Panthera onca

The jaguar (Panthera onca) is the largest feline in the Americas and the third largest in the world. Tropical forests and savannas below 2000 meters are preferred jaguar habitats. Jaguars feed mainly on large and medium sized mammals, and their role as predators in the food chain helps to regulate the populations, removing old and sick and preventing the spread of diseases.

Jaguar abundance is naturally low, and as such knowledge of its biology and ecology are priorities to ensure long-term conservation. From 2001 to date, WCS has conducted various studies on the distribution, density, diet and activity patterns of jaguar, through the use of camera traps on the beaches and forests along rivers: Tuichi, Hondo, Quendeque, Madidi and Heath in the Madidi National Park, and Undumo and Tequeje streams in the Tacana Indigenous Territory in Bolivia. Between 2001 and 2009, 535 camera trap stations were placed, covering an area of 3.268,33 km2, permitting jaguar density estimate of between 0.95 and 5.08 ind/km2, and confirming the scarcity of this species and the need for conservation action plans at a landscape level. Jaguars living in the landscape showed higher diurnal activity, frequenting riverbanks and other fresh water bodies, while at night their activity was slightly less. Estimates of jaguar movements between camera trap stations resulted in distances up to 13.71 kilometers.

In 2007, in coordination with Peru’s Cayetano Heredia University, WCS conducted an evaluation of jaguars in the Bahuaja Sonene National Park and the Tambopata National Reserve; these areas border the Madidi National Park. A total of 118 camera trap stations were established, covering 271.73 km2 and 28 jaguar pictures were obtained, identifying the presence of 9 individuals and an estimated density of 3.03 ind/100 km2. A recent study on jaguar diet in the lower valleys of the Tuichi, Hondo and Quiquibey rivers within the Madidi and Pilon Lajas protected areas, indicated that the main prey are the white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari) and the collared peccary (Pecari tajacu). In total 19 mammal species and 1 reptile species were reported in the jaguar diet with the highest frequency of occurrence in jaguar scats for the white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari), the collared peccary (Pecari tajacu), the Central American agouti (Dasyprocta punctata), the red brocket deer (Mazama americana) and the spotted paca (Cuniculus paca). In terms of relative biomass consumed, the largest contribution came from the white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari), the collared peccary (Pecari tajacu) and the tapir (Tapirus terrestris).