Photo: ‘Tonho da Onca’ (Jaguar Tony). Courtesy of Brazilian Federal Police.
Twenty years ago Brazil’s most notorious jaguar hunter, Teodoro Antonio Melo Neto, also known as “Tonho da onça” or “Jaguar Tony,” swore off poaching after logging 600 kills.
The foe-turned-jaguar-ally began helping conservation agencies track the elusive cats for their monitoring and research and his dramatic change of heart even became the subject of a children’s book, titled Tonho da Onça, which related a conservation message. More recently, however, “Jaguar Tony,” now 71 years old, revealed his true spots when federal agents busted him and seven others for illegal jaguar hunting.
In late 2009, Brazilian federal authorities launched a nine-month investigation, code-named Operation Jaguar, after receiving reports of radio-collared jaguars that had “gone silent” and also of jaguar carcasses on farms in Brazil’s Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland – about the size of Illinois – and prime habitat for the large cats. …read more of Operation Jaguar: Poaching and Human-Wildlife Conflict here