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Livestock predation by jaguars Panthera onca in south-eastern Mexico: the role of local peoples’ practices

  • Juan L. Peña-Mondragón (a1), Alicia Castillo (a1), Almira Hoogesteijn (a2) and Enrique Martínez-Meyer (a3)

Inadequate livestock husbandry practices threaten the maintenance of global biodiversity and provoke conflicts between people and wildlife, and large carnivorous mammals are among the most affected. The jaguar Panthera onca is one of the most threatened species in the Americas, being targeted by livestock producers who suffer economic losses as a result of predation. The way in which rural producers in countries such as Mexico conduct husbandry practices may influence levels of predation by jaguars. Our objective was to understand how such practices are conducted in the Selva Lacandona in south-eastern Mexico, to identify their influence on the vulnerability of livestock to predation by jaguars. We characterized local husbandry practices through participant observation, interviews and surveys. Our results show that the most important practices that make livestock vulnerable to predation include the location of grazing lands close to forested areas and water sources, the absence of practices for the proper disposal of carcasses, and poor control of calving and care of calves. Our recommendations include monitoring of livestock movements and synchronization of calving. Economic investment and behavioural change can be accomplished through capacity building and providing people with the means to monitor and manage their livestock. Small actions can reduce livestock losses and improve the economic circumstances of rural people, and thus increase their tolerance and respect towards jaguars.

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