Gabriella Lira – from Cenarium
MANAUS – The video of a black jaguar killed and exhibited by an illegal hunter began circulating in social networks on Wednesday, 20, and caused outrage. The case happened in the Arariboia Indigenous Land (TI), in the municipality of Arame, Maranhão. After the repercussion, the suspect was also arrested on Wednesday. To CENARIUM, the master in Forestry and Environmental Sciences, Rogério Fonseca, explained that the species is considered vulnerable.
“In the Amazon region there are two species of jaguars: the pintada and the parda. The jaguar is almost threatened or vulnerable, the parda is of little concern. However, both, because they are animals at the top of the food chain and are indicators of environmental quality, deserve special monitoring and protection by society”, says Fonseca, who is also coordinator of the Friends of the Jaguar Project.
The researcher also explains more details about the color of the black jaguar, which stands out for this shade of skin. “The jaguar has variations in skin tone, especially due to an excess of melanin. This animal is usually called ‘black panther’ by laymen, but it is nothing more than a melanin jaguar. The brown jaguar is smaller and its skin tone is beige”, explains Fonseca.
The video was posted on Twitter by human rights lawyer Diogo Cabral and caused outrage among Internet users. To CENARIUM, Cabral, who works in defense of traditional people and communities in Maranhão, said that illegal hunting is a common practice in the indigenous area Arariboia.
“It is a common practice that has generated severe threats and deaths of those who defend the forests, such as the guardians of the Guajajara and Kaapor indigenous people. This case reveals a criminal practice that occurs throughout the Brazilian Amazon and that supplies clandestine markets both in Brazil and abroad. It is fundamental that the Brazilian State confronts this situation. However, the current government has encouraged this type of practice”, Cabral points out.
The Maranhão Civil Police informed that the suspect, whose identity was not revealed, was found with the hide of the slaughtered jaguar, two guns, 20mm caliber bullets, gunpowder and material used in the practice of hunting wild animals.
The arrest was made by the Arame Civil Police Station, linked to the 23rd Regional Police Station of Buriticupu. The hunter will remain at the Justice’s disposal.
Jaguar species, considered to be at the top of the food chain and indicators of environmental quality, are monitored by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), through the National Center for Research and Conservation of Carnivorous Mammals. In 1967, the practice of hunting wild animals was prohibited by law, with the establishment of the Wildlife Protection Law.
Researchers from all over Brazil and public managers of fauna carry out assessments that make up a National Action Plan (PAN) for the conservation of big cats (Pintada and Parda). Fonseca is also part of the PAN’s technical advisory group.
“More specifically for the North region, our OIAA Jaguars Project [Observatory of Press, Sightings and Attacks of Jaguars] covers the entire national territory and we have collaborators in other states cooperating on the best way to collect, store, analyze and interpret data and information about jaguars to generate public policies and/or management actions for fauna management, precisely so that we don’t lose any more jaguars”, explains Fonseca.
Jaguars with dark fur, also known as black jaguars or black panther, have this striking characteristic thanks to a genetic mutation that makes them melanic felines. Melanism is a mutation that increases the production of the protein present in the body responsible for black pigmentation. That is, the coat or plumage of these animals, in relation to the typical color pattern of the species, is predominantly darker and occurs not only in cats, but in several other species of animals such as snakes, lizards, rodents, butterflies and amphibians.