A female Jaguar killed a young cow. She dragged the carcass in the middle of the day to get it out of sight. She did not get it far enough away and within hours hundreds of Black Vultures had gathered. A message had been sent through the airwaves that a kill had been made and fresh meat was up for grabs.
The female is referred to by the Jaguar habituation team as Teorema. She was collared in April this year, allowing us to use GPS data to get an idea about her home range. We know so little about these majestic cats and a collar enables us to monitor many elements of an otherwise secretive existence.
The radio telemetry beeped suggesting that Teorema was in the area. Darkness set in. We sat in the car about 50 yards away and waited… a patience game!
Fifteen minutes later and there was movement at the kill. I shone the spotlight and was overjoyed to see a Jaguar tearing into the carcass. With one hand on the spotlight I focused the binoculars on the beautiful cat.
I must being seeing wrong I thought.
I looked again and sure enough there was a Jaguar, without a collar feeding on the kill. I reached for the telemetry and pointed the antennae at the carcass. It beeped on Teoremas frequency. I could hardly breathe. I gazed at the rosettes and managed to eventually read them like a thumbprint. It was a young female Jaguar known as Garoa, daughter of Chuva.
By now my heart was pounding. Two unrelated Jaguars were within meters of each other. Did Teorema know that her kill was being feasted on? The answer came that very instant. It was so fast that I had no time to reach for the camera. Teorema exploded out of the nearby bushes and stormed towards Garoa. Indescribable speed!
I heard more than I saw. Loud, guttural aggressive snarling and hissing. Garoa had no chance. Much smaller and younger than her opponent her only option was to concede defeat. She did this quickly and spun around onto her back. Paws up in the air, belly exposed she played the submissive card. Teorema steamed from the mouth. Canines at the ready. But cats, by in large, don’t like physical confrontation. A few moments of growling were all that was needed. Teorema had won back her kill.
She calmly turned around and walked back to the carcass where she fed…
It does not end there. A nearby group of Peccary had been interested in the commotion and had sauntered close to the action. Garoa casually got up, brushed herself off and started stalking. She hunted and killed a large female Peccary within 100meters of where Teorema fed on her own prize. The sounds of that kill were insane. Squeals, grunts and cries pierced the still night. Teorema did not even stop to listen. She simply kept eating.
Camera trap footage would tell us that about 2 hours later Teorema would leave the carcass and a mere 10 minutes later Garoa was seen feeding on the same cow! For some reason she had abandoned her own Peccary meat to return to Teorema’s beef. Hard to explain…
What a treat to have witnessed this incredible aggression between two wild female Jaguars. Aggression: yet with a strange sense of acceptance towards each other.
We continue to uncover more about the unknown lives of Jaguars.
Written, photographed and filmed by Adam Bannister