Skip to main content

Population status of the jaguar Panthera onca in one of its last strongholds in the Atlantic Forest

  • Ana Carolina Srbek-Araujo (a1) and Adriano Garcia Chiarello (a2)

Remaining jaguar Panthera onca populations in the Atlantic Forest are restricted to eight regions, and all populations appear to be declining. We report on the status of one of the last populations in south-eastern Brazil. We monitored this population with camera traps during June 2005–January 2013 in Vale Natural Reserve. We estimated an abundance of 9 ± SE 1.98 jaguars (95% CI 9–17) and a population density of 3.22 ± SE 1.58 individuals per 100 km2 (95% CI 1.29–7.98). Annual survival probability over a 5-year interval was 78% (95% CI 58–98) and the recapture probability was 62% (95% CI 42–79). Although our results are among the highest densities reported for the jaguar in this biome, the future of the population is threatened by genetic deterioration and local threats, including the expansion of an existing highway and depletion of the jaguar's native prey base as a result of poaching, and will depend upon urgent implementation of conservation actions. The necessary actions include establishing gene flow with other compatible populations, increasing surveillance against poaching, continuing population monitoring of jaguars and their main prey species, and implementing mitigation measures in relation to the impacts of the highway on local fauna.

Corresponding author
(Corresponding author) E-mail
Hide All
* Current address: Programa de Pós-graduação em Ecologia de Ecossistemas, Universidade Vila Velha, Rua Comissário José Dantas de Melo, no. 21, Bairro Boa Vista, Vila Velha, Espírito Santo, CEP 29.102-920, Brazil
Hide All
Astete, S. (2008) Ecologia da onça-pintada nos Parques Nacionais Serra da Capivara e Serra das Confusões, Piauí. MSc thesis. Universidade de Brasília, Brasília, Brazil. Http:// [accessed 16 August 2014].
Astete, S. (2012) Ecologia e conservação da onça-pintada e da onça-parda no Parque Nacional Serra da Capivara, Piauí. PhD thesis. Universidade de Brasília, Brasília, Brazil. Http:// [accessed 16 August 2014].
Beisiegel, B.M., Sana, D.A. & Moraes, E.A. Jr (2012) The jaguar in the Atlantic Forest. Cat News Special Issue, 7, 1418.
Burnham, K.P. & Anderson, D.R. (1998) Model Selection and Multimodel Inference: A Practical Information-Theoretic Approach. 2nd edition. Springer-Verlag, New York, USA.
Caso, A., Lopez-Gonzalez, C., Payan, E., Eizirik, E., de Oliveira, T., Leite-Pitman, R. et al. (2008) Panthera onca. In The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T15953A5327466. Http:// [accessed 10 November 2015].
Cavalcanti, S.M.C., Azevedo, F.C.C., Tomás, W.M., Boulhosa, R.L.P. & Crawshaw, P.G. Jr (2012) The status of the jaguar in the Pantanal. Cat News Special Issue, 7, 2934.
Chiarello, A.G. (2000) Influência da caça ilegal sobre mamíferos e aves das matas de tabuleiro do norte do estado do Espírito Santo. Boletim do Museu de Biologia Mello Leitão, 11/12, 229247.
Conde, D.A., Colchero, F., Zarza, H., Christensen, N.L. Jr, Sexton, J.O., Manterola, C. et al. (2010) Sex matters: modeling male and female habitat differences for jaguar conservation. Biological Conservation, 143, 19801988.
Cooch, E. & White, G.C. (2012) Program MARK: A Gentle Introduction. Cornell University, New York, USA.
Cormack, R.M. (1964) Estimates of survival from the sighting of marked animals. Biometrika, 51, 429438.
Crawshaw, P.G. Jr (1995) Comparative ecology of ocelot (Felis pardalis) and jaguar (Panthera onca) in a protected subtropical forest in Brazil and Argentina. PhD thesis. University of Florida, Gainesville, USA. Http:// [accessed 16 August 2014].
Cullen, L. Jr (2006) Jaguars as landscape detectives for the conservation of Atlantic Forests in Brazil. PhD thesis. University of Kent, Canterbury, UK. Http:// [accessed 16 August 2014].
Cullen, L. Jr, Sana, D.A., Lima, F., Abreu, K.C. & Uezu, A. (2013) Selection of habitat by the jaguar, Panthera onca (Carnivora: Felidae), in the upper Paraná River, Brazil. Zoologia, 30, 379387.
Cunha de Padua, R., Desdiez, A. & Cavalcanti, S.M.C. (eds) (2013) Plano de Ação Nacional para a Conservação da Onça-pintada. Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade, Brasília, Brazil. Http:// [accessed 24 October 2014].
Dillon, A. & Kelly, M.J. (2007) Ocelot Leopardus pardalis in Belize: the impact of trap spacing and distance moved on density estimates. Oryx, 41, 469477.
Efford, M.G., Dawson, D.K. & Robbins, C.S. (2004) DENSITY: software for analysing capture–recapture data from passive detector arrays. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation, 27, 217228.
Facure, K.G. & Giaretta, A.A. (1996) Food habits of carnivores in a coastal Atlantic forest of southeastern Brazil. Mammalia, 60, 499502.
Ferraz, K.M.P.M.B., Beisiegel, B.M., Paula, R.C., Sana, D.A., Campos, C.B., Oliveira, T.G. & Desbiez, A.L.J. (2012) How species distribution models can improve cat conservation—jaguars in Brazil. Cat News Special Issue, 7, 3842.
FSOSMA & INPE (2014) Atlas dos Remanescentes Florestais da Mata Atlântica—Período 2012–2013. Fundação SOS Mata Atlântica & Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, São Paulo, Brazil. Http:// [accessed 18 December 2014].
Galetti, M., Eizirik, E., Beisiegel, B., Ferraz, K., Cavalcanti, S., Srbek-Araujo, A.C. et al. (2013) Atlantic rainforest's jaguars in decline. Science, 342, 930.
Galetti, M., Giacomini, H.C., Bueno, R.S., Bernardo, C.S.S., Marques, R.M., Bovendorp, R.S. et al. (2009) Priority areas for the conservation of Atlantic Forest large mammals. Biological Conservation, 142, 12291241.
Jolly, G.M. (1965) Explicit estimates from capture–recapture data with both death and immigration–stochastic model. Biometrika, 52, 225247.
Karanth, K.U. (1995) Estimating tiger Panthera tigris populations from camera-trap data using capture–recapture models. Biological Conservation, 71, 333338.
Karanth, K.U. (2002) Monitoring Tigers and Their Prey: A Manual for Wildlife Researchers, Managers and Conservationists in Tropical Asia. Centre for Wildlife Studies, Bangalore, India.
Karanth, K.U. & Nichols, J.D. (1998) Estimation of tiger densities in India using photographic captures and recaptures. Ecology, 79, 28522862.
Karanth, K.U., Nichols, J.D., Kumar, N.S. & Hines, J.E. (2006) Assessing tiger population dynamics using photographic capture–recapture sampling. Ecology, 87, 29252937.
Karanth, K.U., Nichols, J.D., Kumar, N.S., Link, W.A. & Hines, J.E. (2004) Tigers and their prey: predicting carnivore densities from prey abundance. PNAS, 101, 48544858.
Lorenzutti, R. & Almeida, A.P. (2006) A coleção de mamíferos do Museu Elias Lorenzutti em Linhares, Estado do Espírito Santo, Brasil. Boletim do Museu de Biologia Mello Leitão, 19, 5974.
Oliveira, T.G., Ramalho, E.E. & Paula, R.C. (2012) Red List assessment of the jaguar in Brazilian Amazonia. Cat News Special Issue, 7, 813.
Otis, D.L., Burnham, K.P., White, G.C. & Anderson, D.R. (1978) Statistical inference from capture data on closed animal populations. Wildlife Monographs, 62, 1135.
Paviolo, A., De Angelo, C.D., Di Blanco, Y.E. & Di Bitetti, M.S. (2008) Jaguar Panthera onca population decline in the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest of Argentina and Brazil. Oryx, 42, 554561.
Powell, L.A. (2007) Approximating variance of demographic oarameters using the Delta method: a reference for avian biologists. The Condor, 109, 949954.
Ramalho, E.E. (2012) Jaguar (Panthera onca) population dynamics, feeding ecology, human induced mortality, and conservation in the Várzea Floodplain Forests of Amazonia. PhD thesis. University of Florida, Gainesville, USA. Http:// [accessed 16 August 2014].
Ribeiro, M.C., Metzger, J.P., Martensen, A.C., Ponzoni, F.J. & Hirota, M.M. (2009) The Brazilian Atlantic Forest: how much is left, and how is the remaining forest distributed? Implications for conservation. Biological Conservation, 142, 11411153.
Salom-Pérez, R., Carrillo, E., Sáenz, J.C. & Mora, J.M. (2007) Critical condition of the jaguar Panthera onca population in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica. Oryx, 41, 5156.
Sanderson, E.W., Redford, K.H., Chetkiewicz, C.-L., Medellin, R.A., Rabinowitz, A.R., Robinson, J.G. & Taber, A.B. (2002) Planning to save a species: the jaguar as a model. Conservation Biology, 16, 5872.
Schaller, G.B. (1972) The Serengeti Lion: A Study of Predator–Prey Relations. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, USA.
Seber, G.A.F. (1965) A note on the multiple-recapture census. Biometrika, 52, 249259.
Seymour, K.L. (1989) Panthera onca . Mammalian Species, 340, 19.
Silveira, L. & Crawshaw, P. Jr (2008). Panthera onca Linnaeus, 1758. In Livro Vermelho da Fauna Brasileira Ameaçada de Extinção (eds Machado, A.B.M., Drummond, G.M. & Paglia, A.P.), pp. 793794. Ministério do Meio Ambiente and Fundação Biodiversitas, Brasília and Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Silver, S.C., Ostro, L.E.T., Marsh, L.K., Maffei, L., Noss, A.J., Kelly, M.J. et al. (2004) The use of camera traps for estimating jaguar (Panthera onca) abundance and density using capture/recapture analysis. Oryx, 38, 148154.
Soisalo, M.K. & Cavalcanti, S.M.C. (2006) Estimating the density of a jaguar population in the Brazilian Pantanal using camera-traps and capture–recapture sampling in combination with GPS radio-telemetry. Biological Conservation, 129, 487496.
Sollmann, R., Furtado, M.M., Gardner, B., Hofer, H., Jácomo, A.T.A., Tôrres, N.M. & Silveira, L. (2011) Improving density estimates for elusive carnivores: accounting for sex-specific detection and movements using spatial capture–recapture models for jaguars in central Brazil. Biological Conservation, 144, 10171024.
Srbek-Araujo, A.C. (2013) Conservação da Onça-pintada (Panthera onca Linnaeus, 1758) na Mata Atlântica de Tabuleiro do Espírito Santo. PhD thesis. Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Http:// [accessed 16 August 2014].
Srbek-Araujo, A.C. & Chiarello, A.G. (2005) Is camera-trapping an efficient method for surveying mammals in Neotropical forests? A case study in south-eastern Brazil. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 21, 121125.
Srbek-Araujo, A.C. & Chiarello, A.G. (2013) Influence of camera-trap sampling design on mammal species capture rates and community structures in southeastern Brazil. Biota Neotropica, 13, 5162.
Srbek-Araujo, A.C., Mendes, S.L. & Chiarello, A.G. (2015) Jaguar (Panthera onca Linnaeus, 1758) roadkill in Brazilian Atlantic Forest and implications for species conservation. Brazilian Journal of Biology, 75, 581586.
Stanley, T.R. & Burnham, K.P. (1999) A closure test for time-specific capture–recapture data. Environmental and Ecological Statistics, 6, 197209.
Torre, J.A. & Medellín, R.A. (2011) Jaguars Panthera onca in the Greater Lacandona Ecosystem, Chiapas, Mexico: population estimates and future prospects. Oryx, 45, 546553.
Tôrres, N.M., Marco, P. Jr, Diniz Filho, J.A.F. & Silveira, L. (2008) Jaguar distribution in Brazil: past, present and future. Cat News Special Issue, 4, 48.
Trolle, M. & Kéry, M. (2005) Camera-trap study of ocelot and other secretive mammals in the northern Pantanal. Mammalia, 69, 405412.
Utida, S. (1957) Population fluctuation, an experimental and theoretical approach. Cold Spring Harbor Symposium on Quantitative Biology, 22, 139151.
Wallace, R.B., Gomez, H., Ayala, G. & Espinoza, F. (2003) Camera trapping for jaguar (Panthera onca) in the Tuichi Valley, Bolivia. Mastozoologia Neotropical/Journal of Tropical Mammalogy, 10, 133139.
White, G.C., Anderson, D.R., Burnham, K.P. & Otis, D.L. (1982) Capture–recapture and Removal Methods for Sampling Closed Populations. Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, USA.
White, G.C. & Burnham, K.P. (1999) Program MARK: survival estimation from populations of marked animals. Bird Study, 46(Suppl.), 120138.
Zeller, K.A. (2007) Jaguars in the New Millennium Data Set Update: The State of the Jaguar in 2006. Wildlife Conservation Society, New York, USA. Http:// [accessed 16 August 2014].
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0030-6053
  • EISSN: 1365-3008
  • URL: /core/journals/oryx
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 35
Total number of PDF views: 142 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 732 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 21st March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.