Jaguar Corridor Initiative – Atlantic Rainforest

Nowadays, the jaguar (Panthera onca) persists in less than half of its original distribution area (Sanderson et al. 2002) and is classified as critically endangered species in the state of São Paulo (Bressan et al. 2009). Until recently, jaguars were divided into 8 subspecies (Pocock 1939). However, late studies about genetic variability have shown absence of significant genetic isolation along the species distribution area (Eizirick et al. 2001). This does not justify the subdivision of species and suggests that dispersion among populations still occur. For this reason, there is an urgency to elaborate large-scale conservation strategies for the jaguars through characterization of important existing areas for the species, and implementation of ecological corridors for preservation of distinct ecological populations.

Today, there are 90 identified areas considered important for the survival of the jaguar in the long term, or AJCs (area of jaguar conservation) (Zeller 2007). The Atlantic Rainforest, one of the 5 most threatened biodiversity hotspots in the world (Myers et al. 2000), is considered an AJC of top priority for the species conservation (Zeller 2007). It presents a population of few individuals, but with appropriate habitats and sufficient preys to maintain a population (Sanderson et al. 2002). This study aims to characterize and determine if this AJC is viable for the species persistence in the end. The results of this research will subsidize important decisions related to future works with jaguars in the biome, i.e., if additional resources should be destined to conservation actions for jaguars or if the limited resources should be destined to other areas of the species distribution.



Evaluate jaguar distribution and their preys in the Atlantic Rainforest to define later, specific areas for population density survey with camera traps.



The area studied covers the Costal Atlantic Rainforest of São Vicente (SP) to Morretes (PR). Considering the Atlantic Rainforest is home to a large portion of the Brazilian population, the use of conventional detection methods are not practical for the dimension of this study. For this reason, we based this stage of the study in the application of questionnaires on the local residents. The study area was overlaid with a grid containing 264 squares of 90 km2 each, considering the living area of a female jaguar (Beiseigel, unpublished data). The grid was stratified in terms of habitat type (montane, submontane and plain rainforests), and fragmentation level (high, medium and low). Subsequently, they were randomly chosen in a proportional matter within each class, 75 squares for sampling total. Striving for future occupation analyses, we defined a minimal of 5 interviews per square, based on a 0,5 Confidence Interval and 0,4 Probability of Detection (MacKenzie & Royle 2005). The questionnaires were based on MacKenzie & Royle (2005) and considered indirect (footprints and carcasses of preyed animals) and direct (spotting and vocalization) evidence of jaguars. It also included questions about the distribution of 9 species of preys  (agouti – Dasyprocta agouti, White-lipped peccaris – Tayassu pecari, collared peccaris – Tayassu tajacu, gray brocket – Mazama spp., tapir – Tapirus terrestris, capybara – Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris, lowland paca – Agouti paca, coati – Nasua nasua, armadillo – Dasypodidae sp.). Data from the past 5 years on the jaguars were divided in year #1 (last 12 months), year #2 (13 to 24 months ago) and Year #3-5 (24 to 60 months ago). In order to test the reliability of the answers, boards with animal pictures and drawings of real sized footprints were shown to each respondent.



Bressan, P., Kierulff, M., & A. Sugieda. 2009. Fauna Ameaçada de Extinção no Estado de São Paulo. Vertebrados. Fundação Parque Zoológico de São Paulo, SEMA.
Eizirik, E., Kim, J., Raymond, M., Crawshaw, P., OBrien, S., & W. Johnson. 2001. Phylogeography, population history and conservation genetics of jaguars (Panthera onca, Mammalia, Felidae). Molecular Ecology 10:65–79.
MacKenzie D., Nichols, J., Lachman, G., Droege, S., Royle J., & C. Langtimm. 2002. Estimating site occupancy rates when detection probabilities are less than one. Ecology, 83(8), pp. 2248–2255.
Myers, N., Mittermeier, R., Mittermeier, C., Fonseca, G., & J. Kent. 2000. Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priority. Nature 403:24.
Pocock, R. 1939. The races of jaguar (Panthera onca). Novitates Zoologicae 41:406–422.
Rabinowitz A., & K. Zeller. 2010. A range-wide model of landscape connectivity and conservation for the jaguar, Panthera onca. Biological Conservation 143:939–945.
Sanderson, E., Redford, K., Chetkiewicz, C., Medellin, R., Rabinowitz, A., Robinson, J.,& A. Taber. 2002. Planning to saving a species: the jaguar as a model. Conservation Biology 16:58-71.
Zeller, K. 2007. Jaguars in the New Millennium Data Set Update: The State of the Jaguar in 2006. Wildlife Conservation Society.

Operational area


Responsible team

Project’s coordenador:

Sandra M. C. Cavalcanti, Ph.D. – Instituto Pró-Carnívoros



Sandra M. C. Cavalcanti, Ph.D.
Érica Vanessa Maggiorini, bióloga
Míriam Lúcia Lages Perilli, MSc.
Howard B. Quigley, Ph.D.
Kathy Ziegler, Ph.D.
Sahil Nijhawan, analista GIS

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