Brazil’s Big Cats Face Local Extinction As Invasive Windfarms Drive Them Off Their Land

Wind energy is sometimes touted as a futuristic “green” energy source. But is it? You can ask the birds that die in the millions from flying into the invisible fan blades. Or you can ask Brazil’s big cats. According to the Wall Street Journal the “green” energy source is driving them away from scarce water.

white wind turbines on gray sand near body of water
Wind turbines in Brazil may scare jaguars and pumas off their home range and force them into a dangerous search for water. Photo by Kervin Edward Lara on

South and Central America are home to 10 species of wild cats. The two biggest are pumas (Puma concolor) and Jaguars (Panthera onca). Brazil’s big cats are the most threatened by the quick increase in wind farms producing “green” energy. The exact impact on wildlife by windfarms is not known. For example, no one knows exactly how many birds are killed each year by windfarms. Proponents of the energy source such as MIT acknowledge that millions of birds and bats are killed each year by windfarms. But they make the not very good argument that the slaughter is less than that caused by other bird killers.

Jaguar (Panthera Onca) illustrated by Charles Dessalines D' Orbigny (1806-1876). Digitally enhanced from our own 1892 edition of Dictionnaire Universel D'histoire Naturelle.
Jaguars are the biggest wild cats in the Americas. They are facing many challenges to their survival in an increasingly fragmented range.

Watts Up With That quoted the journal:

“Jaguars “and pumas are facing extinction in the Caatinga, Brazil’s northeastern shrublands, as Europe and China pour investment into wind farms, puncturing the land with vast turbines that are scaring the animals away from the region’s scant water sources.

Particularly sensitive to changes to their habitat, the jaguars and pumas abandon their lairs as soon as construction work on the wind farms begins, said Claudia Bueno de Campos, a biologist who helped found the group Friends of the Jaguars and has tracked the region’s vanishing feline population. They then roam vast distances across the dusty plains in search of new streams and rivers.”

photo of a cougar near a log
Pumas are the second biggest cat in the Americas. They too are having trouble with wind farms in Brazil, experts say. Photo by Nicky Pe on

WattsUpWithThat is a website skeptical of extreme climate change warnings.

The future of Brazil’s big cats in the Caatinga may be bleak. Perhaps 250 jaguars now live in the watershed and 2,500 pumas.

Jaguars and pumas are not close to extinction as species. Pumas have the greatest north south range of any cat. They can be found from Canada south to the tip of South America. Jaguars have a large range, too including much of Central and South America. Both cats, however, are facing challenging futures as fragmentation of populations threatens them with local extinction and inbreeding. Conservation and rescue groups are seeking to protect the future of both cats by efforts to link habitat and re-introduce cats into areas from which they have been driven.

Published by ursusrising

long time writer and editor living in Los Angeles

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