One method, which Projeto Onçafari uses to assist in finding Jaguars, is by stopping and listening to nature. To humans, a Jaguar moving through the undergrowth is near impossible to see. It is like a ghost. However, the birds and other animals are much more alert than we are! Often from their elevated position, or with their superior eyesight, they are able to pick out the spotted ghost.
As soon as they see a potential predator they shout and scream, sending alarms to all others that a big cat is nearby. There is still much debate, between biologists, as to why they alarm in the first place. Are they alarming so as to tell the cat that they have been seen, loosing their element of surprise? Are they doing it so that the cat simply moves off and leaves them alone? Or, are these alarming animals doing so for the betterment of all the creatures that are using the area?
In short does the Jay alarm so that it does not get eaten or does the Jay alarm to warn OTHERS?
Whatever the reason, you will find that it is a worldwide phenomenon that species alarm at predators! Whether you listen to the Vervet Monkey in Africa shouting at the leopard, the Sambhur deer screaming at the tiger, or the Chacma Baboon yelling at the Lion. The same holds true in the Pantanal with the Jaguar. The trick is to identify which species to listen out for.
In the video below you will hear the two most helpful bird species for us here in the southern Pantanal. Watch the video and turn the volume up. Initially, you can very clearly hear the piercing cry of a Roadside Hawk. A little later and you will hear the constant gaggle of the Purplish Jays. Both species of bird are alarming at the gorgeous young male Jaguar below.
But beware, the Jays will also alarm at a troop of passing curious Capuchin Monkeys. They may even alarm at you and I, as we go for an innocent walk in the undergrowth. No one said animal speak was easy…
Written and filmed by Adam Bannister