"Jaguars need remarkably large expanses of habitat to survive and Barro Colorado is too small to support even one animal. But the presence of even the odd individual that swims out there means that jaguars are still moving through the Canal area between patches of fragmented forest," said William Laurance, staff scientist at the Institute.
The Willis' began using camera traps in 1994 as a tool to record elusive and nocturnal species. This proved exceptionally helpful in gathering data about species that were poorly represented in their past censuses of the island. A jaguar monitoring program involving Panama's environment authority (ANAM) and zoological society (SOMASPA) as well as the international group, Panthera, is using camera traps to monitor jaguars on the mainland.
"These cats are incredibly elusive and sightings on the mainland, let alone Barro Colorado Island, are extremely rare," said Jackie Willis. "This is what makes this photo so excitingit offers proof positive that despite all the obstacles it faces this species is still making its way in Panama. We will be on the lookout for jaguar scat and tracks, and we will hope this individual passes by another camera trap before it leaves the island."
|Contact: Beth King|
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute