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Human-jaguar conflicts and the relative importance of retaliatory killing and hunting for jaguar (Panthera onca) populations in Venezuela

Jędrzejewski, Włodzimierz, Carreño, Rafael, Sánchez-Mercado, Ada, Schmidt, Krzysztof, Abarca, María, Robinson, Hugh S., Boede, Ernesto O., Hoogesteijn, Rafael, Viloria, Ángel L., Cerda, Hugo, Velásquez, Grisel, Zambrano-Martínez, Sergio
Biological conservation 2017 v.209 pp. 524-532
Panthera onca, accidents, carnivores, cattle, fearfulness, humans, hunters, interviews, meat, models, mortality, motivation, pets, ranchers, regression analysis, skull, Venezuela
Retaliatory killing of large carnivores in response to their attacks on cattle is recognised as one of the most important factors causing worldwide declines of large carnivores. Conversely, hunting is believed to have been largely eliminated due to national and international protection measures. We studied the prevalence of human-jaguar conflict and the relative importance of retaliatory killing and hunting for jaguar populations in Venezuela by means of field interviews with hunters and ranchers. To predict the spatial distribution of retaliatory killing or hunting we fit a linear regression model. We registered 387 jaguar attacks on livestock and 22 attacks on humans. Subsistence/commercial hunting appeared the most common cause of human-caused jaguar mortality (52%) and retaliatory killing was less common (38%). Jaguars were also killed because of public fear, attacks on pets, by trophy hunters, and in car accidents. Public motivations to kill jaguars did not change through time, suggesting that the protection system introduced in 1996 has not been effective. Methods and tools used in retaliatory killing were different, more sophisticated, and probably more efficient than those used in hunting. However, products collected from harvested jaguars did not differ between motivation groups and included skins, canines, skulls, meat, fat, and cubs. Our model indicated that subsistence/commercial hunting is prevalent over most of the areas still inhabited by jaguars. On the contrary, retaliatory killing was mostly predicted for the areas where jaguars have already gone extinct, suggesting that it is an important driving factor of jaguar extirpations.