A National Action Plan for the jaguar in Brazil
Species-focused conservation action plans supply a blueprint for saving a species or group of species. Through a species focus, a greater level of conservation investment to whole ecosystems is stimulated. The IUCN Species Survival Commission is currently working with its networks to improve species conservation planning techniques. The SSC Species Conservation Planning Sub-Committee has been formed to learn from past experiences and to further develop and test processes that lead to effective, realistic, measurable and implementable conservation plans. The IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group and the IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group have been very active participants in these initiatives. Both groups have many years of experience working together with diverse stakeholders throughout the world to develop conservation planning approaches.
In this Special Issue of Cat news we present the process, tools and some results from the Jaguar National Action Planning Workshop held in Atibaia, State of São Paulo, Brazil, in November 2009. It was organised and funded by CENAP - Centro Nacional de Pesquisa e Conservação de Mamíferos Carnívoros (a governmental agency responsible for all aspects of carnivore research, conservation, and policy-making in Brazil), Pró-Carnívoros (a national non-governmental organization dedicated to carnivore conservation) and Panthera (an international NGO). The Brazilian Network of the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group together with the Cat Specialist Group designed and facilitated the workshop.
An action plan is prepared through inclusive, participatory processes. A diversity of stakeholders worked tirelessly together in both small working groups and plenary sessions through a series of carefully planned steps to prepare the national action plan. This process and some results are presented in the first article of this issue. Globally, jaguars are listed as “Near Threatened” (IUCN 2011). In Brazil, the species can be found in five different biomes including the Amazon, Atlantic Forest, Caatinga, Cerrado, and Pantanal. However, jaguar populations in each of these biomes are under different types and levels of threat.
During the Jaguar National Action Planning Workshop, a red listing exercise was performed with workshop participants and discussed in plenary sessions. Results from this work are presented in a series of articles in this issue. All the rules and definitions in the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria Version 3.1 (IUCN 2001) were applied to jaguar populations in each Brazilian biome where they occur. Given that individuals can move between biomes, methods for adjusting the results were applied using the IUCN Red List Regional Guidelines (IUCN 2003).
There are important reasons to assess the risk of species extinction at the biome level. Using ecological borders rather than geo-political is often more efficient in terms of conducting explicit practical conservation assessments. In the case of jaguars, the biome-based assessment clearly illustrated how populations in different biomes where under different threats and at varying levels of extinction risk. Results from this exercise were important in assessing populations within each biome and to pinpoint areas where information lacked. The Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio), an agency of the Brazilian Environmental Agency (IBAMA), is currently assessing species throughout Brazil and is now using the jaguar workshop and process as a model to adopt a biome approach for the red list assessment of other wide-ranging species.
An action plan must also be based on sound conservation science and during the Jaguar National Action Planning Workshop three different modelling tools were used which are further detailed in this issue. A Population Viability Analysis (PVA) exercise took place to explore jaguar population dynamics and better gauge potential management scenarios and conservation strategies. In addition, the species distribution was modelled through the use of GIS and an environmental suitability map for jaguar distribution was created. Finally, priority areas for jaguar conservation and parameters important for building a corridor model to identify connections between source populations also took place in working groups during the workshop.
The purpose of this publication is to inspire other groups preparing their action plans on methods, tools and techniques that can be successfully applied. We hope you enjoy this issue and look forward to sharing results from the implementation of this action plan in the coming years. An action plan is only successful if it is widely implemented for the conservation of species and their habitats.
Arnaud Desbiez and Christine Breitenmoser-Würsten
Species conservation planning: the jaguar National Action Plan for Brazil by A. Desbiez and R. C. de Paula
A species conservation plan provides a detailed proposal of actions that need to be undertaken to “save” a species. A species action plan must be based on sound conservation science and prepared through an inclusive, participatory process. The Jaguar National Action plan took place in Atibaia, São Paulo, Brazil in November 2009. It was organised and funded by CENAP (Centro Nacional de Pesquisa e Conservação de Mamíferos Carnívoros, the government organization responsible for all aspects of carnivore conservation, research and policy making), Pro-Carnivoros (a national carnivore NGO) and Panthera (an international felid NGO). The Brazilian Network of the IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) together with the IUCN/ SSC Cat Specialist Group (CatSG) designed and facilitated the workshop.
Red List assessment of the jaguar in Brazilian Amazonia by T. G. de Oliveira, E. E. Ramalho and R. C. de Paula
Amazonia is the most important biome for the long-term survival of the jaguar in Brazil due to its relatively well preserved state and continuous area of adequate habitat. In the Brazilian portion of Amazonia the jaguar’s present extent of occurrence EOO continues to encompass the whole area of the biome, but the continued loss of habitat in the east and southeast limits of this biome, an area known as the “arch of deforestation”, has resulted in a significant reduction and fragmentation of the jaguar’s area of occupancy AOO. Based on data from camera trap surveys we assumed an average density of 1-2 jaguars/100 km2 for the majority of the biome, with the exception of well-preserved floodplain forest areas where the species is more abundant. Considering this average density, the effective population size to total population size ratio proposed by Frankham (1995, 2009), and the total remaining area of the biome, we estimated the present effective jaguar population size for Amazonia in Brazil to be < 10,000 individuals. In addition the jaguar population is likely to be decreasing in this biome as a result of habitat loss, direct persecution and depletion of prey population. In our evaluation the jaguar should be classified as Vulnerable C1.
The jaguar in the Atlantic Forest by B. M. Beisiegel, D. A. Sana and E. A. Moraes Jr
Jaguars Panthera onca are Critically Endangered (A4 b c d; C2 a i) in the Atlantic Forest because a population reduction of 50-90% was estimated in the past 10-15 years in the largest subpopulations of jaguars at the Upper Paraná and is suspected at the Coastal Atlantic Forest. The causes of reduction have not ceased since there is a continuous decrease in the Extent of Occurrence EOO, Area of Occupancy AOO and habitat quality, plus retaliatory and sport killing. The total number of mature individuals is less than 250 and the number of mature individuals is less than 50 in almost all subpopulations. The most serious threats to jaguars in the Atlantic Forest are habitat loss and degradation, loss of prey base and jaguar hunting. Legal protection has been ineffective in stopping Atlantic Forest deforestation and most protected areas have human settlements, causing direct habitat loss, habitat degradation and loss of prey base; other forms of habitat degradation are caused by illegal palm Euterpe edulis harvesters and poachers, as well as through natural and criminal fires that occur throughout the Atlantic Forest. Conservation measures most needed are the legal and effective protection of all the remaining large fragments of the Atlantic Forest through new restrictive Conservation Units, restoration of connectivity between the extant protected areas with known jaguar populations, effective protection of the extant Conservation Units in the form of intensive patrolling and an increase in ecological and genetic research to allow population management, which may be a necessity in some areas.
Supporting Online Material:
Red List assessment for the jaguar in the Caatinga Biome by R. C. de Paula, C. B. de Campos and T. G. de Oliveira
The Caatinga is the only exclusive Brazilian Biome and the jaguar Panthera onca is one of the most endangered species in this biome. In this paper we present the status of the species in the Caatinga biome. No specific information on jaguars’ biology and ecology is available for the Caatinga. Jaguars are distributed within the Caatinga along 178,579 km², which represents 21% of the biome. This range was estimated based on the confirmed locations, population ranges, and the favourable areas for its presence based on habitat viability models. It seems that the jaguar population in the biome is very fragmented. Five sub-populations were identified and the area of occupancy of jaguars was 87,325.50 km². This area comprises only 10% of the total area of the Caatinga biome. The general average of all the density estimates resulted in a number of 0.3 individuals/100 km², a very low population with estimation of 262 individuals. The status of conservation of jaguar is Critically Endangered C2 a(i). Among the main threats to its populations are stern fragmentation, habitat loss and degradation, loss of prey base, jaguar hunting, and industrialization of the surrounding areas. Some conservations measures like maintenance of the gene flow among jaguar populations by means of ecological corridors and a new protected area are urgent actions.
The status of the jaguar in the Cerrado by E. A. Moraes Jr
The extent of occurence of jaguars Panthera onca in the Cerrado was estimated to be 157,500 km² and we identified 11 jaguar subpopulations in the biome by using jaguar presence points. Using data from several studies jaguar density was estimated at 0.67 mature individuals per 100 km² for all areas in the Brazilian Cerrado. A population of 323 adult jaguars is estimated to live throughout the biome. The Cerrado subpopulation is declining throughout the biome at an unknown rate. Jaguars have already disappeared from the areas where habitat has been converted. About half of the 2 million square kilometres of the original Cerrado were transformed into planted pastures, annual crops and other land use forms over the past 50 years. Principal jaguar threats are habitat loss, population declines, loss of prey base, jaguar killing, agribusiness, mining, roadkills and hydroelectric power.
Supporting Online Material:
The status of the jaguar in the Pantanal by S. M. C. Cavalcanti, F. C. C. de Azevedo, W. M. Tomás, R. L. P. Boulhosa, P. G. Crawshaw Jr
The Pantanal is considered an important area for the conservation of jaguars Panthera onca in the long-term. In comparison to other biomes in Brazil, the Pantanal can be considered still relatively well preserved. According to a recent study, the original vegetation cover remains intact in 85% of the Pantanal plain. However, in the uplands of the Upper Paraguay watershed over 50% of the original vegetation has been altered. This situation is worrisome as this area harbors the headwaters of the rivers that are responsible for maintaining the wet and dry cycles of the Pantanal. As opposed to previously reported, only about 63% of the Pantanal biome is actually occupid by jaguars. Habitat fragmentation caused by human presence and intensification of land use is a threat to jaguars in the Pantanal. Other threats include high levels of retaliation from ranchers due to livestock depredation and the lack of enforcement by wildlife authorities, illegal hunting tourism activity, pasture management through the use of annual fires, and the mining industry. The first estimate of a jaguar population in Brazil was conducted in the southern Pantanal (6.5-7.0 jaguars/ km²), although the distribution of the species is heterogeneous, which precludes an accurate estimation of the current population size in this biome. Authorities should recognize the cost associated with grazing cattle in an area where jaguars exist in considerable numbers and regularly prey on cattle. A unique regional policy could address some of the problem, perhaps in the form of tax benefits, special lines of credit, or a regional increase in beef prices. It is important that environmental actions be implemented to increase market value of cattle raised in the region without changing the main characteristics of the Pantanal.
Population Viability Analysis of jaguar populations in Brazil by A. L. J. Desbiez, K. Taylor-Holzer, B. Lacy, B. M. Beisiegel, Ch. Breitenmoser-Würsten. D. A. Sana,. E. A. Moraes Jr, E. A. R. Carvalho Jr, F. Lima, R. L. P. Boulhosa, R. C. de Paula, R. G.
Population viability analysis (PVA) was used during the workshop for the Jaguar National Action Plan to better understand jaguar population dynamics and simulate different scenarios to understand the impact of threats and projected outcome of potential conservation strategies. The method is explicitly designed to broaden stakeholder involvement and enhance information sharing across disparate scientific and social domains. During the Jaguar National Action Plan workshop a base model was built for jaguars, a sensitivity analysis was run, and theoretical case studies of questions and situations raised by the participants were developed. The focus of this work was to examine concepts of jaguar population dynamics, stimulate discussions on jaguar life history parameters, fuel discussion on different threats, evaluate potential impact of these threats, and introduce participants to concepts of population viability analysis and its value as conservation planning tool.
Supporting Online Material:
How species distribution modeling can improve cat conservation - jaguars in Brazil by K. M. P. M. B. Ferraz, B. M. Beisiegel, R. C. de Paula, D. A. Sana, C. B. de Campos, T. G. de Oliveira and A. L. J. Desbiez
Modeling species distribution is a promising field of research for improving conservation efforts and setting priorities. The aim of this study was to produce an environmental suitability map for jaguar distribution in two biomes in Brazil – Caatinga and Atlantic Forest – , where the species is Critically Endangered as part of the Jaguar National Action Plan workshop (Atibaia, São Paulo state). Species occurrence (N = 57 for Caatinga and N = 118 for Atlantic Forest), provided by jaguar specialists, and ten environmental predictors (elevation, land cover, distance from water and bioclimatic variables) were used to generate species distribution models in Maxent. Both models presented high predictive success (AUC = 0.880 ± 0.027 for Caatinga and AUC = 0.944 ± 0.022 for Atlantic Forest) and were highly significant (p < 0.001), predicting only 18.64% of Caatinga and 10.32% of Atlantic Forest as suitable for jaguar occurrence. The species distribution models revealed the low environmental suitability of both biomes for jaguar occurrence, emphasizing the urgency of setting conservation priorities and strategies to improve jaguar conservation such as the implementation of new protected areas and corridors for species dispersal.
Supporting Online Material:
Conservation units, priority areas and dispersal corridors for jaguars in Brazil by S. Nijhawan
The National Action Plan Workshop for jaguars Panthera onca in Brazil, 2009, brought together jaguar experts from all over the country to strategize a survival plan for the jaguar in Brazil. The experts developed a consensus on significant jaguar populations, priority areas for jaguar conservation and parameters important for building a corridor model to identify connections between source populations. Twenty jaguar populations, called Jaguar Conservation Units (JCUs), were identified across five different biomes in the country. Detailed data collected on jaguar densities, important prey species, key threats, habitat quality and knowledge gaps for each JCU resulted in a comprehensive database that will be a central repository of jaguar information for Brazil. In addition, twenty four priority areas deemed important for long-term survival of the jaguar and associated conservation actions were identified. Although the framework used in this exercise is an adaptation of the methodology by Sanderson et al. (2002) and was established for jaguars, it can be used as a model to develop similar schemes for geographic priority setting, especially for single-species based conservation planning at the country level.
Supporting Online Material: