Jaguar rear end as it walks past Sebastian Kohn’s camera trap last month.
A few months ago Sebastian Kohn’s camera trap at Manduriacu Reserve in western Ecuador had a close brush with a jaguar– so close that all we could see were some blurred black spots on a light background. It happened at night so there was no color either. Was this jaguar just passing through or was it a resident? Was it a healthy animal? We couldn’t tell. But this new video provides evidence that jaguars are regularly using the Manduriacu Reserve, and this one looks quite healthy. It is probably eating the Collared Peccaries that Sebastian has frequently recorded in his camera traps, such as these (which I’ve posted before):
Though jaguars have a wide distribution in Latin America and are not yet globally endangered, they are one of the first animals to disappear with human impacts. Jaguars are killed directly buy humans, but humans also hunt the jaguar’s prey species to local extinction. Large predators such as jaguars need very large home ranges, so they are also severely affected by habitat fragmentation, as deforestation leaves isolated forest patches that are too small to support viable populations of predator and prey.
In western Ecuador deforestation is extreme. We often drive for hours through endless banana and oil palm plantations without ever seeing a patch of native vegetation. Almost all of the lowland rainforest in western Ecuador is gone, and much of the foothill and cloud forest is also gone or severely fragmented. Based on satellite imagery, scientists now estimate that 90% of the original natural vegetation of western Ecuador has been removed. The effect of this is catastrophic for a large predator like a jaguar.
A recent study surveyed the Machalilla National Park in western Ecuador and concluded that the jaguar has been extirpated there. The four largest forest patches remaining in western Ecuador were also recently surveyed for jaguars and White-Lipped Peccary, by Zapata-Rios et al (2013). They used camera traps, field work, and interviews with local people. They only found evidence of jaguars in one of those four patches, the Cotocachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve. The density of jaguars recorded was very low;hey only captured nine independent jaguar photos in 2500 trap-nights. The authors conclude that “it appears both species [jaguars and White-lipped Peccaries] have been extirpated already in the other three large forest remnants in the region, and their long-term persistence depends on immediate conservation actions in the Cotocachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve.” Our Manduriacu Reserve borders this national reserve, and acts as a forested corridor between it and Los Cedros Reserve.
We still need help to buy the core lot in this reserve, which is also the only known site in the world for the Tandayapa Andean Toad Rhaebo olallai; please write me (loujost at yahoo com) for more info.
Lou Jost, EcoMinga Foundation