First jaguar photo taken at Smithsonian Research Station in Panama
May 4th, 2009
Barro Colorado Island in Panama, home of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s premier tropical biology field station, has been described as the best-studied piece of tropical real estate in the western hemisphere. Although the island has been a mecca for biologists for nearly 90 years, no one has ever photographed an elusive island visitor, the jaguar—until now.
Montclair State University zoologist Jackie Willis and her husband Greg mount cameras with infrared sensors on trees to photograph passing animals as part of their annual mammal census of the island, which they have been conducting since 1982. What the cameras captured April 20 was not only a surprise, but a first—an adult jaguar tripped the camera’s sensor at 3:07 a.m., thus creating a self-portrait photograph.
“Our photo of a jaguar on Barro Colorado is a sign of hope,” said Jackie Willis. “It proves jaguars are still in this area.” Greg Willis spotted a jaguar on the island in 1983, but there have been very few sightings on Barro Colorado since.
Living With Jaguars: Getting Up Close With Animals at Bolivia’s Ambue Ari Reserve: here.