Cameras catch jaguars in Colombia

June 6, 2012 at 3:47 PM

NEW YORK, June 6 (UPI) -- A U.S. wildlife conservation group says its camera traps have captured the first ever images of jaguars on a Colombian oil palm plantation.

New York City-based Panthera said camera traps were installed in Colombia's Magdalena River valley to gather data about the impact of the country's ever-increasing oil palm plantations on jaguars.

Images captured of a female jaguar and her cubs confirm that, at least in some cases, jaguars are willing to move through oil palm plantations as they travel around their habitats, a Panthera release said Wednesday.

Two male jaguars were also photographed, the group said.

"Typically, jaguars can move across human-dominated landscapes by traveling through riparian forests or using road underpasses, but until now, scientists had no photographic proof that jaguars entered oil palm developments in this region," Panthera's Esteban Payan said.

Panthera's Jaguar Corridor Initiative works to connect and protect jaguar populations from Argentina to Mexico within human-dominated landscapes such as oil palm plantations, to preserve the species' genetic diversity.

"Given the extensive amount of jaguar habitat overtaken by oil palm plantations in Colombia, we hope that certain plantations can be part of the Jaguar Corridor, enabling jaguars to reach areas with little or no human disturbances," Payan said.

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