By Jemma Smith
At least 60 big cats have been killing within national protected areas in Brazil during the past two years according to a recent survey published in mongabay.com's open access journal Tropical Conservation Science (TCS). The report, which focuses on jaguar (Panthera onca) and puma (Puma concolor) populations, within Brazilian protected areas shows that reserve management and use restrictions impact the level of big cat hunting.
Results collected from a questionnaire sent to a sample of reserve managers shows reports of hunting was 3 times more frequent in reserves with less restriction for human use. The study also shows that hunting had occurred in nearly 50% of reserves known to have populations of big cat.
Hunting is rarely reported and when reports are made they are hardly ever followed through with legal prosecution. This could mean that residents near less restricted reserves are not concerned with being prosecuted leading to higher levels of hunting being reported in these areas.
Both jaguars and pumas have international protection against hunting. Jaguars are listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN's red list and included on CITIES Appendix 1, while pumas are listed as Least Concern and included on Appendix 2. These classifications mean the hunting of both species is illegal. The scientists comment that "hunting is widespread in protected areas and that legal protected status is no guarantee of actual protection."
Even with this report there is still insufficient data and the number of big cat deaths is just an estimate. It is likely the actual number of deaths is much higher. "More studies are needed to evaluate death rates, factors associated with hunting, the effects of human population size and of specific management measures. Most important is the need to know how hunting affects population viability in these areas" explains the scientists. Furthermore, the scientists suggest "managers of protected areas should try to systematize the available information and investigate possible cases. Only by recognizing the problem will it be possible to take measures to solve it."
CITATION: Carvalho Jr, E.A.R and Morato, R.G. 2013. Factors affecting big cat hunting in Brazilian protected areas. Tropical Conservation Science Vol. 6(2):303-310