photo: Humboldt State University
As some of you may know, I pester Emil McCain on a regular basis for any info he can provide on jaguar biology, new photos, questions about Macho B, etc. Emil is always good-natured with my inquiries and I certainly thank him for that. He is currently in Spain but he’s keeping tabs on Macho B via the web. He recently sent me a copy of the Borderlands Jaguar Detection Project’s annual report for 2008. Take a look at it here.
In addition, Emil composed a fascinating email that I’m sharing below. I encourage all of you to support BJDP and Emil and Jack Childs, especially in light of Macho B’s collaring. Instead of speculation and wishes, we should be able to learn a ton about the southwestern jaguar. This is truly an exciting time! Ok, here’s Emil:
People should understand that immobilizing a wild cat is a very technical procedure and a cat like this needs to be completely “out” in order to be able to handle it. Unfortunately, some folks have a fairly negative view of radio collared animals, but I like your well worded explanation as to why it is necessary in this case (see https://swjags.wordpress.com/2009/02/20/macho-b-collared). Just think, we just increased our ability to gather data on him immensely! Until now we had sporadic hit and miss photos that were only taken in places where I happened to correctly predict he might travel. Those were all lucky shots in the dark and extremely biased by topography and my own abilities. Those data points were as sporadic as one per year or less, who knows where else he went during that time? The camera monitoring effort, while it is very extensive, only operates on the US side of the border. Now, with this collar I am getting a detailed location every 3 hrs, regardless of where he is. Furthermore, by having the collar on, we can now insure better protection from poachers as all local law enforcement officials are “on call”. The border aspect of this study is just fascinating, as I have always felt my study area was only half of the picture. I had tracked him crossing the fence, but without the permits I could not go on. We will now get the full picture, and I strongly believe that the stage is set for the cross-border information to begin to make an impact on the border fence issues. I will begin an in-depth diet and habitat use study (funding still pending). This will hopefully inspire even greater collaboration with local landowners and livestock growers, as we will know immediately if this cat ever kills and cattle. All livestock kills will be fully reimbursed, so the landowner does not receive economic losses from the jaguar being on his land. Once those important stakeholders see that their livelihood is not threatened by the presence of this animal, I truly believe they can become the jaguar’s biggest asset by looking after it on the ground and making sure nobody is harassing the animal or disturbing its habitat. The conservation of a large carnivore is just not easy and it is virtually impossible without the support of the local people (e.g., the Mexican wolf project). With the collaring success, I have already begun working more closely with the local landowner groups to bring everybody on board as invested jaguar conservation collaborators.
Until then, three cheers for Macho B!
Emil also pointed out that these two pictures were taken in the same spot. The first shows the fires this past summer and the second is obviously Macho B on the prowl this year. Neat to compare them: