• Biodiversity Surveys & Ecological Monitoring
  • Human-wildlife Conflict
  • Livelihoods & Sustainable Development
  • Latin America

The ‘Caatinga’ contains a large range of rare species but is mostly understudied.

However, some studies conducted in 2013 have estimated that around 250 mature jaguars and 2,500 mature pumas are present in the area and both species are locally considered ‘Critically Endangered’ or ‘Endangered’ despite their respective IUCN classification of ‘Near Threatened’ and ‘Least Concern’. This discrepancy reflects the severe levels of human persecution of these large felids in the region.

A few years ago, Brazilian conservation scientist Dr Claudia B. Campos decided to try to help the local communities to protect their herds from predation by jaguars. She persuaded the company Tetra Pak to donate recycled packages from which she created an innovative design for goat pens. Using these recycled materials as walls and roof, wire mesh, a few concrete posts and the efforts of the local villagers, they built 18 goat pens. Goats took to the pens instantly and villagers were able to lock up their livestock at night to protect them from the big cats and other risks.

Chester Zoo is now working with Dr Campos and her team to secure the survival of the highly threatened jaguar population while improving the lives and wellbeing of poor communities in the region. The aim of this project is to implement sustainable community-based mitigation of human-jaguar/puma conflict alongside scientific research and monitoring. The main priorities include:

  1. Improving livestock protection and husbandry by enhancing the existing pens and by building new ones in the neighbouring communities.
  2. Developing sustainable supplementary livelihoods to alleviate the poverty which underpins the human-wildlife conflict.
  3. Influencing people’s behaviours towards wildlife and reducing killing of jaguars and pumas, using social marketing or other behaviour change approaches.
  4. Conducting ecological and socio-economic research both to understand better the parameters shaping the conflict, the occupancy and habitat use of the felids, and the needs, values and behaviours of the local people.
  5. Facilitating a participatory approach in collaboration with national authorities to access and benefit sharing for the creation of the new protected area adjacent to the project sites.
  6. Tracking of felids using GPS collars.
In the past, we have been studying ranchers’ attitudes towards jaguars in the northern Pantanal in Brazil to identify ways of resolving human-wildlife conflict in the region. The results of our study suggested that most ranchers actually supported the conservation of the Pantanal but that attitudes towards jaguars were mixed and hard to predict based on socio-economic factors. This is why we are now working towards a model for ensuring the safe coexistence of wildlife and people across different kinds of landscapes.
Key Facts
mature jaguars and 2,500 puma's are present in the Caatinga
reinforced goat pens were built in the local communities to mitigate the human-wildlife conflict with jaguars and pumas