Human-Jaguar Conflict Project

The jaguar, the largest cat of the Americas, survives across 18 countries of Central and South America, but its numbers are continuing to decline. Few pristine areas remain in which jaguars survive undisturbed by human influences.

65% of the remaining 11 million km2 jaguar range is outside of protected areas, and it is here that they come into contact with livestock, which often results in retaliatory killing by farmers.

Direct persecution of jaguars, as well as the hunting of their wild prey, is the most serious and widespread threat to their survival. In our recently-completed global study on human-jaguar conflict led by our conservation scientists in collaboration with WildCRU at Oxford University and a team of jaguar experts in the field, we studied over 100 cases of human-jaguar conflict across Latin America, including 17 case studies across seven countries.

A huge variety of socio-economic scenarios exist ranging from subsistence-scale farmers at the edges of protected areas who may lose their only cow, to jaguar predation, to enormous private ranches with thousands of cattle who hunt jaguars partly in retaliation for livestock losses but mainly for cultural reasons.

The variety of conflict contexts is huge, yet to address human-jaguar conflict, all cases need a different combination of three approaches;

  • ensuring and protecting sufficient wild prey for jaguars within and outside protected areas; 
  • working with farmers and ranchers to improve livestock husbandry practices; 
  • understanding and working with the cultures and social norms of these farming communities to find ways for them to benefit from, value, and protect jaguars.

To this end, we are currently developing a new field conservation project on jaguars with partners in Brazil and elsewhere, which will act as a model for ensuring the safe coexistence of jaguars and people across different kinds of landscapes.

Publications

Zimmermann, A., (2014). Jaguars and people: a range‐wide analysis of human‐wildlife conflict. D.Phil. Thesis. Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Zoology Department, University of Oxford.

Cavalcanti, S., Marchini, S., Zimmermann, A. , Gese, E.M. & Macdonald, D.W. (2010). Jaguars, livestock and people in Brazil: reality and perceptions behind the conflict. Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids. Eds D.W. Macdonald & A.J. Loveridge. Oxford University Press. Oxford UK. 383-402.

Zimmermann, A., Walpole, M. J., & Leader-Williams, N. (2005) Cattle ranchers’ attitudes to conflicts with jaguars in the Pantanal of Brazil. Oryx. 39 (4): 406-412.

Project team

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