GPS Tracking Collar Can Save Wild Cats, Biologists Say

22 Nov 2017

Experts have concluded that although GPS collars could be detrimental to the daily activities of wild cats, they can save them from humans killing them. It’s thought that when big cats prey on domestic animals, locals retaliate. Therefore, if a wild cat is wearing a GPS tracking collar, people are less likely to harm them for fear of repercussions.

GPS tracking technology is an effective investigative tool in terms of prosecuting any individual suspected of killing a big cat. Ron Thompson runs Primero Conservation.org. The organization places its focus on the killing of pumas and jaguars in Mexico. He co-authored a study, The Decline of a Jaguar (Panthera onca) Subpopulation in Sonora Mexico.

The study recommended that GPS tracker collars be placed on all jaguars in the Sonora area. Additionally, the reasoning for this should be common knowledge throughout the surrounding communities.

Furthermore, educating locals about the big cats is paramount to their protection. Private security guards should also monitor the animals to ensure their safety from human attack.

According to information from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the jaguar (Panthera onca)  is near-threatened in America. It’s thought that India can learn a great deal from this study as there, mortality of big cats and wild animals in general is common. As many as 67 tigers have died in India this year alone. Many of these deaths have been as a result of conflict with humans and poachers.

Researchers who have been monitoring jaguars for almost ten years pinpointed 26 in northwest Sonora. The number fell into decline after March 2012. In June 2015, researchers saw only one jaguar. Throughout the time between November 2016 and May 2017, researchers saw no jaguars in the area.

The study recorded the illegal destruction of six jaguars. The team discovered that one of these animals was killed through the GPS collar data and via examination of its burnt remains. The researchers were also told by ranchers that even more of the animals met their deaths outside the study area. Both jaguars with GPS collars were killed on the study site, one by gunshot and the other was likely poisoned.

It’s hoped that through the use of GPS tracking collars and education, more wild cats can remain safe.

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