The Caatinga is one of the Brazilian biomes most degraded and threatened by man. The unsustainable use of natural resources has led to a rapid loss of unique species, loss of key ecological processes and the formation of centres of desertification in many parts of the biome. Add to this the fact that less than 2% of its area is protected and very little is known about its biota.
Recently, the Ministry of Environment (MMA) through the Department of Water Resources (SRH) and Instituto Chico Mendes (ICMBio) conducted an extensive survey across the basin of the São Francisco River with the objective of identifying priority areas for conservation under the São Francisco Revitalization Program.
It fell to the National Research Centre for Conservation of Natural Predators (CENAP-ICMBio) to identify the priority actions for conservation of the mammals of the order Carnivora. Thus, CENAP proposed the creation of the “Corridor of the Jaguar”, seeking to identify areas of Caatinga able to guarantee the preservation of a viable population of the species and hence the Caatinga biome.
The project calls for studies of the ecology, population genetics, threats to the species and environmental education. The jaguar will serve as a landscape “detective”, assisting in the construction of a mosaic of conservation units that can form the “Corridor of the Jaguar”. At the same time jaguars will also be a “flagship” to attract public attention to the importance of biodiversity conservation. 10 animals will be captured for monitoring by radio telemetry, sniff dogs will be used to locate faeces for studies of population genetics, camera trapping will be conducted to determine population density and, finally, lectures will be given in public schools. The study area covers the interior of Piauí and Bahia, totalling about 2 million ha. The size and scope of this work requires the involvement of all sectors of society, from the execution of research activities and education and to financial support. Accordingly, governmental agencies: the MMA, SRH, ICMBio, CENAP and SEMARH-BA have roles both in the implementation and in providing financial support. Pro-Carnivores and the “Instituto Fazenda Tamanduá” work in technical and financial support respectively. PUC-RS will conduct the analysis of population genetics. We are seeking financial support in the private sector and we invite you to participate.