Puma will undergo surgery after receiving more than 30 pellet shots

“I won’t wait another jaguar to arrive for us in this deplorable state. Because as she must have several”, says lawyer Karine Rocha Montenegro, director of Instituto Pró-Silvestre, a non-profit organization that is taking care of a victim of a barbaric crime. The patient awaiting surgery is a puma (concolor cougar), critically endangered in Ceará, state where it was run over about a month ago. In veterinary care since then, it was found that the animal had suffered more than 30 pellet shots a few weeks before the accident.

The marks of the projectiles are almost invisible to the naked eye, but they mark a white spot on the x-ray, which was made when the animal needed to be attended to because of the two injured front legs. The cougar was run over on April 2, in the rural area of ​​the municipality of Uruoca, in northwest Ceará, 70 km from Sobral. It is a young male, less than two years old, and he was accompanied by another animal, probably his own mother, who fled when help arrived.

According to Lieutenant of the Environmental Police Battalion of the Military Police of Ceará, Lieutenant Ferreira, information about the animal being run over by the animal reached the battalion in Sobral (CE), a city about 350 km from Fortaleza, through the Integrated Coordination of Operations Security (Ciops). With the arrival of the occurrence, Ferreira organized the rescue of the animal that was approximately 80 km from the battalion. He made contact with the Fire Department and asked for help from professionals at the veterinary hospital at Centro Universitário Uninta. Although the place is not for the care of wild animals, it was there that first aid was given to the animal, so that it could be transferred to an appropriate place in the state capital.

Ferreira explains that the jaguar had only the injuries from being run over. The pellet marks were seen only on radiography. “In a conversation with the vet, he told me that these shots had probably wounded the animal for about 30 days or more, because the wounds had already healed”, said the lieutenant.

The vehicle that hit the animal did not help. According to the police officer, the car behind asked for help and called 911. Residents of the region said that there was another jaguar and that it stayed close to the injured animal, but fled when the population began to gather around the scene. of the accident.

“We are working in the field of hypotheses. Also because the weapon used against the animal is not the one that a hunter would use in order to kill it. This type of weapon is normally used in hunting birds. It could be that she arrived at some rural property and someone shot her, or a hunter could have come across her and shot her to scare her away. We made several inquiries at the scene, and we seized firearms in the region with a caliber compatible with what was used in the jaguar”.

waiting for surgery

The animal remains hospitalized at the facilities of Ibama’s Wild Animal Screening Center (Cetas) in Fortaleza, where it is being kept by Instituto Pró-Silvestre, which is Ibama’s partner in Cetas.

“This issue of hunting, unfortunately, is still quite recurrent in the state. We have observed that when inspections are carried out in the interior, in more isolated areas, precisely where there is greater diversity of animals, this situation occurs. There are even many seizures of specific weapons for hunting animals of different species”, explains Alberto Klefasz, an environmental analyst at IBAMA. “For example, when hunting deer, they use a 22 shotgun a lot. When hunting birds, they use what they call a tampon – a kind of artisanal weapon where they use a capsule that they fill with lead. Possibly, in the case of this jaguar, they used the tampon. The weapon was not able to kill the animal, but it caused all this problem”, says the environmental analyst.

Montenegro works with one more hypothesis than the police, which is that hunters targeted the animal. The monstrosity of the act probably cost the life of the jaguar, which even if it survives the surgery, will never be able to return to the wild. “This animal must be two years old at the most. And he, if he survives, will have a life of [como se tivesse] already end of life. Kidneys compromised. It is very sad and it is very revolting”, says Karine Rocha Montenegro.

Wounded jaguar. Photo: Leandro Barbosa.

Once it settles in the body, the lead toxicity begins to weaken the animal. What forces the withdrawal of projectiles urgently. However, the situation is not so simple. Due to the high degree of intervention performed on the jaguar during first aid, another surgery is now very risky. So, the option was to wait. “As the animal had just undergone a surgical procedure, it was left for us to take better images and verify the next steps after a month of the procedure, given the complexity of taking the animal down for inspection, in addition to the need to verify the progress of the surgery of the fractures in the paws”, explains veterinarian Marcelo Jucá, from Instituto Pró-Silvestre. He also explains that of the approximately 30 pellets lodged in the puma’s body, five are of critical risk, “the bullets lodged in the kidneys and in the hip and spine region”.

Orthopedist and wildlife clinician, veterinarian Lucio Mendes Filho, will perform the surgery to remove the projectiles and explains that they are made up of different metals, including lead, which is a heavy metal and is gradually released into the animal’s bloodstream. , causing intoxication that, in the medium and long term, culminates in lethargy, apathy, incoordination and renal failure. “We have two projectiles in each kidney. It turns out that this affects the jaguar’s kidney function, not to mention that it makes it easier for lead to enter the animal’s blood contract, due to its vascularization. Not to mention that she also has a lead lodged in her stomach and several in her musculature”, says Lucio. “I believe that, due to the injuries being very old, speaking of the projectiles, she must have been run over because she already showed signs of intoxication or secondary infection”, he concludes.

The cougar remains under medical supervision, in an isolated cage. In view of the situation, the director of the Instituto Pró-Silvestre hopes that the case will serve as a lesson for there to be more inspection and environmental education in the state. “We also have to go to the root of the problem and not just the tip. Going to the root is getting there for the shooter who is on a bullet who is training aiming, as they say here, and reaching out to him and saying ‘this is not an object of aim training, my brother’. This will take you to jail, get you fined”, defends the lawyer.

A crowdfunding campaign was launched by Instituto Pró-Silvestre to pay for the treatment of the puma. Anyone who wants to collaborate with a donation can do so through pix: [email protected].

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