Adania, C.H., de Carvalho, W.D., Rosalino, L.M., Pereira, J.C. & Crawshaw Jr, P.G. (2017) First soft-release of a relocated puma in South America.Mammal Research, 62(1), 121-128. DOI:10.1007/s13364-016-0302-0 (IF2015 ; Q4 Zoology)
Pumas (Puma concolor) are the second largest Neotropical felid, widespread throughout of the Americas. In Brazil, the species is presently affected by habitat destruction and fragmentation, driven often by the increase of road density. As a result, individuals are often victims of collisions with vehicles, some of which survive and are taken to zoos and other institutions for treatment. Some animals recover fully and would be fit for reintroduction into the wild. However, few attempts have been made to adequately conduct and monitor these reintroductions throughout South and Central America. We here present data on a soft-release experiment with a young male puma which was hit by a vehicle in state of São Paulo, Brazil. After 16 months in a felid conservation center, the animal recovered from the wounds and was transferred to a pre-release fenced area. Diel activity differed between the two enclosures, with that in the latter being closer to what has been described for individuals in the wild (i.e., mainly nocturnal and crepuscular activity). Prior to release, the animal was equipped with a radio collar. Monitoring showed a preference for commercial forests (Pinus spp. and Eucalyptus spp.) and avoidance of pastures and secondary forests. Later, there was a shift towards primary forest. Four hundred and thirty-three days after its release, the animal was killed in another vehicle collision, 55 km from the first one. Although sample size is small and the study period short, our data on activity, habitat preferences, and movements showed that the released animal presented ecological patterns close to those described in wild animals. This suggests that the soft-release protocol used in this study worked, giving the animal another chance to survive in the highly altered anthropogenic landscapes of state of São Paulo, Brazil.