National Geographic : 2001 May
one in the wild. For Rivera it was another day at the office. He had killed at least a hun dred jaguars, both for sport and to control livestock raiders. In 1987 Mexico finally joined other coun tries that had put a stop to the taking of jaguars. A decade later Rivera was hired for an ecology study conducted by the National Autonomous University of Mexico, a private group known as United for Conservation, and other partners, and guided sportsmen willing to pay $5,000 each to shoot jaguars with drug laden darts. Once downed, the animals were fitted with radio collars. But at the moment, instead of catch-and release safari hunters, Rivera was with several researchers who wanted to observe him put another jaguar on the airwaves. A dart zinged into the male's rump. The sting spurred the cat to climb down. It reached the ground and bounded away, hounds in full cry at its heels. With an immobilizing chemical cours ing through its bloodstream, we should have found this animal sprawled out within min utes. Instead, we encountered only trampled plants where it had spun to swipe at the pursu ing pack. The drug dose may have been too light. Tracks led on to the mouth of a deep limestone cavern. Enter my secret cave, where I wait stung and angry. Come, you men with your modern devices, and let me see if you have a heart....