Jaguars, Pumas and Macaws: in the field with the kings of the Amazon

The admiration and interest generated by a big cat of the Amazon is undeniable. However, seeing a wild puma merely inches away or hearing the roar of a jaguar – of up to 85 kilos - face to face can produce a very different sensation, which is something that the WWF research team knows well.

In the south of Peru, the Andes become one with the Amazon merging some of the most varied ecosystems in the world, considered by many to be the epicenter of the Amazon biodiversity. Here, in the vicinity of the Tambopata and Malinowski Rivers, between the Tambopata National Reserve and the Bahuaja Sonene National Park, the WWF Peru team works along with ex hunters, former parkguards and Peruvian and foreign scientists investigating firsthand some of the most attractive and threatened, but least studied animals in the Amazon.

Tracking their steps
Through camera traps and the placement of radio-transmitter devices on jaguars, pumas, white lipped peccaries – a wild boar species that moves in herds of up to 200 animals – and macaws, for their subsequent remote tracking, the team of scientists works to determine the minimal areas required to keep healthy populations of these species.

This information will provide improved arguments for the creation and management of protected areas and other strategies for the conservation of these animals, which are key actors in the Amazon forests, either as seed dispersers or as large predators.

Seeing through the forest
Tracking wild animals in a habitat as untamed as the dense Amazon forests is no simple task. For this reason, the innovative investigation methodology used by the WWF team has allowed the gathering of key information, which would have been impossible to find out otherwise.

Beyond that, since it is the largest study conducted involving felines with radio-transmitters in the Amazon, it has provided both additional and improved information in less time. For example, it has been possible to identify the preference of peccaries for certain types of forests and fruits and the predilection of the felines for riparian forests, which yields more arguments for their conservation.

Today, these revealing studies involve tracking nearly 15 jaguars, 5 pumas, 80 macaws and parrots, aside from 40 peccaries that are being monitored through telemetry inside and out of the protected areas, which has provided insight on their behavior, the type of habitat that they prefer, and generally, contributed as few other have towards conserving and learning more about these animals, considered icons of the Amazon.

Key facts:
  • This is the largest study conducted with radio tracked cats in the Amazon.
  • The success of this study has been object of different documentaries in National Geographic and the Discovery Channel, among others, and now similar experiences are being repeated in other countries in the region.
We work with: Ministry of the Environment, Dirección General de Flora y Fauna Silvestre del Ministerio de Agricultura, Facultad de Ciencias Forestales de la Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Universidad Nacional Cayetano Heredia, Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT), Instituto Veterinario de Investigaciones Tropicales y de Altura (IVITA) de la Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, among other important allies.

With valuable support from: The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Blue Moon Foundation and the Felidae Conservation Fund.
Huanganas (Tayassu pecari) ingiriendo barro para complementar su dieta. Son uno de los animales estudiados por el equipo de WWF Perú.

For more information regarding the experience, please contact: