Back in June, Quadriz and FACEN – the University of Asunción, installed 10 motion-sensitive HD cameras designed to capture and record wild animals in their natural habitat. The cameras were set up in the area of the Corazón Verde del Chaco carbon project, which covers 32,000 hectares.
Biodiversity data collection
The cameras are located on paths, in palm groves, in the forest and near waterholes. Each camera has a unique geo-reference number, which gives its exact co-ordinates that are recorded and used to track the data captured.
After just one month of data collection, the cameras have already recorded a number of vulnerable, near threatened, endemic and endangered species, including the elusive jaguar.
The biodiversity monitoring, analysis and reporting will run for 12 months initially. It is being carried out by renowned biologist Andrea Weiler, Professor and Lead Biologist at University of Asunción and her team of students, supported by Quadriz’ own in-house biologist Yolanda Ramos.
“Several jaguar individuals were registered in the camera traps, and in the near future we will be looking to identify and recognise them to know their area of distribution” says Ramos.
“I was actually surprised by the number of big cats present in the area. Undoubtedly, this is due to the important forest conservation carried out by the REDD+ project. Critical species such as the jaguar (Panthera onca), the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), the tapir (Tapirus terrestris) and the taguá (Catagonus wagneri) are large mammals that walk several kilometres a day, hence need vast forest areas to roam within”.
All data collected by the newly installed cameras will be analysed against a number of criteria. These include diversity, relative abundance, species accumulation curve, distribution in relation to the type of habitat, and national and global conservation status of the species based on the IUCN and MADES endangered species resolutions.
Jaguars: Rapidly declining in Paraguay
Paraguay has an estimated jaguar population of around 1,500 but they are directly threatened by habitat loss, and by the rapidly declining population numbers of their prey.
The area covered by the Corazón Verde del Chaco project contains vital wildlife corridors that allow animals to move freely around their territories, without interaction with external threats from humans.
“The Corazón Verde del Chaco project contributes a lot to the connectivity between wildlife corridors,” says Ramos. “They maintain the continuity of biological processes, mainly the displacement of individuals, which favours the genetic flow of different generations, whilst it also favours the forest itself”.
But encroaching human activity is a serious threat to both the jaguars and their habitats.
Where human activities such as agriculture, deforestation or hunting overlap with jaguar populations there is a significant and continuous drop in the number of jaguars present. This is caused by jaguars being killed by farmers, people defending their cattle, or even poachers. As a result of increasing human presence in the Chaco, only about 50% of the species’ original habitats and corridors are intact.
“This type of alliance contributes to the valorization of forest ecosystems as fundamental units for the environmental sustainability of the region. It allows us to determine the dynamic community of mammals that inhabit the Paraguayan Chaco, as well as to monitor threatened species and to develop conservation strategies” says Prof. Weiler.
The importance of monitoring biodiversity
Jaguar populations are declining. But there is cause for hope. Quadriz’ REDD+ Corazón Verde del Chaco is located in the middle of one of the country’s last jaguar corridors, and provides a safe haven for the species. As the main threat to the existence of jaguars is conflict with humans and livestock, by conserving pristine habitats for the jaguars it is possible that their populations can recover.
Through the REDD+ Corazón Verde del Chaco Project, Quadriz will continue its work to conserve this precious remaining habitat. This new biodiversity monitoring work will provide valuable data to support conservation actions that maintain and restore wildlife populations in the Paraguayan Chaco.