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Infanticide in a jaguar (Panthera onca) population—does the provision of livestock carcasses increase the risk?

Abstract

Infanticide is an antagonistic behavior that may provide an evolutionary benefit for the perpetrator. Cases of infanticide have rarely been reported in Neotropical carnivores. The objective of this study was to provide empirical evidence of infanticide in a local jaguar (Panthera onca) population in the Brazilian Pantanal. We present infanticide data from opportunistic sampling. Each month, from 2013 to 2015, we monitored pastures for evidence of livestock carcasses. A remotely triggered camera trap was placed at encountered fresh cattle carcasses. Through this monitoring, two cases of infanticide were recorded. Both cases occurred in close proximity to a cattle carcass, a large prey item that may attract multiple jaguars—including females with cubs around age of weaning—and increase the risk of infanticide. Our observations provide new empirical evidence of jaguar social behavior and intraspecific competitive interactions, potentially driven by locally high population density and resource provision.

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank fellow colleagues at ICMBio-CENAP (Atibaia, SP, Brazil) and Instituto Pro-Carnívoros for their support and collaboration throughout the years of research. We extend our gratitude for the assistance from the Pantaneiros of São Bento ranch. Funding for this project was provided in part by Panthera’s Kaplan Graduate Award (A.L. Devlin). Scholarships were granted to F.R. Tortato by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Mato Grosso - FAPEMAT. The majority of field support was funded by Panthera’s Jaguar Research Program.

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Correspondence to Fernando R. Tortato.

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Tortato, F.R., Devlin, A.L., Hoogesteijn, R. et al. Infanticide in a jaguar (Panthera onca) population—does the provision of livestock carcasses increase the risk?. acta ethol 20, 69–73 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10211-016-0241-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10211-016-0241-4

Keywords

  • Camera trap
  • Infanticide
  • Livestock
  • Pantanal
  • Panthera onca