Conservation Groups in Argentina Attempt “Re-Wilding;” Releasing Jaguars Into Wetlands From Which They Disappeared 70 Years Ago

Yesterday we discussed efforts to protect jaguar numbers by recognizing and protecting cross roads from development. There is another and perhaps even more difficult way: “re-wilding” and releasing previously captive jaguars into selected habitat.

Argentina has become the site of an intensive effort to do just that by reintroducing jaguars into a wetlands habitat from which they were driven about 70 years ago.

Mariua and her two cubs search for food. Photo courtesy of Tompkins Conservation. Note radio collar on Mariua

in 2021 Mariua and her two cubs. Karai and Pora, were reintroduced into the Ibera Natioanl Park, a sprawling maze of marsh, lake, and wetlands. as yet not heavily visited. Argentina hopes to increase eco tourism in the 1.7 million acre park. The park is relatively new. The last jaguars in the area had been killed some 70 years ago so the area is filled with potential prey. Up to 9 jaguars are expected to be released in the program. The release, 10 years in the planning, was coordinated by Rewilding Argentina and Tompkins Conservation.

close up photo of south american tapir
Jaguars often eat tapirs. Tapirs are herbivores with a short nose trunk common in South America. Photo by Picas Joe on

Kristine and the late Doug Tompkins founded the organization which is active in South America. Doug Founded The North Face clothing line in 1964. Mariusa was fitted with a collar. The collars track movement but do not provide as much information as do other kinds of trackers. They do allow researchers to track the animal and find where it has eaten and slept. If the collared animal does not move for too long a period a mortality signal is sent.

grayscale photography of three wise monkey figurines
New world monkeys such as wooly monkeys and howlers are also on the menu. As are snakes and fish.Photo by George Becker on

As an apex predator the return of jaguars to the area is considered very important. Apex predators benefit the environment by controlling prey numbers which in turn influences the behavior of prey animals and even changes the environment.

Argentina considers its jaguars critically endangered because the population estimate for the country is only about 250 split into three areas. The return to the national park is considered a great step forward for the species in Argentina. Recently we discussed efforts to allow jaguars to return to the United States and to travel through Belize.

Published by ursusrising

long time writer and editor living in Los Angeles

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