Category Archives: Introduction

Meet the team: Fernando Lima

My name is Fernando Lima. I am a biologist and actually doing my Master graduate with my childhood dream: to work with wild cats. I am evaluating ocelot’s demography, home range and movement patterns through forest patches in the fragmented landscape of Pontal do Paranapanema region. I am working in the “Landscape Detectives” project since 2003 and I hope to increase the knowledge on this and other cats in Pontal and Upper Parana region to support Atlantic Forest conservation through corridor reforestation. I really like to read books written by naturalists that came to Brazil in the XIX century and their diaries. My hope here is that you enjoy this blog on our efforts to promote these fascinating animals conservation as I enjoy reading these earlier adventurers reports. Became part of our team! Welcome on board!


Me and my very first jaguar capture in 2004: the female “Livia”.

Meet the team: Laury Cullen Jr., PhD

I am Laury Cullen, scientific research coordinator and conservation biologist with IPÊ. I obtained my Masters in Conservation Biology at the University of Florida, Gainsville and my Ph.D. at the University of Kent, UK. I had focused my research on the ecology of large mammals, applying conservation biology principles to the restoration of fragmented landscapes and community work. I have published over 40 papers and have received international recognition through the 2006 Rolex Award for Enterprise and the 2002 Whitley Gold Award. I am also a Fellow of the ASHOKA Foundation for social entrepreneurs. I have worked in the area for over a decade and have developed a very positive relationship with local people and landowners, as well as with local government for good policies in biodiversity conservation in Brazil.

Laury and the jaguar

Laury and the female jaguar “Tina” captured for radio tagging.

Jaguars and ocelots as Landscape Detectives: Background

Forest Fragmentation – Most of the Interior Atlantic Forest which remains survives in small pockets in the Pontal do Paranapanema, a poor rural area west of São Paulo inhabited mainly by traditional rural communities. The IPÊ – Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas began its work in the region in 1997. While some of the forest is protected within the 350 Km2 Morro do Diabo State Park, beyond its borders the forest is under threat from sugar plantation, cattle ranching and rural settlements. Population growth in the region has also increased demand for charcoal, leading locals to replace natural forest with fast growing eucalyptus and subsistence agriculture. Two hundred families live inside designated protected areas. Private land is generally subjected to different agricultural activities, with the size of properties varying from 10 to 200 ha (small farms), 200-1.000 ha for larger farms.

Forest fragmentation

Forest fragmentation process on the Upper Paraná Region (source Di Bitetti et al. 2003).

Loss of ecological integrity – Most forest patches are now isolated and too small to maintain ecological integrity without conservation action. Without enough contiguous forest in which to hunt wild prey, jaguars and ocelots increasingly predate domestic animals leading to increasing persecution. Deforestation rates remain high, leading to increased isolation of these species populations, increasing their vulnerability. People compete with jaguars and ocelots for prey, and they are frequently shot by ranchers despite protective legislation.

Biodiversity benefits – IPÊ has developed the concept of using jaguars and ocelots as “Landscape detectives” to inform and feed into the process of reforestation. Information about how these species use the remaining forest is used to plan and manage reserves and large interconnected eco-regions. This cost-effective approach benefits all species that share jaguar and ocelot forest habitat, which as well as these species includes: the critically endangered black-lion-tamarin, lowland tapir, peccaries, macaws and many endangered species.


Black-lion-tamarin, endangered specie that still occur in the Pontal Region. 

Community – local people are central to the project and are project executors as well as beneficiaries. A landscape level approach is being applied, combining research and biodiversity management with community involvement and habitat restoration to empower local people to improve their conditions of living whilst also protecting their forest.  We expanded this community based tree planting program, which will result in over 1.8 million new trees over the life of the project. With IPÊ we are now applying an exciting regional strategy with support from local decision makers to plant forest corridors between remaining forest fragments, which will benefit from this research with jaguars and ocelots. IPÊ has spent the past decade coordinating efforts to conserve a large part of the remaining inland Atlantic Forest in the state of São Paulo by involving farmers, landowners, sugar plantations and local government. The project is currently undergoing expansion, linking forest fragments with new forested wildlife corridors, agroforestry benefit zones and helping over 400 families to cultivate 120 square kilometres of degraded farmland.


Agroforestry system to promote connectivity of forest patches

Jaguar and ocelots as Landscape Detectives: Summary

Mention conservation in Brazil, and most people think of the Amazon and its rapidly diminishing rainforest. There is, however, another endangered ecosystem in Brazil that demands even more urgent attention. The Atlantic forest – Mata Atlântica – once covered 1.2 million Km2, over 12 % of Brazil. Bordering the Atlantic coast it stretched up to 1.000 Km inland. Today, only about 80.000 Km2 – around 7% of the original forest – remain. This project builds on existing study of the jaguar Panthera onca and ocelot Leopardus pardalis to improve conservation of the remaining Atlantic Forest at Upper Paraná Region and create a situation where local farmers, their livestock and wildcats can coexist. Jaguars are excellent indicator species; its role as a top predator and need for expansive areas of habitat with a good prey base, mean that its presence can be equated with conservation that is working. Ocelots increase the Landscape Detective Model by providing information on smallest forest fragments where jaguars are absent. By studying these species conservationists can learn how these cats use the landscape, where people and jaguars are likely to come into conflict and which areas should be prioritised for conservation. The main goal of this long-term project is to use jaguars and ocelots as landscape detectives to develop a network of wild core-reserves for the Upper Paraná Region in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. The conservation model, once developed has the potential to be expanded throughout other areas of Brazil for effective forest conservation with maximum benefits for biodiversity.

Key Aims:

– Obtain further data on jaguar and ocelot density, home range, habitat selection, population genetics and demography in the upper parts of the Paraná River to fill the information void;

– Use data to map the most used dispersal routes and pathways in the Paraná Corridor network to identify priority areas for conservation;

– Engage stakeholders and involve them in conservation of wildlife and forest;

– Disseminate best practice for Wildcats Conservation throughout South America;

– Inform Brazil’s national conservation policy though institutions;

– Establish new reserves along the study area, involving private landowners next to existing protected areas as part of the government’s Private Natural Heritage Reserve network;

– Contribute to development of a tri-national corridor project between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay using the “Landscape Detectives” approach to secure a future for jaguars, ocelots and wildife.