Things really are starting to pick up momentum in the Projeto Onçafari team. It’s exciting to watch and be a part of. The team is growing all the time, with new people adding fascinating and much needed skills to the ambitious project. As you will have noticed, we are using this blog as a platform to communicate some of our accomplishments, findings and experiences. Each day we learn something new and it is wonderful to be able to share what we learn. That is after all one of the core reasons this project exists in the first place.
We are a team of dedicated conservationists who are spending countless hours in the southern Pantanal, attempting to habituate a wild population of jaguars; attempting to break all negative stigmas attached to this cat and hoping to prove that jaguars are worth much more alive, than dead.
Let me introduce the team
The man with the dream and the vision! Mario is the brainchild of Projeto Onçafari and provides much of the enthusiasm needed for a task of this stature. After numerous visits to eco-tourism destinations in Africa, Mario decided that it was about time something along the similar lines gets done in his homeland of Brazil. He is also the important bridge between the jaguar project and CENAP – the Brazillian government arm that deals with carnivore research and conservation.
Diogo has his hands in many pies, helping out in all areas. He is particularly clued up on using technology as best possible for the project. His understanding of Google Earth is noteworthy and when combined with one of his many GPS devices he is able to make a map in minutes. For an exploratory project like this one, this is crucial. He has wonderful team attributes and really helps to make the team gel. Diogo has been earmarked as one of the future jaguar trackers. He is spending countless hours walking in the Pantanal with the South African trackers, learning as much as he can in the upcoming months.
The rose amongst the thorns. Lili is currently the only girl in the team and plays an integral part. She is in charge of all the data that is collected: recording, storage, analysis and the presentation thereof. This is no small feat as close on every day we are collecting priceless information. She, together with Leo, is in charge of the numerous camera traps that we utilize. She goes through countless video clips on a daily basis; sorting everything out and making sure that it is accessible if needed. Her mothering role, for all the young men on the team, cannot be underrated.
Leo is a wonderfully hands on man. There is no project too big for him to handle. He is in charge of maintaining the vehicles, a job that in the biggest swamp in the world takes a lot of work. He is in charge of camera trap placement (a real skill) and the recording of carcasses and mortality at the ranch. Leo inspects each carcass found and is able to tell you fascinating facts like cause of death, time of death, predation and percentage eaten. Most of the wonderful video clips shown on this blog are thanks to the great placement of the camera traps by Leo.
The Pantanal is one of the wildest areas in the world! It is also one of the easiest places to get lost in. Nego knows the land, at Caiman Ecological Refuge, better than anyone else. This is crucial to the team in helping us to explore new areas. He is also very handy with a spanner, rope, jack, wire, electrical cable and anything else practical. His self-taught knowledge of birdlife and photography is staggering and leaves one in admiration for the quiet man. Nego is a crucial asset to the team and will be spending the next few months working on his tracking skills helping us to find out more about the movements of the jaguars in the research area. Nego and Diogo are the future of tracking at Caiman Ecological Refuge.
I have been involved in the project for close on five months now. My experience with lion, leopard, cheetah and tiger mean that I bring to the field an understanding of the big cats and how to view them. My passion is for the media and documentation of wildlife, this way allowing office bound folk to stay connected to the wild landscapes that still remain on earth.
Richard is one of the trackers who was recently joined the team as part of the trans-continental knowledge and experience exchange. He is one of South Africa’s top trackers and brings with him a wealth of knowledge on how to track cats in difficult areas.
Together with Richard, Andrea joins the team from the Tracker Academy in South Africa. He is exceptionally talented when it comes to not only tracking an animal, but explaining and teaching the tracking techniques and skills. Richard and Andrea will take Diogo and Nego under their wings and train them how to track and find jaguars!
Simon has worked with Mario since the inception of the Jaguar habituation project and continues to help in this exciting project in various aspects of the habituation work as well as by bringing new ideas to the project that he has learned from his exposure to wildlife around the world
Joares is the Vet responsible for all the collaring processes that take place in the Project. He is frequently hired to perform the capturing campaigns for the Project on behalf of CENAP (Government agency responsible for land carnivores in Brazil). He has been with the Project since the first capture that took place in September 2011.
Rogério Cunha de Paula is a Brazilian biologist with Masters on Biological Sciences. He works as a government agent for the National Research Center for Carnivores Conservation (Cenap), at Instituto Chico Mendes of Biodiversity Conservation within the Environmental Ministry (ICMBio/MMA) since 2002. He is the general technical coordinator within the Oncafari Project, planning and participating on several activities such as: jaguars capturing and monitoring, the technical-scientific information concerning the habituation process and the general project’s strategies as a conservation tool.
Written by Adam Bannister