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The numbers of the beast: Valuation of jaguar (Panthera onca) tourism and cattle depredation in the Brazilian Pantanal
- Tortato, Fernando R., Izzo, Thiago J., Hoogesteijn, Rafael, Peres, Carlos A.
- Global ecology and conservation 2017 v.11 pp. 106-114
- Panthera onca, animal husbandry, carnivores, cattle, ecotourism, humans, income, land use, livelihood, predators, ranchers, ranching, tourists, wetlands, wildlife, Pantanal
- Large carnivores fascinate people because of their beauty and potential as human predators and have therefore become focal species for the ecotourism industry. Wildlife tourism has grown exponentially and has often been used as a financial argument for species conservation. However, carnivores depredate livestock, leading to a direct economic conflict with rural livelihoods, often resulting in lethal retaliation action. Here we show that jaguar ecotourism represents a gross annual income of US$6,827,392 in land-use revenue across a representative portion the Brazilian Pantanal, the world's largest wetland. Considering the aggregate costs of jaguar depredation on livestock within the same area, we estimate that the resident jaguar population would induce a hypothetical damage of only US$121,500 per year in bovine cattle losses. This large discrepancy between economic gains and losses reinforces the importance of wildlife tourism as a conservation tool in boosting tolerance of jaguars in private ranches. We also evaluate the partnership between ecotourism and cattle ranchers, in which cattle losses induced by jaguars could be compensated by a system of voluntary donations from tourists, ensuring that both traditional livestock husbandry and ecotourism can co-exist within the same ranches, thereby promoting landscape-scale jaguar conservation.