Conservation of Carnivores in Serra do Itajaí National Park, SC
The anthropic pressure exerted upon the Atlantic Rainforest has affected the conservation of carnivore mammals in the country, since out of the 26 known species in Brazil, 10 are threatened in the vulnerable category (MMA, 2003). The fact that Santa Catarina State presents a rugged relief in the dense ombrophilous forest domain assured the existence of important remaining forests for the biome´s preservation, such as Serra do Itajaí National Park (SINP), located entirely in Itajaí Valley with 57.374 ha area and in altitudes that vary from 80 to 1039 meters. The Park covers an area of nine cities (Apiúna, Ascurra, Blumenau, Botuverá, Gaspar, Guabiruba, Indaial, Presidente Nereu and Vidal Ramos), 32 communities located in the countryside and buffer zones, and 982,73 km of main roads and other trails that lead to different communities. To define the priorities of management and conservation based on assumptions strengthened by scientific data and enclosed by consensus of the subjects involved in the process, in 2006 the elaboration process of the Management Plan of SINP began and involved various Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA). The REA registered 11 species of Carnivora order, in which 40% are threatened with extinction, including the puma. However, serious registrations of pressure and threats on the local fauna were also noted, especially upon carnivores. Poaching and conflicts with properties located in the SINP and buffer zones are among the main problems. In all areas REA was accomplished, traces of poaching activity were registered. The most targeted species were exactly the main preys of the carnivores. Consequently, conflicts with the local populations have occurred since livestock became a new and accessible feeding resource for the carnivores.
During the Technical Meeting of Management Plan, in which analysts from CENAP and CPB participated, various measures to revert this situation were recommended. For these measures to be embraced, the execution of projects for the improvement in carnivore conservation in SINP became necessary. Therefore, in January 2009, the first step of the project occurred in partnership with CENAP and envisioned through PROECOS (PNUD/BRA/009). The main objective was hiring consultants to elaborate fund developments for specific projects aiming carnivore conservation in SINP. To obtain a general panorama, surveys were applied in the countryside and buffer zone communities in SINP about pressures, threats and perceptions upon wild carnivores. The data on poaching activities in the region proved to be the main threat and pressure.
This first diagnose reinforced that the only way to reverse the current situation is through information, awareness and monitoring, as well as gathering ecological data of carnivore population, especially on the puma and their main preys. Considering this, an experimental project is in progress since April about carnivore ecology. This step is being crucial to subsidize placement of 40 camera traps from CENAP that will be used in the first monitoring, planned to begin on February 2010. It is a result of the partnership established between the Conservation Unit and this Center on behalf of carnivore conservation. The activities with the communities demonstrated the need for continuance. For this reason, in Faxinal of Bepe, where the reports of puma predation were more frequent, monthly visits are being done. Through this, an open communication channel is kept between SINP and the community. The implementation of these activities in the first step of the project made it possible for an adequate planning of indispensable actions to assure carnivore (specially the puma) preservation of SINP.
Therefore, the project envisions the execution of three big goals for next year:
- Increase possibilities of maintaining reproductively viable populations of pumas, Puma concolor, in SINP;
- Minimize conflicts between pumas and human communities in SINP and surroundings;
- Educate countryside communities and SINP buffer zones citizens about the importance of the puma.
The following activities will be done to achieve these goals:
- Gathering of ecological data on P. concolor in CU countryside and surroundings;
- Protocol elaboration for species monitoring;
- Capacitation of staff and volunteers;
- Identification and mapping of properties with incidence of puma predation;
- Assistance to properties with these occurrences;
- Proposal of preventive measures;
- Registration of properties that do not possess resources to apply the measures;
- Capacitation of technicians of regional entities for assistance in cases of conflicts involving carnivores;
- Promotion of preventative and mitigation measures against predation;
- Evaluation of the community’s perception in the countryside and buffer zones of SINP concerning pumas;
- Awareness raising in communities about the importance of pumas and other carnivores.
To assure the conservation of the puma (Puma concolor) in Serra do Itajaí National Park region by collecting ecological data, minimizing conflicts and raising awareness in the communities
- Estimate puma population in SINP;
- Analyze species´ diet in the region;
- Analyze P. concolor exposure to parasitological agents;
- Identify areas of interest for puma preservation in SINP and surroundings;
- Elaborate a protocol of field methods for continuous monitoring of puma populations in SINP;
- Capacitate CU workers to perform this monitoring;
- Enable researchers and scholars from regional institutions to perform this monitoring;
- Identify and map 100% of the rural properties that present predation in their livestock by pumas in SINP region;
- Evaluate the perception of 100% of the countryside community of SIPN about pumas and their willingness to invest in the specie´s preservation;
- Evaluate the perception of 100% of the properties in Buffer Zones (those with livestock) in SINP about pumas and their willingness to invest in the species´ preservation;
- Carry out service visits to 100% of the properties that present conflicts of predation by pumas during the execution of this project;
- Promote preventative measures against predation in each visited property;
- Capacitation of technicians of regional entities for assistance in cases of conflicts and other occurrences that involve carnivore mammals, expanding the RENAP (National Network of Predation Service) participation in SINP region;
- Promote preventive and mitigation measures against predation together with rural unions and resident associations;
Educate local population about the importance of pumas in the ecological equilibrium.
Ronaldo Gonçalves Morato
Cintia Gizele Gruener – Consultora Técnica, PNUD/PNSI/ICMBio
Fábio André Faraco, Analista Ambiental, Chefe do PNSI/ICMBio;
Júlio Cesar de Souza Júnior, Médico Veterinário, FURB;
Tathiana Bagatini, Analista Ambiental, CENAP/ICMBio;
Lilian Bonjourne de Almeida, Analista Ambiental, CENAP/ICMBio.