The Cerrado covers 25% of Brazil and is the country’s second largest biome after the Amazon. This savannah-like vegetation varies from grasslands to riparian forest habitats. Intense agricultural production in the Cerrado initiated in the late 60’s has since been the main cause of habitat fragmentation. It is estimated that 80% of the Cerrado has been partially degraded through conversion into agricultural lands (Cavalcanti e Joly, 2002).
The Cerrado is considered one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots as it is home to both a high degree of species endemism and threats. In the Cerrado, Jaguar Conservation Fund/Instituto Onça-Pintada is currently working in three protected areas:
Emas National Park (ENP): Located in one of the country’s most productive farming areas in the extreme southwest of Goiás state, this Park protects 132,000 hectares (326,177 acres) of the best grasslands of central Brazil. The Park is also home to the last grassland jaguars in this part of the country. At the Park’s border lies the Araguaia River, one of the largest in the country. The remaining natural vegetation along the Araguaia allows wildlife movement and dispersal between Emas Park and the Amazon. Therefore, the long-term conservation of this corridor is critical in maintaining a genetically viable jaguar population in Emas National Park.
Nascentes do Rio Parnaíba National Park (NRPNP): Located in northeastern Brazil, this 734.000 hectares (1,813,746 acres) Park comprises parts of the States of Piauí, Maranhão, and Tocantins. The Park protects the largest block of grasslands in this area of Brazil. Here the Cerrado transitions into the semi-arid Caatinga biome.
Uruçuí-Una Ecological Station (UUES): Also located in northeastern Brazil, in the state of Piauí, this 135.000-hectare (333,590 acres) Park is characterized by a flat plateau covered by grasslands over sandy ground. It is estimated that Nascentes and Uruçuí-Una together protect at least 60 mammal species, including the jaguar.