Jaguar Kills Fisherman


From Colombia, the case of a fisherman killed by a jaguar:

Un jaguar mató a un pescador en Urabá - El Colombiano:

When he was going to check on a trasmallo (fishing net) in Bocas del Atrato, in the Turbo municipality of the Urabá region, fisherman Matías Escarpeta was killed by a jaguar, local authorities said.
The police commandant of the Urabá Division, colonel Leonardo Mejía, indicated that the event took place Thursday afternoon, but the corpse was only recovered this Friday...
He added that this case was reported to Corpurabá, entity for the preservation of wildlife in the Urabá Gulf region, so that peasants and fishermen in that jungle zone will hunt the cat down. The Government Secretary of Turbo, Ramon Perez, said that the event took place in the same area where in April, a logger operating a chainsaw was also devoured by a jaguar....The place is known to hold populations of jaguars and cougars, which the locals call tigers and pumas.

(English translation courtesy of Hodari Nundu.)

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As readers of The Book of Deadly Animals will know, jaguars prey on people less often than other big cats. But cases are well documented, and solitary workers in the wild are at risk. 

I came across an interesting case in the writings of the great naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, whose expedition visited South America at the turn of the nineteenth century:

Two Indian children, a boy and girl eight or nine years of age, were sitting among the grass near the village of Atures in the midst of a savannah. It was two in the afternoon when a jaguar issued from the forest and approached the children gambolling around them sometimes concealing itself among the long grass and again springing forward with his back curved and his head lowered as is usual with our cats. The little boy was unaware of the danger in which he was placed and became sensible of it only when the jaguar struck him on the side of the head with one of his paws. The blows thus inflicted were at first slight but gradually became ruder. The claws of the jaguar wounded the child and blood flowed with violence. The little girl then took up the branch of a tree and struck the animal which fled before her. The Indians hearing the cries of the children ran up and saw the jaguar which bounded off without showing any disposition to defend itself.

What interest me here is that the cat seems to play with the children before becoming more aggressive. This suggests that the jaguar was a juvenile just learning to hunt on its own. As cat owners can attest, felines don't always distinguish between play and hunting. Such playful behavior is the animal's way of learning about potential prey--and how to handle it.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting account :> I too immediatly thought the jag was just playing- had it wanted to kill (if it had been a hungry, experienced cat) it would have bitten immediatly and killed instantly.

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