While camera traps have been used in ecological research for decades, luring animals towards these traps requires constant innovation. And you’ll never believe what they’re now using to attract wild jaguars – Calvin Klein Obsession for Men!
According to Miguel Ordeñana, a biologist with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and an expert on camera traps, the idea belongs to a Bronx Zoo researcher who tried a bunch of different scents before discovering the jaguar’s affinity for Calvin Klein. What’s special about the cologne is that its two main ingredients – civetone and vanilla extract – create a combination that’s irresistible to these big cats.
Civetone, one of the world’s oldest perfume ingredients, is a chemical compound derived from the scent glands of civets – small nocturnal cat-like critters that are native to the Asian and African tropics. “What we think is that the civetone resembles some sort of territorial marking to the jaguar, and so it responds by rubbing its own scent on it,” said Ordeñana. And the vanilla is believed to spark the cat’s curiosity.
A researcher might spray some of the cologne on a tree branch that sits within the camera’s field of view. Ordeñana, who conducts field research on jaguars in Nicaragua, explained that the perfume plays a very important role, because camera traps help researchers collect valuable evidence about rare species and their behavior. They could also help researchers come face-to-face with animals that might otherwise be dangerous.
When asked if Ordeñana avoids wearing the scent himself while doing field work, he replied: “I don’t really care, because the chances of me running into a jaguar are so slim.” Which is why he uses camera traps in the first place. But still, the next time you happen to visit a jungle, you now know to leave your favorite perfume at home, or risk attracting some unwanted attention!