Appreciating and monitoring the beauty of Amazon’s biodiversity up close

 A Puma! This is amazing!’, he whispers as he sees the animal, and quickly lets out a laugh. This is how the local biodiversity monitors Zeziel Ferreira and Pedro Nascimento reacted when they filmed a puma in a 35-second video at Jamari National Forest (Flona), in the Amazon.

 The video is a product of ‘citizen scientists’ who participate in the Ecological Institute for Research (IPÊ) project Participatory Monitoring for Biodiversity (MPB), developed in partnership with the Institute Chico Mendes of Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio). Both supported the Partnership for Conservation of Biodiversity in the Amazon (PCAB).

USAID/Brasil and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation are behind MPB which is part of the National Monitoring Program for Biodiversity (Monitora). The main goal is to support biodiversity and promote socio-environmental engagement to strengthen the management of the protected areas. 

For the past five years, the program has directly helped over 3.8 thousand people in 18 different protected areas and supported the conservation of over 12 million hectares in the Amazon.

 Jamari’s Flona is located between Itapuã do Oeste and Cujubim in Rondonia state, and was one of the first sustainable protected areas in Brazil, covering approximately 223,000 hectares. It was also where the first forestry concession for forest management was granted. 

A hundred local residents of Jamari’s Flona enrolled in the program and became biodiversity monitors. The forest acts as a shelter for several species of animals, plants, and withstands pressure such as deforestation. This is precisely why the monitors work with conservation and report invasion attempts.

“When we involve the community in monitoring, MPB also amplifies and enhances the connection with the environment, as well as their environmental sensitivity and the importance of protected areas. Besides the scientific benefit, with a wider knowledge of the species and biodiversity the protected forest can also rely on people that care, that report wrong activities, helping our management”, says Paulo Henrique Bonavigo, IPÊ researcher at Jamari’s Flona.

 Sights - Flona’s activities include monitoring animals through camera traps that photograph several movements and linear transection. The animals walk through a straight-lined trail (transect) in order to register species’ sights. 

During one of these activities, Zeziel and Pedro found one of the biggest Brazilian felids, less than 13 feet away. A Puma concolor can jump from a distance of up to 19 feet and can reach over 49 feet in height. Due to its nocturnal habit, it is rarely spotted this close.