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After starting a thread on Tapirs I noticed that there wasn’t one for their principal predator in Central and South America the majestic jaguar and thought it was time to start one as there are already threads on most of the other big cats. Sometime ago I did have ago through my jaguar photos comparing their rosette patterns to some of the jaguars in other member’s reports but didn’t find any that matched. Perhaps if enough photos are added to this thread I will have another go and actually find that others who’ve been to Brazil have in fact photographed the same jaguars that I have, or at least that the same jaguars appear in more than one report. If you have any photos or videos of jaguars please add them to this thread. The jaguar (Panthera onca) largest of the New World cats once ranged from Uruguay in the south as far north as the U.S. state of Colorado but past hunting for skins, relentless persecution by livestock farmers and major habitat destruction has severely reduced and fragmented their range. They’re now extinct in Uruguay and El Salvador and although occasional itinerant males have been seen in Arizona jaguars are no longer breeding in the USA. The barriers being put up along the US/Mexican border in the form of walls and fences to keep out two legged immigrants from Central America will obviously also keep out the four legged kind. So even if proper protection allows the population of jaguars in Sonora in the north of Mexico to expand they will not be able to recolonise the US if they can’t cross the border. It’s very unlikely that any attempt will be made to reintroduce jaguars so it will be a long time before they’re back breeding in the US if at all. Interestingly if you zoom in on this Range Map there are several spots shown in Arizona you can also see just how close the most northerly Mexican population is to the border. Here’s a link to the Northern Jaguar Project who are striving to protect these jaguars in Northern Jaguar Reserve in Sonora. Jaguars are generally very elusive animals so throughout most of their range they are very difficult to see, though they are seen reasonably often in the Manu area of Peru, the Iwokrama Forest in Guyana and in the Llanos of Venezuela and very occasionally in parts of Costa Rica like Corcovado NP. There is however one area where you can be reasonably certain of seeing them, the Brazilian Pantanal specifically along the Rio Cuiaba and Rio Paraguai, if you really want to see wild jaguars then this part of Brazil has to be you’re first port of call. My report Brazil, Birds, Beasts and Big Waters along with other Brazil trip reports and the photos in this thread should show just how great this region is for Jaguar sightings.
This report has been quite a long time in gestation partly because I decided to try and write everything first but perhaps mainly because although I didn’t take half as many photos as I did in Brazil I’ve decided to upload and include far more. In an attempt yet again to go for the record for the most photos in a trip report. Really I’ve just had so much else going on at the moment that I haven’t had time to finish properly editing my photos. I’ve decided if I don’t get on and post this it will be time to start on the next report, mind you it make me quite a long time to complete this as although I’ve more or less written everything I haven’t uploaded all the photos and doing that and then getting the links for all of them will take me some time, time that I don’t really have too much of at the moment. However I’ll try to get the first section posted and post the rest as and when I can. Originally the idea was to do a birding and primate tour of Sierra Leone, the trip was all planned and ready to go however unfortunately the necessary bird guide we needed to lead the tour wasn’t available and there aren’t as yet any Sierra Leonean guides capable of doing the job. Despite this the ground agent in Sierra Leone could still have operated the tour but it would have meant going without a guide, so on balance it seemed better to put Sierra Leone on hold and save the Diana monkeys and white-necked picathartes for another time and come up with a quick plan B. The most obvious choice was Ghana which would give me a good chance to see the white-necked picathartes and good many other West African birds and with luck some western mammals and also there are good Ghanaian guides. However to do a proper Ghana tour would require 3 weeks and on this occasion that was just too long, for various reasons this was going to have to be a 2 week trip. It would have to be somewhere that could be done well enough in that time without having to compromise too much and also because of Sierra Leone not working out it would be a last minute trip so it would need to be somewhere off the beaten track enough to stand a chance of being able to book a worthwhile tour at very short notice. Ideally somewhere new with lots of good birds and other wildlife and that would be a good place to be in late January and given the weather in the U.K. somewhere hot. This narrowed things down quite a bit and after effectively ruling out Africa, Guyana came to mind as somewhere that might just fit the bill almost perfectly.
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