June 8, 2009--
A male jaguar
focuses on a camera trap as the device snaps his photo on April 27, 2008, in Peru
's Amazon rain forest
The camera was one of 23 set up over 8.5 square miles (22 square kilometers) in a remote and unstudied region of the country's northeast as part of the Peruvian Amazon Biodiversity Project
, run by the National Zoo's Center for Conservation Education and Sustainability in Washington, D.C.
The project is investigating how wildlife--particularly a small feline called an ocelot--is being impacted by oil exploration by the Madrid-based petroleum company Repsol Exploración Peru. (See a map of the region.
So far, preliminary results suggest that ocelots and other big cats, including jaguars, have not been disrupted by exploration operations, said National Zoo research scientist Joe Kolowski. (The oil company is funding the project, but Kolowski said the firm has no influence on the research.)
The project is also recording the area's rare and elusive forest creatures. Between April and September 2008, Kolowski and colleagues captured at least 28 different species of mammals and 18 species of birds on film. (See more camera-trap photos taken recently in Ecuador
Checking the camera every ten days was like "Christmas morning," Kolowski said. "There was a lot of anticipation and anxiety about what we would find
This particular jaguar--identifiable by his spot pattern--was photographed nine times at four separate camera stations, a pattern of movement that is not unusual for the wide-ranging predators, he said.
Photograph courtesy Peruvian Amazon Biodiversity Project