Photos: Brazilian jaguars adapt to life on trees evading Amazon floods

Researcher studying the Brazilian jaguars, the largest of South America’s cats have caught the felines adapting to survive the flooding of the Amazon during the rainy season. Although they can be six feet long and weigh 200 pounds, jaguars have been caught nimbly navigating treetops where they can stay from April to July, comfortably raising their young while the rainforest floor below them remains several meters underwater. Understanding jaguar behavior is also helping researchers build evidence for the need to conserve the Amazon floodplain.

UPDATED ON APR 06, 2018 09:33 AM IST 9 Photos
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Brazilian jaguars, imperiled by hunters, ranchers and destruction of their habitat, have learned to survive at least one menace -- flooding in the Amazon, by taking to the trees. Although they can be six feet long and weigh 200 pounds, South America’s largest cats nimbly navigate treetops where they stay from April to July when the rainforest floor is under meters-deep water. (Bruno Kelly / REUTERS)

Brazilian jaguars, imperiled by hunters, ranchers and destruction of their habitat, have learned to survive at least one menace -- flooding in the Amazon, by taking to the trees. Although they can be six feet long and weigh 200 pounds, South America’s largest cats nimbly navigate treetops where they stay from April to July when the rainforest floor is under meters-deep water. (Bruno Kelly / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON APR 06, 2018 09:33 AM IST
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“It shows that even as a large animal, the jaguar can withstand the flooding -- feeding, breeding and raising its young in the treetops for three to four months,” says Emiliano Ramalho, the lead researcher for Project Iauaretê, which is administered by the Instituto Mamirauá. “This had never been documented before we began researching the jaguars here.” (Bruno Kelly / REUTERS)

“It shows that even as a large animal, the jaguar can withstand the flooding -- feeding, breeding and raising its young in the treetops for three to four months,” says Emiliano Ramalho, the lead researcher for Project Iauaretê, which is administered by the Instituto Mamirauá. “This had never been documented before we began researching the jaguars here.” (Bruno Kelly / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON APR 06, 2018 09:33 AM IST
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Researchers install camera traps at the Mamiraua Sustainable Development Reserve. The project monitors jaguars in Mamirauá, studies their relationship with local residents and undertakes conservation for the species. Documenting jaguars during the rainy season is rare, with their long-term stays in the treetops first recorded by the researchers in 2013 after nine years of monitoring. (Bruno Kelly / REUTERS)

Researchers install camera traps at the Mamiraua Sustainable Development Reserve. The project monitors jaguars in Mamirauá, studies their relationship with local residents and undertakes conservation for the species. Documenting jaguars during the rainy season is rare, with their long-term stays in the treetops first recorded by the researchers in 2013 after nine years of monitoring. (Bruno Kelly / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON APR 06, 2018 09:33 AM IST
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Researchers discovered jaguars perched high on branches during expeditions between 2016 to 2018. Called “painted jaguars” in Brazil because of their intricately spotted fur, jaguars are difficult to see in the dense jungle canopy. (Bruno Kelly / REUTERS)

Researchers discovered jaguars perched high on branches during expeditions between 2016 to 2018. Called “painted jaguars” in Brazil because of their intricately spotted fur, jaguars are difficult to see in the dense jungle canopy. (Bruno Kelly / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON APR 06, 2018 09:33 AM IST
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On one expedition last month, researchers tracked down and tranquilized a black male jaguar at night, placed his limp body on a blue tarp and wrapped his head in a towel as they fitted him with a tracking collar, measured his teeth and checked vitals. (Bruno Kelly / REUTERS)

On one expedition last month, researchers tracked down and tranquilized a black male jaguar at night, placed his limp body on a blue tarp and wrapped his head in a towel as they fitted him with a tracking collar, measured his teeth and checked vitals. (Bruno Kelly / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON APR 06, 2018 09:33 AM IST
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So many jaguars have been fitted with trackers that researchers can now pinpoint them by holding up pronged radio receivers as they pilot small boats through the flooded forest. Ramalho says that understanding this behaviour is further evidence supporting the need to preserve the Amazon floodplain. (Bruno Kelly / REUTERS)

So many jaguars have been fitted with trackers that researchers can now pinpoint them by holding up pronged radio receivers as they pilot small boats through the flooded forest. Ramalho says that understanding this behaviour is further evidence supporting the need to preserve the Amazon floodplain. (Bruno Kelly / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON APR 06, 2018 09:33 AM IST
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Children play in the Boca do Mamiraua community at the Mamiraua Sustainable Development Reserve. The Iauaretê Project has teamed up with the Uakari Lodge in the reserve, which is operated by an association of local residents, to offer ecotourism trips that take advantage of the trackers to allow tourists to catch a glimpse of the big cats. (Bruno Kelly / REUTERS)

Children play in the Boca do Mamiraua community at the Mamiraua Sustainable Development Reserve. The Iauaretê Project has teamed up with the Uakari Lodge in the reserve, which is operated by an association of local residents, to offer ecotourism trips that take advantage of the trackers to allow tourists to catch a glimpse of the big cats. (Bruno Kelly / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON APR 06, 2018 09:33 AM IST
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Tourists with local guides search for jaguars on treetops at the Mamiraua Reserve. Ecotourism fosters better relations between jaguars and residents, who are sometimes fearful or angry because jaguars can eat livestock and pets. The goal is to raise awareness for conservation and generate income for residents. A trip to see jaguars living in trees costs $3,000 per person. (Bruno Kelly / REUTERS)

Tourists with local guides search for jaguars on treetops at the Mamiraua Reserve. Ecotourism fosters better relations between jaguars and residents, who are sometimes fearful or angry because jaguars can eat livestock and pets. The goal is to raise awareness for conservation and generate income for residents. A trip to see jaguars living in trees costs $3,000 per person. (Bruno Kelly / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON APR 06, 2018 09:33 AM IST
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Local resident Railgler dos Santos, a field assistant on the project, said seeing the intense black eyes of a jaguar staring out from the jungle has stayed with him. “There’s definitely a connection there, having the fortune of seeing the animal face to face,” he said. (Bruno Kelly / REUTERS)

Local resident Railgler dos Santos, a field assistant on the project, said seeing the intense black eyes of a jaguar staring out from the jungle has stayed with him. “There’s definitely a connection there, having the fortune of seeing the animal face to face,” he said. (Bruno Kelly / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON APR 06, 2018 09:33 AM IST

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