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Jaguar roams 2.8% of the Atlantic Forest

Eduardo Cesar Study proposes seven priority conservation areas for Panthera onca within the Atlantic Forest in Brazil, Argentina, and ParaguayEduardo Cesar

A team of researchers from Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has estimated that the remaining population of jaguars (Panthera onca), the biggest cat in the Americas, lives in an area of nearly 38,000 hectares inside the Atlantic Forest shared by these three countries. This represents 2.8% of the biome and about 15% of the South Atlantic habitat that would be suitable for the jaguar (Scientific Reports, December 16, 2016). The study collected data from 14 research groups working across the region. Teams from universities and institutes in the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, Paraná, and Rio Grande do Sul joined forces with colleagues from the two neighboring countries. It is estimated that fewer than 300 jaguars live in the Atlantic Forest, and most of them are concentrated in seven areas where their conservation is considered top priority. Larger than 5,000 square kilometers (km2) each, only three of these areas – Serra do Mar, Upper Paranapanema, and the Green Corridor, along the border with the Argentine province of Missiones – are home to more than 50 male and female specimens. The authors of the study believe the chances are good that these remaining fragments of the Atlantic Forest can sustain a population of Panthera onca for a long period. The other four areas, which range in size from 500 km2 to 3,900 km2, contain fewer than 50 jaguars. In addition to the seven stretches of biome where a significant number of jaguars roam, the researchers identified five other areas in western Paraguay and the Brazilian coast that may harbor specimens of the cat.