03 Nov

A Google Search Ending In Success: Wild Jaguar Scat

Panthera

One of the critical (but not so glamorous) research activities required of Panthera’s scientists involves the collection of wild cat scat, or poo. Panthera’s field staff frequently set out on foot to track down scat, which is then sent to the laboratories at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City where it is analyzed to reveal genetic data about individuals (their range, abundance, diet, and genetic diversity).

This information is particularly valuable in Central and South America, where Panthera is working to establish the Jaguar Corridor that links core jaguar populations from northern Argentina to Mexico and prevents inbreeding to ensure the genetic integrity of the species. Luckily, Panthera’s scientists in Costa Rica have the help of a secret scat search engine, a dog named Google.

Google’s first wild scat.

Google joined Panthera’s team back in 2010 and was certified as an official jaguar scat detecting dog by the Miami K-9 Academy in January of 2011. We are now proud to share that not long after this achievement, and a thorough training period, Google has successfully tracked down his first wild felid scat!

Google’s first successful trip at La Selva Biological Station and at the border between Braulio Carillo National Park and a private forested farm resulted in three scat finds belonging to cougars – another wild cat with which jaguars share their range throughout some regions of Latin America. Soon after on a six hour hike in the Rara Avis Rainforest Reserve with Panthera’s field scientists to check camera traps, Google located an additional six cat scats, including one belonging to a jaguar and ocelot and four belonging to a cougar. Starting to show off, Google tracked down four additional cat scats in Rar Avis a few days later, which are yet to be analyzed, but likely belong to a jaguar, ocelot, and cougar. To top it off, we’ve just received a report that Google tracked down another cougar scat last Friday in the Selva Verde Lodge region!

These skills are sure to make future scat searches far more efficient and accurate, and will help shape Panthera’s jaguar conservation initiatives in Costa Rica and beyond.

Locations of Google’s Scat Finds in Costa Rica
Click map to enlarge

Photos of Google



Google’s Media Coverage

Panthera’s Coverage on Google