Brazil’s Pantanal needs careful management

Brazil’s Pantanal needs careful management
Updated 12 September 2014

Brazil’s Pantanal needs careful management

Brazil’s Pantanal needs careful management

The Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetlands, stretches across western Brazil and into Bolivia and Paraguay and is a fragile “ecological fantasy land” in need of careful management.
A dozen rivers flood some 80 percent of the area from the start of the rainy season in November, coursing though a region which is a magnet for intrepid tourists — including those who love to fish.
Visitors are primarily lured by the chance to see exotic animals in their natural habitat, but ecologists urge delicate stewardship of a region awarded UNESCO biosphere reserve status in 2000.
“If we want there to be jaguars in 50 or 100 years then we must preserve the Pantanal,” says Douglas Trent, an American who has spent 30 years nurturing conservation projects in the area.
At 5:30 a.m. the sun is just up as Trent begins his day as chief researcher with the “Bichos do Pantanal” or “Pantanal animals” project, navigating hundreds of kilometers on the Paraguay River.
He documents fauna and tracks the movements of jaguar, king of the American jungle, the apex predator in a Pantanal region covering some 210,000 square kilometers.
Sprawled lazily on the sand, their mouths open, are a group of Pantanal caiman, reptiles related to alligators and crocodiles. Nearby, a green iguana scales a tree, enjoying the region’s luxuriant riverside vegetation.
The area boats 463 species of bird — including the Jabiru stork which can grow to 1.5 meters (five feet) — as well as 263 kinds of fish and more than 2,000 plants.
The emblematic jaguar is threatened with extinction, but sightings have recently been on the increase around the Brazilian municipality of Caceres, in Mato Grosso state near the Bolivian border.
Caceres is known for its freshwater fishing, each June it attracts some 250,000 people to a championship which the Guinness Book of Records recognizes as the world’s biggest.
But fishing is strictly limited to preserve stocks.
“In the late 1990s people were catching tons of fish. Today it’s one per person,” says local environmental affairs secretary Jorge Amedi.
Trent, a 57-year-old environmental scientist arrived in the region in 1980 armed with plans to develop green tourism. One day, as a friendly gesture, a local resident gave him a tooth from a jaguar which he had hunted.
“I realized that if the local population are not aware of their natural riches and don’t benefit economically from them then they won’t look after them,” he explained.
He made his neighbor a proposal: “If I help set you up in eco-tourism would you stop killing jaguars?“
He took his plans to local villages, then joined Brazilian sustainable development specialist Jussara Utsch in documenting fauna. Just a few days ago a jaguar pair were seen near the river engaging in mating rituals.
The Pantanal jaguar, with its intense yellow-eyed gaze, can weigh up to 200 kilos (440 lb) and is fearsome, although attacks on humans are rare. It belongs to the Panthera genus of leopards and lions.
Joao Pires de Souza suffered one such attack six months ago.
“The jaguar had just killed a caiman and must have thought I wanted his prey. He came right at me with a ferocious roar. I plucked up courage and roared back,” he said.
“When he jumped at me I pushed an arm into its mouth. Had I tried to turn tail I’d be dead.”
Pet dog Brasao saved his life, distracting the assailant long enough for other workers to come to the rescue, although De Souza needed two rounds of reconstructive surgery.
“It’s a handsome but evil creature,” says Silvio Francisco Cardoso, 72, who keeps a machete handy just in case at his log residence near the river.
He recalled how a bold jaguar once brazenly pilfered his lunch from his table, saying: “He stares at me from across the river — he considers this his territory.”
Brazil banned jaguar hunting in 1979 and hunting in general is forbidden in the Pantanal.
Trent’s project has logged 51 jaguars around Caceres, a healthy total for a notoriously solitary species requiring wide open spaces and well preserved vegetation and fauna to prosper.
The World Wildlife Fund says protecting the species will go a long way toward doing the same for the Pantanal as a whole.
Brazil says the region retains some 85 percent of its natural vegetation but warns fishing and agriculture, infrastructure projects, deforestation and forest fires all pose a threat.


TWITTER POLL: WhatsApp users undecided whether to continue using app or switching to other options

TWITTER POLL: WhatsApp users undecided whether to continue using app or switching to other options
Updated 15 January 2021

TWITTER POLL: WhatsApp users undecided whether to continue using app or switching to other options

TWITTER POLL: WhatsApp users undecided whether to continue using app or switching to other options
  • The Facebook-owned messaging service has issued a new privacy policy

DUBAI: WhatsApp users are generally undecided whether to continue using the app or consider switching to other available options, an Arab News poll showed.

The Facebook-owned messaging service has issued a new privacy policy, which some reports claimed would share users’ data without giving them a choice, something that 29.7 percent of the poll respondents said they would accept.

Meanwhile, about 38.8 percent of those who answered the poll said they would decline the new privacy policy and switch to other apps while 31.5 percent were undecided on what to do with the WhatsApp app installed in their phones.

Alternative messaging services such as Signal and Telegram meanwhile benefited from the negative press that WhatsApp received, both receiving subscriber boost in just a few days.

Signal in particular added a whopping 4.6 million new users right after receiving an endorsement from technology mogul Elon Musk.

Unlike WhatsApp, which shares user data with Facebook, Signal has a history of fighting any entity that asks for private data and adds features to further anonymize users where possible.

Telegram, which is currently No. 2 behind Signal on the App Store, saw more than 25 million new users sign up in just the last few days.

The mistrust over WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy may also affect its ambitions in India, its biggest market, where 400 million users exchange more messages on the platform.

The backlash forced it to undertake advertising blitz costing tens of millions of rupees in at least 10 English and Hindi newspapers.