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Jaguars involved in Change Management Exercise!

Cattle ranchers in Brazil sacrificing some of their calves to develop a new industry

Brazil would not be the first place that you might consider for a safari but in July this year, I had the fantastic experience of spending time with a jaguar research team in the southern Pantanal region.   Their project was called “Onçafari” and the team was researching how to preserve the natural habitat of the jaguars but habituate them to vehicles, so that jaguars could become “star animals” for stimulating the growth of ecotourism in Brazil.  

Paradoxically, the project was sponsored by a cattle rancher, Roberto Klabin, whose vision was to demonstrate that it was possible for cattle ranching and ecotourism to co-exist.   Through his passion, energy and personal involvement, Roberto had convinced his fellow cattle ranchers to support the project, even though that meant acknowledging that a small number of their calves would be killed by the jaguars.  A triumph of change management!  

It was a huge adventure – I sloshed through water-logged forest paths to retrieve camera traps that were recording the behaviours of the jaguars, went out with the team in their specially equipped Onçafari jeeps to try to find the jaguars at night and watched and waited to see if they would return to finish feasting on a kill that they had made early in the morning.  


While the jaguar is the star attraction, there are lots of other animals, including the capybara (the largest known rodent), the rare tapir,  the beautiful ocelot and the very exotic looking giant anteater. 


In addition, the Pantanal teems with magnificent parrots, macaws and many other birds. 


One of the iconic birds of the Pantanal is the hyacinth macaw.  

My own personal favourite was the burrowing owl, whose wise gaze greeted me when I returned to the lodge at the end of each exciting and eye-opening expedition.




Rosemary O'Mahony