Electronic ears spy on poachers in a key Central American jaguar habitat

Electronic ears spy on poachers in a key Central American jaguar habitat

A gunshot explodes through the rainforest, followed by what sounds like branches falling from a tree. A dog barks. “Tito, did I hit it?” a man asks his companion in Spanish. “Oh yes, I did hit it. Look, there is blood dripping. I shot it from over there.” These sounds were recorded on an acoustical monitoring unit deployed by Panthera, a wild cat conservation organization, in Guatemala’s Sierra Caral National Protected Area, a region close to the Honduras border. “We believe they shot an animal that was up the trees,” Franklin Castañeda, Panthera’s Honduras director, told Mongabay. “I’m guessing it could have been a monkey or some kind of great curassow bird.” In 2017, Panthera started using acoustical monitoring systems to help strengthen its anti-poaching patrols in three protected areas: Honduras’s Cusuco and Jeannette Kawas national parks, and Guatemala’s Sierra Caral National Protected Area. Now that the program has been running for four years, Castañeda says he can see its positive effect in the organization’s patrolling efforts. For instance, in August 2020, authorities were able to arrest three poachers in Honduras based on acoustical information, according to Panthera. “The acoustic monitoring is a tool [that] gives us … information to improve patrols, to make them more effective,” Castañeda said. “For example, we now know that poachers are preparing [to go out on] dark nights when the moon is not out. How do we know that? We know that because … we hear a lot more shot guns on the dark…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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