Jaguars in the fringe
Addressing conflict in Northwest Argentina
Jaguars once reached Patagonia’s Rio Colorado at their southernmost distribution. Today as the Yungas (eastern Andes piedmont forest) and Chaco forests of Northwest Argentina are quickly cleared to make way for the “soybean revolution” what was once a continuous jaguar population is now shrinking into smaller habitat blocks, where the “tigres” – as they are locally known, continue to be hunted in retaliation for livestock losses. Extensive herding practices and poor husbandry, with stock let loose in the forests and seldom rounded up, renders the calves susceptible to predation, resulting in significant economic loss to small-scale ranchers, negative attitudes toward wildlife and conservation activities in general, and wasteful killing of jaguars.
WildCRU is contributing to the implementation of a project to reduce livestock losses to predation and alleviate the animosity existing among ranchers against jaguars. In partnership with Pablo Perovic of Administración de Parques Nacionales we work with ranchers in and around Calilegua and Baritu National Parks implementing changes in livestock husbandry. Ranchers get financial assistance to build calving enclosures, synchronize herd breeding season and improve the quality of their stock. Livestock losses are closely monitored and other ranchers invited to learn new husbandry practices with the expectation that they will eventually also adopt them. A scheme to improve pig husbandry by building communal pig-stays is also planned. Community education activities seek to change local attitudes towards jaguars and make them more receptive to conservation activities. Jaguars and their prey are monitored using camera-trap and transect surveys. The ultimate goal is that by changing husbandry practices there will be lower grazing pressure on the forests, eventually leading to a recovery of the prey base for the cats, which may in time reduce their reliance on livestock for food.