Juan Luis Peña-Mondragón
Research: Characterization of livestock management for conservation of the jaguar in southeastern Mexico
Abstract: Predation of livestock by wild cats is a relevant conflict the human population has with carnivores. Although loss and fragmentation of habitat and hunting, contribute to this conflict, when ranchers have losses or they know a wild animal is near their lands, they perceive a threat and consequently retaliate on the carnivores. In this project we are mainly interested in the conflict jaguars have in the southern part of Mexico. Livestock in Mexico is largely a subsistence activity which makes the problem challenging since rural peoples are mainly poor and unless interventions do take into account their livelihood needs, the conservation of jaguars and other species will continue facing failures and disappointments. We have previously documented the economic damages caused by jaguars to rural peasant families in northeastern Mexico and found these were relatively low. However, results showed also that livestock predation was caused not only by jaguars but also by other predators (such as cougar, black bear, coyote and bobcat). Other factors such as weather conditions (floods and/or droughts), livestock theft, lack of animals' health management programs and reproductive and genetic assistance are also factors that affect the economy of rural families. Based on all these, we are interested in working the problem of conservation of jaguars from a social-ecological perspective. A first issue to analyze is rural people livestock practices and evaluating damages from an economic perspective. Getting to know also their perceptions regarding the species and its role in the ecosystem is another topic that will give us a deeper insight into the problem. We believe that working with the social actors affected directly by depredation will allow the construction of alternative management strategies that mitigate people's economic losses and that will diminish and eventually stop the elimination of these important species.