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Cuéllar et al., 2012, Kaaiyana, a jaguar with cubs in the Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National Park, Bolivia

ISSN 1027-2992
N° 57 | AUTUMN 2012
CATnews 57 Autumn 2012
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Cover Photo: Female jaguar with two cubs
in the Gran Chaco, Bolivia
Photo: Daniel Alarcón, Bolivia
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CATnews 57 Autumn 2012
Kaaiyana, a jaguar with cubs
in the Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco
National Park, Bolivia
Park guards and visitors have recently (September-December 2011) observed and
photographed a very tame and calm female jaguar and her two cubs at the Estación
Isoso camp in the Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National Park. The photographs have al-
lowed researchers to confirm that she is the same female recorded in systematic
camera-trap surveys at the same site in 2005 and 2006. During the second survey
she was observed and photographed with a large cub, confirming that she has been
reproductively active over a five-year period, and has evidently occupied roughly the
same range. In 2006 she was also photographed in the company of a male, the only
camera-trap record for Kaa-Iya of a male-female pair. The two camera-trap surveys
contrast the site fidelity of this female with the apparently much higher turnover of
males; only one of four males was present in both surveys that took place less than
one year apart.
The 3.44 million ha Kaa-Iya del Gran Cha-
co National Park KIGCNP in Bolivia is the
best-preserved portion of the million km2
Gran Chaco ecoregion, the largest protec-
ted area in Bolivia, the largest protected
dry forest in the world, and the first nati-
onal protected area in South America to
be created as the result of an initiative by
indigenous people (Taber et al. 1997, WCS
et al. 2005).
Wildlife Conservation Society’s WCS Jaguar
Conservation Program JCP has identified this
area as a Type I Jaguar Conservation Unit
original contribution
JCU (Marieb 2006) – an area with a stable
community of prey species, with a resident
population of jaguars that is sufficiently large
(at least 50 reproducing indi-viduals) to po-
tentially maintain itself for the next 100 years
– and considers that the Gran Chaco JCU
spanning southern Bolivia and northern Para-
guay (124,000 km2) may well maintain 1,000
jaguars. Systematic camera-trap surveys be-
ginning in 2001 confirmed the presence of ja-
guars, including females and cubs, across the
protected area even at sites with an annual
rainfall as low as 400 mm and with scrub and
thorn forest vegetation systems (Maffei et al.
2004, Noss et al. 2012).
Estación Isoso was the fifth site to be sur-
veyed within the KIGCNP (Fig. 1). The survey
area surrounded a pumping station along
the Bolivia-Brazil gas pipeline, within tran-
sitional Chaco-Chiquitano forest types (650
mm annual precipitation; Navarro & Fuentes
1999). Both systematic camera-trap surveys
at the site covered the same 48-51 km2 area,
with cameras located along the gas pipeline
right of way, along trails (Fig. 2) in a 4 x 4
km grid opened expressly for the camera-
trapping surveys of jaguars and other wild-
life, and at ponds and salt licks (Fig. 1, inset).
cameras were spaced 2 km apart and pro-
grammed to operate 24 hours a day for 56-
64 days, for a total of 1232-1268 trap-nights
(Maffei et al. 2006, Romero-Muñoz et al.
2007, Romero-Muñoz 2008). The sampling
design for using camera traps to survey
jaguars is described in detail by Silver (2004)
and the aforementioned studies.
The camera-trap surveys recorded a total of
four males, one female, and one juvenile ani-
mal accompanying the female in 2006 (Table
1). Although the surveys were undertaken
less than one year apart, only one male was
recorded in both surveys, suggesting un-
stable and overlapping ranges. The single
female was photographed in both surveys
18 times at 7 stations (Fig. 1 inset), and was
Fig. 1. Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National Park, Bolivia, park guard posts/research camps,
and camera trap stations at Estación Isoso where Kaaiyana was photographed.
Fig. 2. Camera trap location in typical
Chaco habitat (Photo WCS-Bolivia).
CATnews 57 Autumn 2012
Female jaguar with cubs in the Gran Chaco, Bolivia
observ-ed and photographed by visitors and
park guards from September through Decem-
ber of 2011 (see cover picture), when she
was nicknamed Kaaiyana.
In 2005 Kaaiyana was recorded 8 times over
a 6 km2 area, both on the pipeline right of
way itself and on study trails (Fig. 3), during
the two-month camera-trap survey. Of her
10 camera-trap records in 2006, in an area
of 19 km2 she was twice accompanied by a
large juvenile and once by male E5, the first
record in the park of a male-female pair of
jaguars (Romero-Muñoz et al. 2007).
Froilán Peña, a park guard, observed a fema-
le jaguar with three different sets of cubs in
the same area between 2006 and 2011. His
latest set of observations began on 27 Sep-
tember 2011, one week before Daniel Alar-
cón visited the site with park guard Celso
Méndez, and obtained the spectacular pho-
tograph (cover picture) which allowed us to
confirm the identity of Kaaiyana, something
we were unable to do for the other years.
The same group returned again in late No-
vember 2011 and obtained new photo and
video footage of Kaaiyana tending her cubs.
In the company of Froilán Peña, Daniel Alar-
cón has observed her on five occasions, with
her two cubs present during three of those
encounters. Another park guard, Gualberto
Manuel, observed her in December when
she was still with her cubs, despite the onset
of rains. All of the observations took place in
the early morning (05:30-06:00 h) and late
afternoon (17:30-19:00 h). During all these
encounters she remained completely calm,
lying down while her cubs played around
her or nursed in front of the observers in a
vehicle 30 m away, or walking calmly along.
On one occasion she approached to within
2 m of the vehicle, then lay down and rested
there for 20 minutes before returning to her
cubs. The two cubs were shy, with the larger
one each time growling more loudly at the
observers, though responding to its mother’s
purrs, while the smaller cub remained dis-
The cubs were born around the beginning of
August, just at the end of the austral winter
when temperatures can drop to near free-
zing, and when no surface water is availab-
le in this area – severe challenges for a
nursing mother. Kaaiyana’s reproductively
active life in the wild spans at least five ye-
ars. Her permanence in the area over such a
long period, combined with the evident un-
stable presence of male jaguars (e.g. Fig. 4),
coin-cides with other reports (including th-
ree other KIGCNP sites where camera-trap
surveys have been repeated) that female
jaguars tend to exhibit more range fidelity
than do males (Rabinowitz & Nottingham
1986, Soisalo & Cavalcanti 2006, Cavalcanti
2008, Maffei et al. 2011, WCS-Guatemala
unpubl. data). However, repeat surveys at
one other KIGCNP site and a Chiquitano
dry forest site 200 km to the north suggest
somewhat greater stability among males
(WCS-Bolivia unpubl. data).
The 2011 photos are also remarkable for
the encounter having taken place on the
Estación Isoso airstrip (one flight every 20
days during the rainy season), within 1 km
of the Estación Isoso pumping station and
its permanent roar of generators and human
caretakers and vehicles circulating along the
pipeline right of way itself, and in daylight
hours. The recent direct observations coin-
cide with her activity as recorded by came-
ra traps: during crepuscular and nocturnal
hours (17:30-06:00 hrs), perhaps resulting in
part from movement of vehicles and people
along the gas pipeline during daylight hours.
She may bring the cubs out by day to mini-
mize possible encounters with male jaguars
that are more likely to be active by night.
Her lack of fear and calm curiosity towards
humans, even when caring for cubs, is most
striking in the 2011 encounters. However, in
2006 she also approached Alfredo Romero-
Muñoz one evening while he was returning
alone and on foot from checking the camera
traps (27 August, 18:25 hrs). He detected her
and her large cub at a distance of 20 m; she
lay down and yawned, then approached to
within 2 m before his shouts and flashing
headlamp encouraged her and her cub to en-
ter the forest. A month earlier he had seen
and filmed her alone briefly, as she crossed
the gas pipeline right of way at a distance
of about 8 m in the morning while he was
heading out for the day’s field activities (28
July, 07:38 h).
KIGCNP park guards report a number of addi-
tional observations of jaguars along the gas
pipeline right of way and access roads. Po-
pulation densities of jaguars in the park are
not as high as in other habitats such as the
Pantanal or the humid forests of Belize (Maf-
fei et al. 2011). However, the protected area
is vast and extremely well conserved; access
to the gas pipeline right of way, which
crosses over 130 km of the national park, is
controlled by pipeline staff and park guards
so that no hunting or colonization takes
place. According to the protected area’s co-
management measures between park and
pipeline managers, vehicle traffic is strictly
restricted in number, type of vehicle, num-
ber of passengers and to daytime hours and
Fig. 3. Kaaiyana in the 2005-2006 camera trap survey (Photo WCS-Bolivia).
Table 1. Number of photos per individual and per survey.
E1 M Kaaiyana E2 F E3 M E4 M E5 M E6 Juv Total
Oct-Dec 2005 15 8 4 27
Jul-Sep 2006 2 10 2 27 2 43
CATnews 57 Autumn 2012
dry conditions. The experience with Kaaiya-
na suggests that jaguars – and therefore
presumably other large mammals frequently
observed in the area, including the endemic
Chacoan peccaries, white-lipped peccaries,
lowland tapirs, gray brocket deer, and giant
armadillos – have adapted to the presence
of the pumping station and airstrip and the
associated human activity.
This article has been made possible thanks to the
support of the United States Agency for Interna-
tional Development (USAID/Bolivia Cooperative
Agreement No. 511-A-00-01-00005), the Liz Clai-
borne and Art Ortenberg Foundation, the Beneficia
Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Founda-
tion, and the Kaa-Iya Foundation. The opinions ex-
pressed here are those of the authors and do not
necessarily represent the criteria of USAID. We
also thank CABI, the KIGCNP, DGB, and SERNAP
for supporting our work.
Cavalcanti S. M. C. 2008. Predator-prey relati-
onships and spatial ecology of jaguars in the
southern Pantanal, Brazil: implications for con-
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1 Parque Nacional Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco, Calle
Gabriel José Moreno Nº 42, Barrio Morita,
Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia
2 Free-lance photographer, Calle Simon Bolivar
43, Barrio Saguapac, Santa Cruz de la Sierra,
3 Centro de Investigación en Biodiversidad y
Recursos Naturales (BIORENA), Facultad de
Ciencias Agrarias, Universidad de San Fran-
cisco Xavier de Chuquisaca, Calle Calvo 132,
Sucre, Bolivia
4 Jaguar Conservation Program, WCS, Arias
Aragüez 152, Urbanización San Antonio, Lima
18, Peru
5 Museo de Historia Natural Noel Kempff-Mer-
cado, Casilla # 5300, Santa Cruz de la Sierra,
6 Department of Geography, University of Florida,
P.O. Box 117315, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
Cuéllar et al.
Fig. 4. 16 August 2006: male E5 did not appear in the first survey in 2005, but was pho-
tographed 27 times during the second survey in 2006, including once in the company of
Kaaiyana on 8 August 2006 (Photo WCS-Bolivia).
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
Las poblaciones de felinos Neotropicales están constantemente amenazadas principalmente por la destrucción de hábitats y el conflicto depredadores-ganaderos. En el presente estudio se realizaron dos muestreos para estimar las densidades de jaguares (Panthera onca) pumas (Puma concolor), ocelotes (Leopardus pardalis) y gatos monteses (Leopardus geoffroyi) en dos sitios del Parque Nacional Kaa-Iya, donde ya se han realizado estudios previos con trampas cámara en cinco campamentos. Uno de los sitios de estudio, Estación Isoso, fue estudiado en la previa estación húmeda, mientras que el otro, Palmar de las Islas, representa un nuevo sitio de investigación ya que no se lo había estudiado anteriormente y tiene la peculiaridad de presentar influencia de ganadería en sus márgenes. Además de las estimaciones poblacionales, este tipo de muestreos son útiles para estudiar otros parámetros ecológicos y de comportamiento, como la separación temporal entre especies y el solapamiento espacial. Los jaguares y pumas exhibieron en Palmar las densidades (en N° de individuos /100 km2 ±EE) más bajas halladas hasta ahora en el Chaco (1,30 ±0,22 y 2,13 ±0,89, respectivamente), mientras que los ocelotes mostraron algunas de sus densidades más altas en este sitio (66,00 ±14,91). En Estación Isoso II, por otro, lado los jaguares y pumas tuvieron densidades cercanas al promedio del Chaco (3,93 ±2,30 y 4,25 ±1,24, respectivamente), mientras que los ocelotes mostraron una de las menores densidades del Chaco (5,86 ±2,88). En este sitio el gato montés tuvo densidades relativamente bajas (10,85 ±3,58), mientras que no fue posible estimar sus densidades en Palmar. Los jaguares y pumas de Palmar estuvieron activos de día y noche, mientras que los ocelotes y gatos monteses de ambos muestreos fueron principalmente nocturnos y los yaguarundis (Puma yagouaroundi) fueron principalmente diurnos. Sin embargo, en Estación Isoso II (época seca), los jaguares fueron principalmente nocturnos mientras que los pumas fueron principalmente diurnos. Esto es indicativo de una separación temporal entre ambas especies probablemente debida al incremento de la competencia en la época seca de este sitio. En cuanto al comportamiento espacial, existió un amplio solapamiento entre individuos de todas las especies e individuos de diferentes especies tanto al observar sus áreas mínimas de acción como al evaluar el número de individuos de cada especie en cada estación de trampas-cámara. La densidad de los ocelotes tuvo una relación negativa significativa con la densidad de grandes felinos (jaguares + pumas) a través del Chaco, lo que sugiere que estas especies imponen cierto límite al crecimiento poblacional de los ocelotes a través de interacciones de competencia. Ninguna otra relación entre especies fue significativa. Esto, sumado a las densidades de Palmar, sugieren que la ganadería, junto a los problemas que generalmente la acompañan, como el conflicto depredadores-ganaderos y depleción de presas, podría ser un factor que influya negativamente a las poblaciones de grandes felinos, los que con sus bajas abundancias crean un escenario para una compensación de densidades en el ocelote, que exhibe sus mayores densidades en este sitio. Esto, a su vez, puede causar efectos en cascada en otros carnívoros. El PN Kaa-Iya podría funcionar como fuente y sus alrededores como sumidero, lo que hace que sea importante incrementar los esfuerzos binacionales de conservación de estas poblaciones de gatos globalmente importantes.
Full-text available
ABSTRACT The Gran Chaco in the department of Santa Cruz in Bolivia is scientifically understood. The recent creation of the "Kaa-lya" Gran Chaco National Park, one of the largest protected areas in the neotropics, increases the interest in the region and requires additional scientific information about the vegetation and flora. As a result of a phytosociological study: using the Braun-Blanquet methodology with a dynamic-zonal and landscape ecology approach, four landscape systems and 16 vegetation series have been identified. AII of them have been described and characterized. The main vegetation segregation factors are the intensity of bioclimatic aridity: level and extent of soil drainage, and past philogenetic and biogeographic origins of the flora and vegetation.
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Since camera traps were first used to estimate the density of tiger Panthera tigris populations in India (Karanth 1995; see also Karanth et al. this volume), this methodology has been widely used to study a variety of species: leopards Panthera pardus (Henschel and Ray 2003; Karanth et al. this volume; Kostyria et al. 2003), snow leopards Panthera uncia (Jackson et al. 2006), pumas Puma concolor (Kelly et al. 2008), ocelots Leopardus pardalis (Di Bitetti et al. 2006, 2008; Dillon and Kelly 2007, 2008; Maffei et al. 2005; Trolle and Kéry 2003, 2005), and Geoffroy’s cats Oncifelis geoffroyi (Cuéllar et al. 2006; Pereira et al. 2006). However, jaguars Panthera onca have probably received the most attention with respect to using camera traps to estimate the abundance and density of populations that cover the species’ entire Neotropical range (Cullen et al. 2005; Kelly 2003; Maffei et al. 2004b; Miller and Miller 2005; Silver et al. 2004; Soisalo and Cavalcanti 2006). To date, at least 83 different camera trapping efforts have been carried out to survey jaguars, from southern Arizona in the north to northern Argentina in the south. In this chapter, we describe the details of this methodology – summarizing information on survey design and methodologies, results, data manipulation and analyses – and discuss how future surveys can be refined to allow for more robust inferences.
Full-text available
Sampling animal populations with camera traps has become increasingly popular over the past two decades, particularly for species that are cryptic, elusive, exist at low densities or range over large areas. The results have been widely used to estimate population size and density. We analyzed data from 13 camera trap surveys conducted at five sites across the Kaa-Iya landscape, Bolivian Chaco, for jaguar, puma, ocelot and lowland tapir. We compared two spatially explicit capture–recapture (SCR) software packages: secr, a likelihood-based approach, and SPACECAP, a Bayesian approach, both of which are implemented within the R environment and can be used to estimate animal density from photographic records of individual animals that simultaneously employ spatial information about the capture location relative to the sample location. As a non-spatial analy- sis, we used the program CAPTURE 2 to estimate abundance from the capture– recapture records of individuals identified through camera trap photos combined with an ad hoc estimation of the effective survey area to estimate density. SCR methods estimated jaguar population densities from 0.31 to 1.82 individuals per 100 km2 across the Kaa-Iya sites; puma from 0.36 to 7.99; ocelot from 1.67 to 51.7; and tapir from 7.38 to 42.9. Density estimates using either secr or SPACECAP were generally lower than the estimates generated using the non-spatial method for all surveys and species; and density estimates usingSPACECAPwere generally lower than that using secr. We recommend using either secr or SPACECAP because the spatially explicit methods are not biased by an informal estimation of an effective survey area. Although SPACECAP and secr are less sensitive than non-spatial methods to the size of the grid used for sampling, we recommend grid sizes several times larger than the average home range (known or estimated) of the target species.
Full-text available
The Pantanal wetland of Brazil is an important area for the conservation of jaguars (Panthera onca) and a stronghold for the species. Although our knowledge of jaguar ecology has increased since the first field studies in the mid 1980’s, a detailed study of this cryptic species remains challenging. In the following chapters, we investigated the ecology of jaguars in the southern Pantanal of Brazil. In Chapter II, we examined the foraging ecology of jaguars, documenting predation rates, patterns, and species killed. We found individual jaguars differed in the selection of their prey. There were differences in the proportion of native prey versus cattle killed by individual cats. We found that cattle (31.7%), caiman (24.4%), and peccaries (21.0%) comprised the majority of their kills. The mean predation rate on all prey for all jaguars combined was 5.1 ± 5.0 (SD) days between kills. In Chapter III, we described jaguar habitat use and spatial patterns of predation in relation to vegetation and other landscape attributes. Jaguars used some habitats disproportionatelly to their availability both in the wet and dry seasons. Forest and shrubland habitats were generally selected by jaguars. However, the type of vegetation did not have an influence on the locations of prey killed. Contrary to expectations, jaguars did not select forested habitats nor did they avoid open fields to make kills, but killed prey in these habitats proportionatelly to their availability. Our results do not support earlier findings about jaguar habitat use in the southern Pantanal but illustrate the highly opportunistic nature of jaguars. In Chapter IV, we examined space use, site stability and fidelity, movement rates, and interactions of jaguars. Our results suggested a pattern of spatial avoidance among females during the wet season. Among males, home range overlap was extensive, both in the wet and dry seasons, suggesting males did not retain exclusive ranges. Our study provided insights into the dynamic land tenure system of jaguars. Future research would benefit from radio-collaring a large number of individuals and monitoring them over a longer time span to provide a better understanding of their spatial ecology and social interactions.
The Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National Park and Integrated Management Area was established in September 1995. At 3.44 million hectares it is one of South America's largest protected areas. The tropical dry forest of the Chaco, which this reserve protects, is Bolivia's most threatened major lowland habitat type. With the creation of this reserve the protected-area coverage of the Gran Chaco increased to 4.7 per cent. With at least 69 species of mammals (the Chiroptera have not yet been surveyed), it is one of the richest Neotropical sites for this taxonomic group. The Kaa-Iya park is being administered by the Izoceño-Guaraní Indian organization, the Capitanía del Alto y Bajo Izozog, and puts community-based conservation into practice. Threats to the park include encroachment by colonists, ranchers and farmers; the Bolivia–Brazil gas pipeline; and hunting.
Five adult male Jaguars and a translocated subadult female Jaguar were captured and followed by radio-telemetry in Cockscomb Basin, Belize. One adult male Jaguar, two resident female Jaguars, and a Puma were followed only by their tracks. Radio-collared males maintained overlapping ranges of 28–40 km2, while resident females moved in minimum areas of 10 km2 within the ranges of individual males. Despite range overlap, evidence of aggression or sign of more than one large cat in the same area simultaneously was uncommon. Such avoidance behaviour suggested some means of communication. Visual marking in the form of faeces and scrapes were found uncovered along roads and trails in areas of overlap between the cats; such marking could have helped in boundary delineation as well as spatial and temporal positioning. Males often remained in small areas of 2·5 km2 for up to two weeks, a behaviour made possible by abundant prey. This behaviour may have facilitated avoidance with other Jaguars. Faecal analysis indicated opportunistic feeding on 17 prey species. Armadillo, Paca and brocket deer accounted for 94% of the available terrestrial prey and comprised 70% of the identified prey in the faeces. All Jaguars were primarily nocturnal, though activity varied between animals. The translocated female showed changes in activity patterns when feeding upon cattle. At least one Puma travelled within the ranges of several male Jaguars and appeared to be feeding on smaller prey items. The behavioural and ecological plasticity exhibited by the Jaguars in this study is beneficial for an animal whose habitat is rapidly diminishing.
This paper reports on efforts to trap jaguars Panthera onca on camera in the dry forests of the Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National Park in Bolivia. Ad hoc camera trapping provided certain information on jaguar presence and habits, but was limited in application. Activity patterns showed that jaguars are active all day, particularly at one of three sites, with peaks in the morning and evening the more common pattern. Minimum observed home range was variable, with males (up to 65 km2) occupying more area than females (up to 29 km2). The authors adapted systematic methodologies first developed to survey tigers in India, based on individually distinctive pelage patterns in tigers and jaguars. Abundance is estimated using capture–recapture statistical analysis, and a sample area defined based on the maximum distance that individual jaguars move during the sample period. The methodology has proved successful for jaguars in dry Chaco forest, population densities of 1/30–45 km2 and 1/20 km2 are estimated in the two most extensive landscape systems of Kaa-Iya. The entire 34 400 km2 protected area is estimated to sustain a population of over 1000 adult and juvenile jaguars, the largest single population of jaguar reported anywhere, and a viable population for long-term jaguar conservation.
The jaguar (Panthera onca) is the largest feline in the Americas and third largest world-wide, smaller in size only to the tiger (P. tigris) and lion (P. leo). Yet, in comparison, relatively few studies on jaguar population densities have been conducted and baseline data for management purposes are needed. Camera trapping and capture–recapture sampling methods were used to estimate the size of a jaguar population in the Pantanal’s open wet grassland habitat, an important area for the long-term survival of the species. This study is the first jaguar population estimate conducted in co-operation with a GPS-telemetry study providing an important opportunity for comparing different methods of density estimation. An accessible area within a 460 km2 privately-owned ranch was sampled with equal effort during the dry seasons of 2003 and 2004. Thirty-one and twenty-five individual jaguars were identified in 2003 and 2004, respectively. Estimates of jaguar abundance were generated by program CAPTURE. Density estimates were produced according to different methods used to calculate the effectively sampled areas which ranged from 274 to 568 km2. For 2003, the currently-used mean maximum distance moved (MMDM) method produced a density of 10.3 jaguars/100 km2, while GPS-telemetry-based calculations produced a mean density of 6.6 jaguars/100 km2. For 2004, the MMDM method produced an estimate of 11.7 jaguars/100 km2 while GPS-telemetry calculations produced a density of 6.7 jaguars/100 km2. Our results suggest that the widely-used MMDM method used to calculate effectively sampled areas is significantly under-reflecting maximum distances moved by jaguars and their range-use and, thereby, considerably inflating cat density estimates. This overestimation could place a population in a difficult situation by lengthening the time taken to initiate protection measures because of underestimating the risk to that population.