Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Jag Cams - Portrait of a Jaguar

Lyra approaches the camera

Sea turtle season is starting... the first nests of 2012 have been found on the beach, along with an increase in fresh jaguar tracks. So we set out on the jag cams survey, hopeful that we will recover at least one good picture of a jaguar from the motion-sensor cameras.

We head up the muddy north trail to the camera site – jag tracks have been spotted there a few days previously, a promising sign. We replace the memory card, set up a second camera and reapply the Calvin Klein Obsession (already proven to be a jaguar favourite) to the scent stick.

Lyra sits next to the scent station

Back on base, it is the moment of truth... time to check what photos have been taken. As usual, there are a few pictures of the people setting up the camera, and various shots of the teams completing BAS surveys along the north trail. But then just after 10am on the morning of 16 February, a bright and sunny day, a jaguar approaches the scent stick! We discover some amazing pictures of this beautiful creature, who sniffs and rubs the scent stick before continuing on his or her way.

It’s now ID time – who is this jaguar? One we’ve captured on film before, or a new arrival? Due to the size it’s likely to be either a small male or a female, but we check our pictures against all photos already held in our database. First the male jags - we immediately rule out most of these guys as the markings are obviously different. Pepito is a close match, but there are a few subtle pattern differences on his left side. On to the female jags – it’s not Molly or Bia, but Lyra looks more promising. We match off a few markings on her body with those in our new photos, then a few more, and soon realise that we have a perfect match! The jag in our photos is Lyra - and proof that Calvin Klein really does attract the ladies...

-Nicky, volunteer