This is the question WWF-Brazil is helping answer in the Iguaçu area, division between Brazil and Argentina. One of the most critical areas for jaguars (Panthera onca) conservation, the Upper Parana Region is a piece of Atlantic Forest, the biome where scientists estimate only about 200 jaguars live, less than 1% of the original population.
This has been happening due to deforestation, human occupation and other threats to the animal. To help protect the jaguar, WWF-Brazil and Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina have been working together with WWF-Paraguay and local institutions like the project Jaguars of Iguaçu, from Brazil, and the Institute of Subtropical Biology, of Argentina, nucleated in the Project Yaguareté.
Recently, the trinational Atlantic Forest program celebrated an increase of about 30% in jaguar individuals in the Iguaçu National Park. In 2014, the amount of jaguars in the region was estimated in 51 to 84 individuals. Now, a new study from 2017 estimates between 71 and 107 animals. The monitoring was based in months of photographic analysis from camera trap images collected in 2016 in the forest.
The Iguaçu National Park is a protected area that crosses Brazil and Argentinean territory. It’s a park opened to the public, that receives almost 2 million visitors per year only in Brazil. It’s considered a World Natural Heritage of Humanity because of the amazing Iguaçu Falls, a breathtaking landscape in the middle of a core forest area.
People from 166 countries visited the Brazilian side of the park in 2017, not to count researchers that go there to see the amazing fauna and flora. Only of butterflies, scientists estimate around 800 different species in the park! Another incredible merit of this protected area is the income generation. Over half the jobs from the Foz do Iguaçu city in Brazil are related to the visitation activities in the park.
In August 2018, the park got another reason to celebrate: the Jaguars of Iguaçu Project registered three new cubs living there. The adorable photos of the baby jaguars were published on Facebook, right after WWF-Brazil and the project launched together a guide for rural producers to deal better with the animal.
The partnership between WWF-Brazil and the Jaguars of Iguaçu Project supports exactly the coexistence between jaguars and men. This includes environmental education actions with the local community, support for project´s team and communications materials.
With the three new cubs, the project is doing a very strong effort of engaging the community in the park, including tourists, workers and rural producers, to drive more carefully around the area. Signs and traffic cones have been and placed and there has been daily posts in social media, newsletters and Whatsapp messaging.
Each new animal indicates a mild recovery and offers hope for the conservation of this specie, fundamental to the environment. The jaguar is a priority specie for conservation, considered a bioindicator of the ecosystem. The jaguar conservation influences all its prey and the entire food chain. Therefore, the jaguar conservation is the Atlantic Forest conservation, a biome that holds 7% of the entire planet’s plant species and 5% of all vertebrate species (Cullen Jr., Bodmer, & Valladares Pádua, 2000).
By Taís Meireles