Mar 22, 2016 News
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it was involved in the capturing of two jaguars that were likely responsible for attacks of domestic animals on the Essequibo Coast, Region Two.
According to the agency, it received reports of jaguar attacks on livestock and promptly responded, by conducting investigative visits to three affected communities of Lima Sands, Tapakuma and Whyaka Mainstay.
During the visits, detailed discussions were held with the affected communities which pointed to the need for the jaguar situation to be treated with urgency.
Several farmers and residents have complained of losing animals and seeing tracks that appeared to be that of a big cat.
The EPA said it started to conduct awareness sessions with the communities encouraging them to keep livestock and cattle in enclosures to deter the jaguar (s) and preventing animals from becoming easy prey.
As a last recourse, traps were built, by both community members and the EPA team, and set at strategic locations in the communities where the jaguars were known to frequent.
The EPA said that it received news on Friday, February 19, and Thursday, March 11, 2016, that a female and a male jaguar were caught in the traps set.
“On receipt of this news from residents, of the Mainstay Community, the EPA quickly coordinated with the Wildlife Management Authority, Protected Areas Commission, Transport and Harbours Dept, Anna Regina Police Station and Guyana Livestock Development Authority for the safe transport and relocation of the jaguars.”
Officers of the EPA and the Wildlife Management Authority, accompanied by a veterinarian, then promptly travelled to the Mainstay community on both occasions to secure the jaguars and ensure their safe transport to Georgetown.
The jaguars were relocated to the Guyana Zoological Park where they were allowed to acclimatize for four days before visitors were allowed to view them.
The EPA said that while in both cases, trapping and relocating was the last recourse, there are many preventative measures that can be taken to deter a jaguar from attacking livestock and from entering communities.
The agency yesterday explained that the jaguar is the largest cat of the Americas weighing up to 100kg (220 pounds). They prey on forest dwellers such as peccaries (bush hogs), deer, tapir (bush cow), turtles, armadillos to maintain their body mass.
“Being a predator at the top of the food chain, jaguars play an important role in maintaining a healthy environment, for example, simply by controlling the population of animals lower down the food chain.”
EPA said it believes that jaguars have been straying to the coastal areas for one simple reason – food.
“Jaguars are shy by nature. Fortunately, there are still a few thousand jaguars left in Guyana, but even people that walk the forests frequently do not see them because these predators tend to be elusive, hiding from sight and avoiding interaction.”
While the quest for food may be a reason for jaguars “trespassing” into human space, old age or injuries have been also known to cause these cats to encroach into villages.
“Also, when the animal can no longer hunt agile, alert wild prey, they will try to survive on the more sluggish and less vigilant domestic animals. Additionally, a healthy but young individual in search of its own territory could also accidentally stumble upon the richness of easy foods near homes and decide that this area serves perfectly well as a territory.”
EPA also believed that the long dry spell currently being experienced may be the reason why two jaguars were captured on the Essequibo Coast area, in the vicinity of the villages.
“With the forest being very dry at present, regular prey may have moved closer to water sources. As such, the jaguar in moving in search of other sources of food or even in following the prey, stumbled upon “easy” food in the communities.”
EPA advised that to keep jaguars away from human dwelling space, it would require keeping domesticated animals in well-constructed pens or corrals at night.
Motion-triggered light or loud sounds near the livestock have also proven to work. The surprise effect is what will make the cat change its mind and seek food elsewhere.
Jaguars are legally protected in Guyana under the Wildlife Management and Conservation Regulations.
Over the weekend, two Mainstay/Whyaka cousins who were responsible for the capture of two jaguars are contending that they would not broadcast the capture of any other ones.
The two are insisting that once reports of the jaguars are reported in the media, it would gain the attention of the EPA and they would come and retrieve the jaguars without rendering any monetary incentive.
Chris Allen, from Mainstay/Whyaka was responsible for capturing the first jaguar, at an area called “Jump, Jump”.
Allen reportedly constructed a wooden trap into which the jaguar was lured. However, Allen and his cousin, Troy Fredricks, caught the second jaguar a fortnight ago. The jaguars had travelled from the Savannahs in search of food.
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