A jaguar called Jatobazinho was released in an Argentine national park this Friday (31) as part of a program to increase the number of specimens of this endangered species. It was the eighth jaguar released this year in the Iberá National Park, but the first adult male, according to the environmental group Rewilding Argentina, behind the project.
Jatobazinho weighs about 90 kg and has beige fur with black spots.
He first appeared thin and debilitated in a rural school named Jatobá, in Brazil, in 2018, after swimming across the Paraguay River.
The feline spent more than a year in an animal shelter in Brazil before being sent to a jaguar reintroduction center that has been operating since 2012 in the province of Corrientes, in northeastern Argentina, where the species had been extinct for 70 years.
Sebastian Di Martino, a biologist at Rewilding Argentina, said that the jaguar needs to be well and relaxed when leaving the shelter to be reintroduced into nature.
“If the animal is stressed, it can become disoriented and go anywhere,” he said.
He said these jaguars were fed live prey in captivity because they need to learn to hunt.
In Ibera Park, there is a lot of wildlife, such as deer, for them to feed. Jaguars are tracked with a GPS device. There are plans to now release a female born at the reintroduction center.
The park is also awaiting the arrival of three wild jaguars from Paraguay, and two others bred in captivity in Uruguay and Brazil.
Jaguars are native to the Americas. It is estimated that there were more than 100,000 ounces when Europeans arrived on the continent in the 15th century, and their habitat ranges from semi-desert areas in North America to the rainforests of South America.
Conservation groups say South America’s jaguar population has dropped 25% over the past 20 years as deforestation has destroyed their habitat.