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Conserving Wild Felids in Humanized Landscapes

Conserving Wild Felids in Humanized Landscapes

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Published by Silvio Marchini
Strategies for reducing conflicts between jaguars and cattle
Strategies for reducing conflicts between jaguars and cattle

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Silvio Marchini on Dec 30, 2011
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Publication of the Wild Felid Research and Management Association
Summer 2010, Volume 3, Issue 2
he elimination of jaguars
(Panthera onca)
and pumas
as retaliation for depredations on cattle is, along withhabitat loss and opportunistic hunting, the major cause of theirdemise throughout Latin America. It is the nal step in the processof their disappearance outside protected areas, which begins with theloss and fragmentation of habitat (Nowell& Jackson 1996). is problem arises inthe entire jaguar range from northernMexico to northern Argentina, including national parks and protected areas, whichare also used for cattle. Of these two species, the jaguar has a morecompromised future because it has a more restricted distribution andis less resilient than the puma.In recent years we have recorded intensifying predation by cats on live-stock caused by at least three factors: 1) the reduction of wildlife habitatdue to the expansion of agriculture and livestock ranching in virtuallyall of Latin America especially in the Llanos (Hoogesteijn & Mondol1992) and the Brazilian Pantanal (Harris
et al.
2005); 2) an increasednumber of wounded jaguars (which results in a larger number of cattle predators) due to increased hunting pressure by humans that has beenstimulated by human population growth, decreased economic produc-tivity, increasing ination and disregard for private property rights; 3)increased jaguar numbers due to the ending of the international furtrade and organized sport hunting.Cattle ranching causes signicant habitatloss for Latin American felids. Still, exten-sive ood-plain ranching in natural grass-land savannas is more cost-eective andless environmentally destructive compared to intensive agricultural production of large-scale crops such as soybeans, rice, cotton, corn andsugarcane that usually brings deforestation, grading, ood control, andagro-chemicals. Such ood-prone savannas are distributed over theLlanos of Venezuela and Colombia, the Beni of Bolivia, the Pantanal inBrazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, and the higher and more forested savan-nas of Guyana. In the Llanos of Venezuela, the best livestock-managedranches are also those that hold (or held) the best faunal populations(Hoogesteijn
et al.
2005). ese ranches also diversied their incomethrough ecotourism (Hoogesteijn & Hoogesteijn 2010). www.wildfelid.com;
e need to include private property inconservation programs for large felids inthe Americas is a necessary reality.
 WFA Council News
- Council election results- Regional reports
Student Corner
- Wild Felid Legacy Scholarship
- Puma - livestock conicts in thehighlands of Bolivia- Puma, bobcat, margay and jaguarundi in Puebla, Mexico- Patagonia puma project- Lynx linkages in Yellowstone- Estimating potential changes indistribution of lynx in Colorado 
Strategies for reducing conflicts between jaguars and cattle
Rafael Hoogesteijn
, Panthera, Brazil,
 Almira Hoogesteijn
, CINVESTAV, Mexico,
 almirahoo@mda.cinestav.mx (cont p. )
 Wild Felid Monitor: Summer 2010: Vol. 3, Issue 2
 Jaguars play a prominent role in this activity. In theconict resolution paradigm biologists and conservationists have tounderstand that ranchers are not their enemies. Many have taken overthe responsibility of maintaining wildlife on their properties, in spiteof sometimes considerable losses. Greater threats are the large devel-opment and agriculture mega-projects, which result in irreversibleecological changes (White 2008).In several areas of the Pantanal, the jaguar has become a major eco-tourist attraction, generating income for farmers, guides and localsthat more than oset losses caused by predation (Hoogesteijn &Hoogesteijn 2010). However, poor ecotourism practices can alsoincrease the risk of attacks by jaguars. Marchini
et al 
. (2009) reportthat using baits or lures to attract jaguars for viewing by tourists maylead to habituation of jaguars to human presence; it may also cause the jaguar to associate people with the presence of food. Because baiting can lead to disastrous consequences, it should be prohibited.In combination with ecotourism, it is also possible to organize “organicmeat” production schemes (Domingos 2005). In the era of antibiotics,hormones and mad cow disease, clean meat that is free of zoonotic dis-eases and added pharmaceuticals has a better acceptance and can gethigher prices if marketed correctly. is will provide more income tofarmers who participate in these programs, osetting predation losses.In workshops conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Society andPanthera and involving hundreds of Latin-American ranchers, mostranchers indicated appreciation of jaguars on their properties as anatural and cultural heritage of which they are proud. But they are alsocompelled to remove jaguars in cases of ongoing predation. Becausethere are no legal or judicial deterrents to the illegal hunting of jaguarsand pumas (or their prey), and complaints to the authorities aboutcattle predation usually receive no response, many ranchers take mat-ters into their own hands. e policy applied by many ranchers todayis “Shoot, Shovel and Shut Up”, which treats the symptoms but doesn’tresolve the causes of the problem.Predation rates are related to local habitat variables, suchas the distance to forested or riparian areas, the propor-tion of forested areas close to paddocks or to the cattleranch headquarters and some interactions between thesefactors (Azevedo & Murray 2007; Michalski
et al 
. 2006).Predation rates also vary according to the local ecologi-cal conditions and the individual predator’s age, being generally associated with very old or injured animals,females with cubs, or young animals in search of a newhome range (Leite
et al 
. 2002). erefore it has been sug-gested that management eorts be directed towards the“problem” animal and not to all the carnivores in the area(Silveira
et al 
. 2008). In support, in northwestern Mexico,Rosas-Rosas & Valdez (2010) showed the clear existenceof “problem” jaguars whose removal, in their opinion, would enhance the local conservation of the jaguar popu-lation. Conversely, in the Pantanal, Cavalcanti (2008)showed that all the jaguars in the study area consumedcattle to a greater or lesser extent throughout the year;thus, there were no specic “problem” jaguars. Crawshaw & uigley(2002) reported that particularly in the Pantanal, healthy jaguars at-tack cattle as if they were wild prey, as cattle move freely in the mosaicof open grasslands, woodlands and forests.An integrated jaguar conservation strategy should be based on fourkey criteria (based on: Rabinowitz 1995; Crawshaw & uigley 2002;and Hoogesteijn & Hoogesteijn 2005). 1) Larger and more extensive protected areas should be created throughout the jaguar’s range. 2)Deterrent mechanisms have to be instituted to prevent the illegal kill-ing of jaguars, pumas and wild prey, and to strengthen monitoring andenforcement of wildlife protection. 3) Education and management programs should be provided to local ranchers to help with implement-ing jaguar anti-predation strategies and controlling predation losses. 4)Government and private programs need to be organized to promoteecotourism, encourage the production of organic meat (Domingos2005), and to grant “rewards” to farmers who maintain faunal popula-tions on their properties, do not allow indiscriminate hunting of catsand adopt management measures designed to minimize cattle lossescaused by predation.e protected areas that currently exist are insucient to ensure thesurvival of carnivores in need of large territories, with the exceptionof the Amazon in Brazil (Sollman
et al.
2008). Approximately 96%of the jaguar distribution in tropical America ood-plain areas is on private property; consequently, the conicting pressures of land usemake it dicult to get protected areas that are large enough. Multiple-use areas containing abundant resources of forests and water sourcesand where hunting of jaguars and their prey is prohibited are needed.is has to include private land. e corridors program that is being organized in several Central American countries by Panthera, and which will be expanded to other countries in South America, may helpremedy this problem. If large enough for jaguars and other species of  wildlife, these areas will facilitate the maintenance of jaguar diversityfor future generations (Rabinowitz & Zeller 2010).
C S 
e use of the jaguar as a agship species in ecotourism is generatinimportant sources of revenue for local populations who cohabit with thisformidable feline. is photo was taken in the Brazilian Pantanal. Note jaguaron bank. Credit: Steve Winter, Panthera
(om p. 1)
C S 
 Wild Felid Monitor: Summer 2010: Vol. 3 Issue 2
Education on sound management practices will help increase livestock productivity and therefore economic standards. Presently, manycattle ranchers ignore how improved and more ecient livestockmanagement can provide them with signicant increases of income.In general, the more organized ranches in the savanna oodplains havehigher productivity as well as abundant wildlife populations and fewer predation problems (Hoogesteijn & Chapman 1997). Many ranchers(and farm workers) still believe that felids have little or no economic value and that they constitute a threat to their way of life. ere is very little consciousness of the important role that predators play inmaintaining the communities of their natural prey and the integrityof natural ecosystems.Rosas-Rosas & Valdez (2010) successfully developed and organizedan innovative white-tailed deer (
Odocoileus virginianus
) sport-hunting  program in northwestern Mexico. Funds from the program were paidto landowners, and convinced them to suspend jaguar and puma predator-control eorts in the area. However, these programs won’thave any eect if they are not accompanied by legal mechanisms that prevent opportunistic felid hunting and prey poaching with heavy penalties to the oenders.
ere are a number of anti-predatory strategies available (some provenand others in trial) that are not being used or are used in a very smalldegree because of ignorance, the methods are contrary to their cus-toms, or because they involve additional expense and work. e easeof implementing these measures is directly related to the intensity of livestock management and inversely related to the size of the ranch.ere is no single solution for all cattle ranches as the implementationof these strategies depends largely on the willingness of owners tocontrol the problem and to compensate employees that participate inthese programs, since they require more work and an economic incen-tive to recover losses. ere is a great opportunity to improve jaguarconservation through NGOs and government agencies working withranchers.e following actions to reduce predation problems were summarizedfrom information taken from Hoogesteijn
et al.
(1993), Rabinowitz(1995), Nowell & Jackson (1996), Crawshaw & uigley (2002),Hoogesteijn
et al.
(2002), Shiano
et al 
. (2002), Polisar
et al 
. (2003),Hoogesteijn & Hoogesteijn (2005), Michalski
et al 
. (2006), Azevedo& Murray (2007), Palmeira
et al 
. (2008), Rosas-Rosas
et al 
. (2008),Hoogesteijn & Hoogesteijn (2009), and Cavalcanti
. (In Press).
Livestock Management 
1) Stop the indiscriminate and opportunistic hunting of jaguars and pumas, and protect natural prey populations through eective surveil-lance (public or private). Ban the commercial hunting of caimans andcapybara, unless it is well managed and aects only a small percentageof the populations. Organize security services or cooperative eortsbetween several ranches (with government support if possible) toreduce cattle rustling and wildlife poaching (Hoogesteijn & Arenas2008).2) In areas with high predation, keep cattle in small paddocks, pens orcorrals near human habitation at night. Lighting and the presence of dogs increases eectiveness. e connement corrals or paddocks canalso be combined with electric fences. Despite a small increase in farmlabor and operating costs, this simple measure is very eective and thecattle herds are easily habituated to it. ere are several practices totrain herds into corrals, including burning dry dung during the nightto repel insect pests, or placing mineral supplements in feeders.3) Create water sources for wildlife in various areas on the ranch toincrease prey abundance and inuence their spatial distribution, help-ing to direct the use of dierent areas by cats especially during the dryseason (Polisar
et al 
. 2003).4) Fence o watering places in forested areas to prevent access by cattleand build alternate water sources in cattle pastures. is is especiallyimportant during the dry season when prey and predators usuallyinterface in riparian areas, increasing the vulnerability of livestock to predation (Rosas-Rosas
et al.
2008). Keeping herds away from forestedcore areas used by jaguars reduces the potential for conict (Azevedo& Murray 2007, Michalski
et al.,
2006). is recommendation canbe easily implemented on small and medium-sized ranches that areadjacent to forested areas and on large ranches that have narrow stripsof gallery forest along rivers and seasonal water streams. However, itis not easy to implement on large ranches with large forested areasbecause it requires a large investment in fence construction and yearlymaintenance.5) Establish short breeding seasons of 3-4 months. is improves live-stock operation eciency and allows for closer supervision of newborncalves (Hoogesteijn & Hoogesteijn 2005). Concentrated births makesupervision cost-eective and easier, especially in clean pastures awayfrom forested areas (Palmeira
et al.
2008). During the calving seasonit is easy to recruit more workers, allowing for increased surveillance.It is important to keep calves in pastures away from wooded areas forup to three months post-birth (Michalski
et al 
. 2006), to signicantlyreduce predation. Hoogesteijn & Hoogesteijn (2009) demonstratedthe benet of establishing a breeding season on the reduction of  predation in a ranch located in the ooded savanna area of CojedesNight corrals are an eective and easy way to decrease predationand cattle the. Credit: authors

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