Status, conservation, and population genetics of the jaguar (Panthera onca) in Paraguay and the Dry Gran Chaco
Giordano, Anthony J.
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The jaguar (Panthera onca) is the world’s third largest felid and the largest obligate terrestrial carnivore in Latin America. Since the early 1900’s, the jaguar’s range has declined considerably, and it is now believed to occupy less than half of its former distribution. While jaguars have increasingly been the subject of more intensive research and conservation efforts in recent years, most of these activities have arguably occurred across a relatively small proportion of the cat’s range, leaving large geographical regions where the jaguar’s status still remains poorly assessed. Among these latter regions are large portions of the Gran Chaco of southcentral South America. Although the Bolivian and Argentine Chaco have both been the subject of prior jaguar surveys, the Paraguayan Chaco, comprising approximately one-third of the extant Gran Chaco and occurring between these two regions, has been devoid of such efforts. This lack of data detracts from important ecoregional and transboundary conservation planning efforts, as the Paraguayan Chaco figures prominently as part of the Gran Chaco Jaguar Conservation Unit (JCU), which is part of a rangewide network of stronghold habitats important to long-term jaguar population persistence. To illustrate the conservation status of jaguars across the entire Gran Chaco region, better inform regional and transboundary jaguar conservation planning efforts and the development of an effective jaguar conservation strategy for the Gran Chaco, and provide greater context of the relationship between jaguars in the Gran Chaco JCU and those in the adjacent Pantanal JCU, scientific investigations of the jaguar populations in northern Paraguay are urgently needed. In the following four chapters, I present an original investigation into the status, ecology, and population genetics of jaguars in Paraguay, with a strong emphasis on the northern dry Chaco of Paraguay.