Jaguar (Panthera onca) The King of the Neotropical Rainforest
The Jaguar is the top predator of the Neotropical rainforest, and the third largest cat species in the world. They are a "flagship species" around which many conservation efforts are focused.
These large carnivores must have an ample supply of prey species, including agoutis, peccaries, and even three-toed sloths. Because of these needs, jaguars are typically only found in areas where humans have not damaged the forest ecoystem.
Our research in Nicaragua is trying to determine how many Jaguars still live in the forests of the Caribbean Coast. We receive lots of reports from local hunters and farmers of Jaguars (mostly from track sightings).
We place small camera traps in the rainforest to take photos of Jaguars and other animals. A camera trap has an infrared sensor that detects when an something moves in front of it. If an animal walks by, it takes a photo.
Each Jaguar has a distinctive spot pattern. The size, shape, and spacing of each spot creates an overall pattern that is unique to each animal.
Check out the jaguars in the video below.
Copyright Gerald R. Urquhart
Michigan State University
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