This rare footage of jaguar cubs is inspiring hope for Brazil’s endangered cat

Footage from hidden cameras in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest is inspiring new hope for the region’s critically endangered jaguar (Panthera onca). Fewer than 300 of these great cats remain in the forest, where they are confined to small patches of jungle surrounded by cities and farmland. So it was “the most beautiful thing in the world,” when Beatriz Beisiegel captured rare footage of a healthy female jaguar followed by her two cubs in December 2016 in Carlos Botelho State Park. The trio passed the camera trap not once, but at least three times, the last with full bellies. This is the first time that Beisiegel, a biologist with the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation in Brasília, has seen a cub in her 12 years monitoring jaguars in the dense jungles of the Ribeira Valley, in southern São Paulo state. The sighting is especially encouraging, given the constant threat of poaching in these encroached forests. Just last month, another jaguar was illegally shot and killed on nearby private lands by hunters who bragged about the deed in a viral internet video. Beisiegel says she hopes her videos will inspire others to protect jaguars and reject a bill currently moving through the Brazilian Congress that would legalize the sport hunting of wild animals. Appropriately enough, she has given an apt name to the female jaguar: Hope.