Ocelots ID’s and thanks!

As some will remember we still with nameless jaguars and ocelots. We decided to honor those who are helping to support our efforts. Here are some of the new individuals recorded by our camera traps:






Pirjo I,






and Kristian!

Dear friends, please, accept this tribute as a huge THANK YOU!!!




The return of the jedis

After a while on the bush and in the rush here we are again to share with you our struggle to survive and attempts to promote wild cat species survival in Pontal. Many things happened, passing by two expeditions tracking jaguars, pumas, ocelots and their prey in Mato-Grosso-do-Sul State, the National Mammalogy Meeting, camera review at Pontal and the Nine Inch Nails tour been canceled on South America. How could they do this to us??? Terrible lie…

We are really grateful to your help supporting our work. Each donation, no matter how much, is important to us to keep it going. Pirjo I, Kristian, Angelica, J.B., Wanda and my dear Sheryl, thank you very much! Thank you all for your support!


From left: Laury Cullen, Dênis Sana and Kauê Abreu.

See you tomorrow!

Fernando, Laury, Dênis and Kauê


Dear friends,

It has been difficulty to come last days. We are in intense field activities and promise to bring good news soon! Tomorrow I am living in an expedition to another jaguar study site in Mato-Grosso-do-Sul state. I will be without any kind of communication with the “external world”. Well… sometimes we can get cell phone signal on the top of the water reservoir. If it works I will try to connect. Wish luck to our team! Hope to bring good news and lots of adventures from the field soon!




Ocelots do not have 9 lives… unfortunately

First of all, I would like to thanks to Wanda, Sheryl and Pirjo who did donate to our project and are helping to support our work.

Thank you a lot for your help!

We are in intense field activities, what is troubling us to post more frequently.

To work with endangered species conservation is a challenge per se, but sometimes we need to deal with some surprises – not the good kind of. Yesterday we was on the way to the forest fragment Tucano when we saw an animal killed by a car. An ocelot…


…when we saw an animal killed by a car. An ocelot…

Of course it is terrible to see any kind of animal killed by cars in roads, but this one was difficulty to deal. It takes one or two minutes for me to focus my mind and starts to “work properly”. After all we are humans and are definitely working on it because we love to do it, so I think we can request the right to get upset and sad in see an awesome wildcat, top predator, millions of years in evolution there just laying in a road as a vulture next meal. 🙁

It was an sub-adult male, probably dispersing trying to fix his own territory. We get some basic information and, after a double check on my license from the Environmental Government Agency allowing me to do it, we get the carcass to a biopsy and collection of biological samples.

…we get some basic information…

After all it will give us important information on health, genetics and diet from the specie on the region. Cássio Peterka, veterinarian, collect the samples, which will be sent to Universities and the bank of biological samples of CENAP/IBAMA – Research National Center for Natural Predators Conservation.

We have a lot of work to do if we still wanting these animals around for the next generations.

See you soon…

What the bleep do we do with $15.00???

Dear friends, yesterday I went to Presidente Prudente – the “regional capital” of Pontal do Paranapanema – 100 Km far from Teodoro Sampaio. In my backpack was the last 35 film rolls from Ponte Branca and Seis R that I sent to be processed. This is the best part of the work with cameras: you never know what will came!!! In the mean time I get the opportunity to deal with personal stuff at the city. During the hike I did started to wonder – as usual – on the blog and next post. I did remember then that it just reach 5.000 views from people in all continents! It is not too much compared with other blogs, indeed there are blogs that reach it in fifteen days. The point is: from the beginning we never realize how wide-ranging it could be!

Then another point – a not so nice one – came to my mind: it had been a great tool on public awareness and conservation spread – at least, I like to believe in it – but we still really needy on the donations issue. In five months we get one $50.00 donation (thanks again Theresa!).

In globalization times it is not difficulty to perceive how the stock market is affecting in a bad way all levels of economy around the world. Maybe that’s the reason! Economic recession! Hummm… Is it? Thinking more, I starts to realize: $15.00 is too much??? Then came the question…

– What the bleep* do we do with $15.00/month???

You know, things price vary a lot from place to place and my effort to realize the price of some stuff it was useless. I asked, then, for help. The real question was: How many stuff that we do not really need and, despite of that, we do buy along the month with $15.00? We did a list with ten items:

01 – 03 Starbucks Coffee late. If you try Brazilian or Colombian coffee you will agree with me that this can not be called coffee… 😛

02 – 03 Magazines. Why not to get up to date by internet?

03 – 15 Newspapers.
Again, why not to get up to date by internet?

04 – 02 pints of Guinness. No comments on this (you are forgived!)

05 – 15 I-Tunes songs. Don’t tell to anybody (it’s illegal), but you can find almost everything to download for free!

06 – Two movie tickets. You deserve it!

07 – 7 subway passes. I do prefer “Underground”!!! Mind the gap! Anyway, the amount change between places but you get the point.

08 – One baseball hat. Corse you don’t buy a baseball hat every month. Unless you are a collector or have some kind of obssession. If you stop and think, will you find another stuff that is not exactly necessary and so you could safe? Want to bet?

09 – 3 gallons of gasoline. How many kilometers or miles you do with this? If you try, can you safe 3 gallons/month?

10 – 4 ice cream cones. Summer, sunny days… You can substitute these by another items every seasons. The point is: Is it really difficulty to safe in this issue?

Point made, so let’s talk about what WE do.

Every month we have approximately 35 camera traps working in forest fragments in the Pontal do Paranapanema region. This is an important non-invasive tool that allow us to gather information on demography, biology, ecology and natural history not only from wild cats but also from their prey and general mammal community.

These sampling efforts are part of the wide conservation program which we have been discussing here in every post.

To setup and maintain each camera in the field we use every month:

3 batteries Size C: $6.50,
2 batteries Size AA: $3.00
1 Film roll with 36 frames 400ASA: $5.50

So, if you can make some calculations and at the end you think you are able to give up from some stuff – or if you already are able to do it without give up of anything – please, help us to keep going with our work. It probably will not make a great change in your life, but if some of you – let’s say 35 – donate $15.00/month we can guarantee the continuation of our camera trap sampling.

Please, think on it!

We are in field companion so I don’t know exactly when I will be able to post.

Keep it coming!

See you soon!

*(Sorry about the “bleep”, if you don’t understand the analogy with “What the bleep do we know?” nevermind)

Jaguar Corridors

A genetic bank, with 3 thousand seedlings of 100 species of Atlantic Forest trees, was planted last Friday in a collective effort of IPÊ, volunteers, students and land owners.
All the seedlings was obtained in partnership with CESP (Electric Company of São Paulo) and the objective is to maintain, in the same place, a large diversity of species, to preserve Atlantic Forest regional diversity. “We will have an area to collect seeds to our reforestation projects, it is an alive Atlantic Forest museum.” explains Laury Cullen, IPÊ – Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas researcher.

Genetic resources bank with 3 thousand seedlings from Atlantic Forest species.

This bank will improve the reforestation programs that IPÊ has promoted and have already reforested 500 ha (5 Km2) only in Pontal do Paranapanema. The firsts seeds from the last action can starts to be collected in three to four years.
The planted area has 2 ha and was purchased by IPÊ thanks to Programa Petrobras Ambiental (Petrobras Environmental Program) sponsorship. In this area, close to the Paranapanema river, will be constructed also the Centro de Capacitação em Meio Ambiente da Petrobras (Petrobras Environment Capacitating Center), a reference place to agroecology, water conservation and environmental education. It will attend students, teachers, stake holders and technician from all over the country.

Source: ABIDES
Photos: Fernando Lima

I do not remember the last time I had the same sensation that I felt last Friday helping planting the seedlings. They use to say that all men need to write a book, have a child and plant a tree. Well… actually, we did plant a small forest!!! To know that you can come back in some years and see a small forest knowing that you help to create it with your own hands is priceless. I felt a mix o idealism and belief, the same feelings that bring me to work on conservation but – unfortunately – is, sometimes, so easy to forgot in the rush or even getting discouraged and hopeless in the middle of so much destruction and stupidity all around the world.

Dear friends, this is part of a great effort to promote landscape connectivity between forest fragments and ultimately connect biodiversity. We are doing this using our jaguar and ocelots data by understanding how these species “sees” or “perceives” the landscape. But is not easy and we need all help we can get. Even if you cannot be here personally and help us to plant or to gather jaguars and ocelots data, you still have the opportunity to help us by donating to the project. Please, think on it.

See you on Friday!

The hunt to save jaguars – Complete Issue

“There is no bigger thrill then when you shoot a jaguar” says hunter Carlos Roberto Platero. He follow a trail in one of the last portions of Mata Atlântica preserved in the Ivinhema, southern part of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. The dogs are Platero’s eyes in the forest. They are trained to sniff out and surround jaguars. They continue to walk until they are interrupted by a sequence of howls. The hunter then places the rifle on his back and disappears down the trail in the direction of the racket of howls. In the meters ahead, a jaguar is found on the limb of a tree. It has been surrounded and trapped by the dogs. Platero aims the rifle at the animal and one shot is all that is necessary to bring the animal down. “The hunt is over”, says.

The hunt captured a female jaguar, the third largest felid in the world. “We catch Tina”, says Laury Cullen, a forestry engineer from the IPÊ – Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (Institute of Ecological Research). “We had met this jaguar before”. Laury and Platero are old friends and they have captured over than 30 jaguars together with the aid of the dogs. However, they are not traditional hunters. They do not kill animals. The shoot was a paralyzing dart that delivers an anesthesia to the animal. Tina is only sleeping.

Moving to the other side: from hunt to conservation. Carlos and his “jaguar dogs” (onceiros).

The jaguar hunt is part of a program that has been changing the way to create forest reserves in Brazil. Researchers now are able to follow the animals before drawing maps of the best areas for protection. The capture gives time for the team to place a radio collar around the neck of the jaguar that will emit radio signals to allow for the monitoring of the movement of the animal. Tina is one of the animals that is monitored from distance. The objective of capturing this particular jaguar was to change the equipment from the collar that had been installed three years ago. The data retrieved from the radio collar that is passed to a researcher’s computer reveals the paths followed by the felids. “It is as if we are asking them what are the most important regions for them to live”, says Cullen.

“Thanks to this research, we are able to understand that jaguars don’t only live in the shelter of the core of forests, but venture out quite often. Therefore, it is not unusual to see jaguars walking close to farms and cities.” With this information, the researchers are beginning to find error with the traditional way in which protected areas were chosen for creation. “The original methodology resulted in the formation of forest reserves that were isolated. True islands were protected that were very rich in biodiversity, but were very detached from other forest fragments”. The lack of a linkage between areas has been recognized as a major obstacle in the reproduction of animals and plants. “The limited genetic exchange in small populations can result in waves of extinction. Or worse, can increase the incidences of road kills in between reserves when an animal decides to migrate from one fragment to another in search of partners.”

The Jaguar as Landscape Detectives project has already helped to form a corridor of 2.500 km of forest that goes from São Paulo to Paraguay

“When we saw the maps resulting from our studies we decided to discard definitely the old school practice of create natural reserves by studies made inside offices”, notes Cullen. The new model proposed by IPÊ follows the concept of natural corridors, which are areas beyond the borders of the forest in which the animals move – including farms and edges located near roads and cities in many regions. It has taken more then ten years of research to arrive at the ideal model. As a result, the monitoring of jaguars has produced one of the largest national programs to save Mata Atlântica, the most threatened ecosystem in the country.

The first task of the researchers was to trace the continuous area that makes up the remainder of the forest throughout an area of a 2.500 km expanse. The forest corridor begins in São Paulo and follows down to the Brazil and Paraguay border. Some fragments are already conservation areas, while others must be created to piece areas together, nominated as the Biodiversity Corridor of the Upper Paraná. The concern for jaguars generates added benefits – it helps to preserve the vegetation that protects the resources of lower south and southeaster regions. The conservation acts will guarantee the water supply to southern cities where almost 55% of the Brazilian population currently lives. The research that IPÊ carries out helps to preserve other species of animals and plants as well. “We choose to place the radio-collars on the jaguars because they represent the top of the ecological food chain. By knowing where these felids circulate, you additionally know where their prey – such as peccaries and tapirs – do”, says Cullen.

Once the obstacle of connecting fragments and understanding how to conserve jaguars had been carried out, a new problem arose. How can the survival of jaguars in the region be guaranteed when they are constantly under threat from a growing human population? The first obstacle that faced was overcoming the resistance of farmers to the project. Pastoralists are historical enemies of the jaguar – after all they invade pastures and attack cattle. A jaguar can devour up to 40 one-year old calves per year. To prevent attack on their stocks, pastoralists often contract hunters. However – it was the arrival of agriculturalists to the area that transformed the landscape, adding cattle to a jaguars list of possible prey. The extent of deforestation that arose from the formation of pastures caused small animals that could not easily disperse to other fragments to disappear, shifting cattle to being a protein source for these large felids. “I have already hunted and killed many jaguars for pastoralists in the Pantanal”, says Platero. “But now I only work with the researchers – I peruse the hunt with the same thrill even though the animal is not killed”. The challenge for the IPÊ team is to not only change the conscience of the hunter, but also the land owners in the region.

How does one convince the farmers that the jaguars are not a threat? “At the start I thought about giving up. To place radio collars on the jaguars seemed like so easier”, says Cullen. Luckily for the jaguar, the scientists had an idea to make a pact with the cattle owners. The researchers started to plant trees for the pastoralists. A great majority of the landowners in the South and Southeastern area have destroyed much of the forest illegally, and now are required by law to reforest, or face the fines and restrictions of agricultural credits. To help these farmers reforest was the focus of the partnership. In exchange, farmers would pledge to no longer kill jaguars. The agreement has been solidified and is a great success because it made economic sense – replanting 1 hectare of forest can cost up to eight thousand Reais (US$ 5,000.00), while a year-old calf only three hundred (US$ 185.00). “In the end, the damage that jaguars inflict on cattle is small”, notes Osmar Cirino Lopes a rancher at Ponte Branca Farm in Teodoro Sampaio- “It was a good agreement on both sides”.

Laury sowing a new forest corridor on Pontal on a communitarian event.

This partnership has already changed the landscape of the Pontal do Paranapanema, where the project began. The old picture of degraded pastures and deserted fields is now being replaced by hues of green. The first spots of new forests can be seen now in the region. The population of jaguars has been increasing. “It has people accusing me to bring jaguars from other areas in Pontal!!!” notes Cullen.

Research also happens at the sites of agricultural settlements. In the 1980’s, there was a big push in the region for agricultural settlement that attracted thousands of people. In less than two months, settlements were popping up all around the last reserve in the Atlantic Forest: the Morro do Diabo State Park. “I thought that if our approach did not appeal to the people in these agricultural settlements, that all of our preservation efforts would be in vain and not effective”, says Cullen. “Without getting orientation they would be the first to knock the trees down to make room for agriculture”. The beginning of the dialogue with locals was marked with discordance. “Many people felt as if the project was seeking to keep on eye on their practices”. Today, many of the settlements are integrating the project. Jose Santiago was one of the first: “I have a little problem with the jaguars, but my need to have trees in my lot wins out”, says Jose showing the forest planted on his land with the aid of IPÊ.

The project has also changed the life of settled sons. They are responsible by the seedlings that will be planted on farms and other settlements. In ten years, more than 2 million trees have be planted in the region – this is the equivalent of the area of 30 Ibirapuera Park, one of the greatest in São Paulo. Luís Soares is one of the youths that helps out on the project. He has been inspired by the success of the program, and was just approved in a Biology undergraduate course. “The change that I have witnessed has made this the best work I have done so far”, he affirms.

By add a social component with this research project for jaguars, the researchers have commanded international recognition. Cullen and his IPÊ team had received the Whitley Gold Award from the Royal Geographical Society. Princess Anne, who delivered the prize, also came visit IPÊ headquarters during a trip to Brazil in 2007. Cullen received additional recognition by gaining the Rolex Awards for Conservation of Nature. The money (US$ 5 thousand) was for the project in the Pontal. The watch today, is safe in his house. “It is too chic to be used for jaguar hunts”, says Cullen. “But it is a symbol of the success of our efforts”.

Researchers have found seven spotted jaguar in the Caatinga, a region where they were once considered extinct.

Similar projects have started to come about across the country. The newest study is in the Caatinga in the northeast. In this region, the spotted jaguars were considered extinct. Today, seven individual cats have been identified. “We are monitoring these individuals to understand how we connect areas of the Caatinga. It is a chance to save this vegetation in the country”, says Ronaldo Gonçalves Morato, head of the National Center of Research and Conservation of Natural Predators of Ibama. In the Pantanal, the jaguars also can aid in the dream to conserve the area. In the North there is an area protected by a national Park in Mato Grosso, but the other half in Mato Grosso do Sul is not. By following the jaguars, the researchers want to identify the optimal conservation units that would cover their most critical habitat in the Pantanal. “We want to create a good natural corridor that enters the Pantanais, a mesoregion of Mato Grosso, to protect the entire region”, says Sandra Cavalcanti, a biologist from the Panthera Foundation. All of the research uses the capture-recapture models with camera traps and monitoring signals from radio-collared jaguars. The same equipment in Ivinhema is deployed for the jaguars in this region. “I never thought that shooting a jaguar would go so far beyond the pure fun of a hunt”, Platero says.


What is being done to protect these animals and the regions where they live

puma01.JPG PUMA, COUGAR or SUÇUARANA (Puma concolor)
This species has a large distribution and is adaptable to degraded environments. All of the national registrations of attacks on human beings have been by pumas. The last occurred in the 1980’s, in a village of scientists in Siderúrgica Vale do Rio Doce, in Pará.

onca01.JPG BLACK JAGUAR (Panthera onca)
Although there is a color difference, this species is the same as the spotted jaguar. The change in coloration is due to a genetic mutation. Due to their small population size this mutation has become fixed producing jaguars that are black in color in Pontal do Paranapanema.

jaguar02.JPG JAGUAR (Panthera onca)
This is the third largest felid in the world, behind tigers and lions. It can measure up to 2.1 meters in length and weigh up to 135 kilograms. They are a species of cat that are able to successfully kill their prey with the force of a bite into the skull. Like the lion the jaguar will emit a roar. In 2006, seven of these felids in the Caatinga were rediscovered- the animal was once considered extinct in the region.


Researchers monitor the animals in order to define protected areas

1. Mata Atlântica Corridor
It is the biggest national project to connect fragments in Mata Atlântica. It follows from Pontal do Paranapanema, in São Paulo, all the way to Paraguay.

2. Caatinga Corridor
The re-discovery of jaguars promoted the protection of this vegetation and the creation of the National Park of Boqueirão da Onça in Bahia.

3. Pantanal Corridor
The Panthera Foundation bought an area in Mata Groso to promote the connection of two parks. The idea is to expand this initiative to the Pantanal.

4. Norte do Mato Grosso
In an region where the destruction of Amazônia has accelerated, monitoring can help to define priority areas for conservation

5. Calha do Rio Amazonas
This area still has an extent of connected forest. In this region, all jaguar species move freely.

Source: Revista Época
Translation: Kaitlin Baird and Fernando Lima

See you on Wednesday!

The hunt to save jaguars

And back home again! Time to update everything! We just arrived and received good news: one article on our work with jaguars was published on Época, a very important Brazilian magazine. The article “A caçada para salvar onças: Como uma pesquisa de preservação de felinos virou um dos maiores projetos para salvar florestas do país” (The hunt to save jaguars: how a research for felid conservation became one of the largest project s to save forests on the country) writed by Juliana Arini.


The hunt to save jaguars on Época.

Photo published on the article. Landscape Detectives Team. From left to right (kneed) Dênis Sana – Pró-Carnívoros researcher, Cheiro (in memorian) – field assistent, Thiago – veterinarian, Pedro – field assistent. On back: Laury and I.

It starts talking about Carlos Roberto Platero. In the seventies and eighties, Carlos used to be hired by farmers in Mato Grosso do Sul to kill the jaguars that predated cattle in the region. He killed more than 200 felines in his career as a hunter. However, today he is on our side, helping IPÊ and Pró-Carnívoros, as well as many other research institutions all over Brazil, in ecological hunts to capture jaguars and pumas to attach radio-collars to them and monitor these animals for scientific purposes.

Carlos during jaguar capture companion at Ivinhema State Park, Mato Grosso do Sul State.

His knowledge and experience are incomparable and – to me – he is a living legend. I read about Carlos when I still was in high school, and the story of that hunter who came to help researchers to catch jaguars thrilled me. Many years after the boring daily classes at that high school in Minas Gerais, in July 2004, I found myself running beside him and his dogs to capture a female jaguar and change its radio collar. By the way, last Monday (July, 7) was the fourth anniversary of my very first jaguar capture.

Carlos and I on Ivinhema in my first jaguar capture for radio tagging.

Carlos’ skills to follow tracks and his knowledge of these felines are matchless.

Laury and Carlos tracking jaguars.

Many people think it is incongruent to have so much admiration for old hunters such as Carlos and Sasha Siemel (a Ukrainian who became well-known for killing jaguars in Pantanal with a kind of spear called zagaia). However, these men come from a different historical moment, far different from modern safaris.

Sasha Siemel, author of Tigrero.

The article continues talking on our efforts at Upper Paraná Corridor interviewing Laury and explaining the Landscape Detectives approach. It shows a map with five main efforts to promote jaguar conservation in Brazil. The Upper Paraná Corridor (our work in partnership with several institutions), the Caatinga Corridor on the northeast promoted by the governmental CENAP (National Research Centre for Natural Predators Conservation), the Pantanal Corridor promoted by the Panthera Foundation, the North Mato-Grosso region and the Amazonas River.

As this blog, Época is not a scientific magazine. However, if we have in mind that it is one the most read magazine all around the country we can have an idea of how important it can be to promote public awareness on jaguar conservation. After the release of the article we are receiving tons of e-mails asking questions regarding jaguar conservation and reporting hunt and predation problems.

There still a lot of work to do to promote these amazing animals conservation. Please, do not underestimate the power of your help through small donations in this blog.


See you on Monday!

On agoutis, pumas and the hard reality of be a brazilian researcher…

Between an activity and other I still feeding my Camera Data Base with the partial results of last film rolls processed. The project uses a Data Base especially designed for camera traps by Mathias Tobler from Andes to Amazon Biodiversity Program. What a wonderful tool! It takes a while to feed, but when it’s done, is possible to obtain easily from the same place all kind of capture frequency from each specie. Also, it prepare the data to run on statistical software as StimateS, Capture, Mark, etc. I want to share with you today some of the nicest photos from Ponte Branca that I was working today:

A giant-anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla).

It was quite a surprise! Giant-anteaters usually are more frequently founded on Cerrado and open areas, but we are with several records of the specie on our sampled Atlantic Forest fragments.


The azara’s agouti (Dasyprocta azarae).


As I write in the previous post: to promote predators conservation is vital to gather information on their prey. The azara’s agouti is another important felid prey on neotropics. At Pontal the specie was heavily hunted – and still been in some areas. Despite that, we are gathering good frequencies of capture.

A puma “posing” to a photo.

The SEE-U is definitely finished now with the departure of the TA Kaitlyn. Hope she arrive in safety at home. Thanks for everything Kaitlyn!!! As Chuck Palahniuk says: “Nothing is static…” and we at IPÊ are in another general meeting! I am counting the hours to come back home at Pontal and return to my normal activities! Need to confess that I am a little discouraged since one of my proposals submitted to an international organization – which I don’t want to cite the name by ethical reasons – was denied. This was a real important one… It’s a cruel world to beginners and with this one it sums 11 proposals denied since 2006. I am work hard on it and quite sure, which is confirmed by several researchers, on the quality of the project. Let’s see the next two that are to be evaluated. Despite some resources from the program, I need to raise funds to guarantee my own research line on small cats, but I am starting to really worry about it. Discouraging, really discouraging, but the show must go on and I will never quit.

I will travel tomorrow and am not sure if I will be able to post on Friday. As soon as I get access to internet again I will send news!


On ocelots, anteaters and armadillos…

Despite malfunction in two cameras we still increase our database on wildcats in Pontal and other important species. This is the first time we record a lesser-anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla) on our surveys.

The lesser-anteater.

As the cameras make no distinction between species, we are collecting information on mammal species abundance such as nine-banded-armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), important felid prey on neotropical forests. To promote predators conservation is vital to gather information on their prey.



Does anybody risk to guess which ocelot is this one at Ponte Branca?

The SEE-U Brazil Companion finished last Friday. Was a great experience!

SEE-U 2008

I am trying to post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, sometimes is not possible, but I do still trying to keep you updated on our activities! Keep it coming!

See you on Wednesday!