Rafael Hoogesteijn is a Special Advisor for Panthera’s Jaguar program in the Pantanal, an area lying mostly within Brazil that is home to the world’s highest density of jaguar populations. Joining Panthera in early 2008, Rafael serves as an expert on cattle management and the liaison between jaguar field scientists and cattle ranchers in the northern region of the Brazilian Pantanal. Originally from Venezuela, he received his veterinary degree at Central University in Maracay and began his veterinary career working at the Caricuao Zoological Park in Caracas, Venezuela. Rafael went on to practice independently with the Venezuelan Center for Artificial Insemination and later worked in his alma mater’s Genetics Department as a Research Coordinator for various cattle ranch projects. Since then, Rafael has served as veterinarian, manager and consultant for various private cattle and water buffalo ranches in Venezuela and partnered with the Terramar Foundation to lead field research expeditions in Venezuela’s Tepuyes Mountains.
He went on to obtain his Master of Science degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida. Today, in addition to his work for Panthera, Rafael gives frequent presentations at national and international conferences on strategies to reduce livestock predation caused by jaguars and beef cattle and water buffalo breeding in tropical and flooded savanna regions. He has also contributed to dozens of publications on jaguar conservation and cattle management.