Argentina counts first wild-born jaguars in forest region where the species was wiped out seven decades ago

For the first time in 70 years, jaguars have been born in a wetlands area of Argentina where the big cats had long been extinct.

Rewilding Argentina Foundation made the groundbreaking announcement this week with the release of motion-triggered footage of a jaguar parent carrying a cub in its mouth in the Iberá Park. It’s one of two new baby jaguars born in “total freedom” in the 1.8-million-acre park to a female released in the region in 2021.

“If both cubs survive —something we will know in the coming weeks— the population of Iberá will have ten free jaguars, which is extremely important considering that in the entire Chaco region Argentina it is estimated that only about 15 individuals survive,” Sebastián Di Martino, conservation director of Fundación Rewilding Argentina, said in a statement.

There are four other young jaguars living freely in Iberá were born inside the Yaguareté Reintroduction Center (CRY) — and only later released with their mothers, the organization explained.

The jaguar program, a partnership among governments and non-profit groups, was created in 2012 to rewild the species.

The parents of these baby jaguars are mother Arami, one of the first two jaguars born through CRY, and father Jatobazinho, a wild jaguar that was found in a Brazilian rural school and wound up with this rewilding initiative in 2019.

Their mating also occurred in the wild.

The cats are collared so they can be tracked, which was how officials suspected babies had been born.

“It was thanks to the images of a camera trap that the good news could finally be confirmed: in two consecutive videos, Arami appears carrying the puppies in her mouth,” the foundation said.

The jaguars that are part of the conservation effort action like typical wild animals: they have established territories, avoid humans and hunt on capybaras, pigs and deer to survive.

“The return of the jaguar will also help restore the Iberá ecosystem, recently devastated by wildfire,”  Di Martino added, “The rewilding program seeks to recover the ecological functionality of the wetlands by bringing back missing species. As the top predator, the jaguar has a key role to play.”

A partner in the project, Tompkins Conservation, said the species has lost more than 95 per cent of its original range in Argentina.

“I am overjoyed with the news that one of the two original jaguar cubs born at the reintroduction center has had cubs of her own,” said the conservation group’s president, Kristine Tompkins. “With jaguars now successfully breeding in the wild, the species is well on its way to recovering.”

Officials found the baby jaguars in a hollow at the base of a tree, where they safely take shelter when the mother goes out for food. Photo: Rewilding Argentina Foundation/Facebook

And now, the newest — and possibly cutest — residents of the region already have names.

On is named Arandu, which means “a wise being”, and the other is Jasy, or “moon.”

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Recovering newspaper reporter.

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