Conservationists in Guatemala have documented a rare example of a predator hunting wild on each other. Sadly, climate change can make this type of interaction more common.
The jaguar lay waiting at the edge of the waterhole for the better part of an hour. The hunter had decided on an inaccessible location, as the other nearest water source was 6 miles (10 km) away. It was a dry season in Guatemala, and water became scarce.
A large Tepir arrived at the scene, but the big cat decided to pass on that possible food. The jaguar leapt to action at the end when an unruly one stopped for a precious gull, bouncing on the little cat and taking it away in its big jaw. Gradually, four glowing eyes can be seen in the dark – two of which will never see the light of day again.
This rare interaction, in which one predator preys on another, is described in a new research paper published in Biotropica. Wildlife from Washington State University and the Wildlife Conservation Society documented the scene with a camera trap placed near the waterhole – one of dozens of teams in the area set up.
Jaguars, which can weigh more than 200 pounds, do not usually hunt ocellates, which weigh between 18 and 44 pounds. According to a WSU release, these are the first known images of an ocelot being captured by a jagler.
The scene was captured in the Maya Biosphere Reserve in March 2019. The team, which was studying the distribution of animals in northern Guatemala, placed camera traps at 42 different waterholes, of which only 21 contained water during the drought. As mentioned earlier, the nearest waterhole shown here was several miles away, highlighting the strategic importance of chance for wildlife.
The authors in the study stated that during times of drought and times of severe drought, “the likelihood of invasive interactions between carnivores may increase when water is not readily divided”.
In other episodes captured at this waterhole, camera traps showed a Jaguar trying to capture a fight between a young Tepir and two Jaguars. Conservationists made an unusual observation on seven different jaguars in this particular waterhole, observing the species’ tendency to stay away from each other and in their own territories.
Daniel Thornton, an assistant professor at WSU and co-author, said, “While these hunter-on-hunter interactions may be rare, when they become more prevalent, there can be certain examples, and on one of them Can be contested. ” Paper stated in WSU’s statement.
In which he stated: “People often don’t think of tropical systems as being dry, but in many parts of the world, tropical rain is quite seasonal, and with climate change, some of these tropical ecosystems become even more seasonal. Is expected. The more isolated and scarce water resources are formed, the more they are becoming centers of activity. ”
If climate change remains uncontrolled then big cats will not be the only animals competing for water. Experts have identified such hotspots around the world where humans may soon go to war over access to water.
A UN report published last week said that we have almost a decade to control climate change, which is honest – it is unlikely to happen. So break out your goalkeeper’s masks and harpoon guns, a Mad Max future awaits! Now, as new research suggests, we also know the extent to which inevitable water wars are possible on Earth.
Published today in Global Environmental Change, the paper identifies several hotspots around the world where “hydro-political issues” are, in the view of researchers, likely to give rise to geopolitical tensions, and possibly conflicts as well. The authors of the new report, a team from the Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission, say that the increasing effects of climate change, combined with ongoing trends in population growth, can promote regional instability and social unrest in those regions Where there is a shortage of sweet water. , And where border countries have to manage and share this increasingly scarce commodity.
Clearly, the causes of geopolitical tensions and conflicts are complex, but as the new report makes clear, we should not underestimate the role that water is going to play in the future. Competition for dwindling water resources, the authors say, will increase tensions globally in the coming decades, with some areas more vulnerable than others. But how are the various factors affecting the demand and availability of water to affect the worldwide population.