Researchers that study the wild jaguars of Guatemala have long had difficulty taking a census of the number of animals in the 8,100 acre Maya Biosphere Reserve. They recently discovered a new method to help their study from an unlikely source, Obsession for Men cologne by Calvin Klein.
Researchers applied the fragrance near their motion-activated camera systems, which led to the cats approaching and rubbing against the scent long enough to be recorded.
Cats engage in a “rubbing” behavior in order to deposit their own scents as well as acquiring the scents that appeal to them. It turns out that Obsession contains Civetone, a chemical that was previously obtained from the nocturnal civet, and vanilla. The combination of these two is believed to be causing the attraction of these jaguars who seek to replace the civetone scent with their own by licking off and then rubbing against it, in what is likely to be a territorial display.
Roan Balas McNab of the Wildlife Conservation Society in Guatemala stated, “We’re just starting to get an idea of how jaguars behave in their habitat. Before we used Obsession for Men we weren’t able to get these images at all. What we thing is that the civetone resembles some sort of territorial marking to the jaguar, and so it responds by rubbing its own scent on it.”
The fragrance from Calvin Klein is unique, because many other scents that were tested could only hold a large cat’s attention for a few seconds, while Obsession was shown to work on cheetahs at a Bronx Zoo for around 11 minutes.
Jaguars are difficult to study due to their solitary nature, roaming in areas of up to 25 miles. This, coupled with the jaguar’s 2000 psi bite, form the reasoning for the camera observation strategy used by researchers.