is part of the monitoring), the population of jaguars in the place is 84 to 106 animals (average of 84).

Although the number is considerably higher than the first records made (from 29 to 76 individuals), it represents a drop in relation to the census of 2009, which registered from 76 to 106 specimens (average of 84).

“For such a small population, any animal that gets lost is very bad “, says Feliciani.

According to the WWF expert, the variation is small and does not necessarily represent a decrease in fact. The population reduction will only be confirmed if the next census confirms the situation and returns to show fewer jaguars in Iguaçu. At this moment, it is considered that there is a stabilization of the animal population.

Anyway, the situation is still far from being comfortable. The survey area, according to Feliciani, could house up to 250 jaguars. If, in fact, there is a stabilization or fall in the population, it will be necessary to understand what happened to the brake on growth.

Jaguars are in the category of vulnerable, according to the classification of the ICMBio’s (Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation) threatened species red book.

But in the Atlantic Forest, the situation of the species is considered critically endangered, the classification prior to extinction.

Clues

If you’ve come this far and are wondering how researchers know it’s Peter, and not another jaguar interested in photography, the person in charge by destroying the cameras, the answer lies in the clues. Or rather, on the spots.

Each jaguar has a unique pattern of skin markings, known as rosettes (in the case of jaguars, the spots are circular and have one or more dark spots in the center ), which facilitates the identification of the pussies.

Long live Peter.

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