Mario was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil and since childhood has always had two passions, race cars and wildlife. After a career of almost 20 years in motor sport with stints in F1 and Indy Car, Mario has now fully devoted his career to wildlife conservation. Mario has travelled widely in order to support and learn from various conservation projects worldwide; this has included time with Gorillas, Tigers, Polar Bears, Pandas, Leopards and Lions to name but a few. Mario is now focused on helping to preserve and add value to the wildlife of his country of birth, Brazil.
Simon is originally from Zimbabwe where as a child he developed a passion for big cats and all things natural. Simon began his professional guiding career in South Africa working in a number of famed private wildlife reserves before becoming an international wildlife guide. He is now certified with the most advanced level of his profession in South Africa. When Mario and Simon met, they drew up a plan on how to promote and develop ecotourism in Brazil. After several visits to the Pantanal it was clear that for any plan to work the Jaguar had to be included, hence arose the idea to habituate the Jaguars. Simon has been involved in the Jaguar Habituation/Oncafari Project since inception and regularly visits the Pantanal bringing his global experience and new ideas on how to best achieve our goals.
Rogério de Paula Cunha is a biologist with a Masters in Biological Sciences and is an environmental analyst for the National Centre for Research and Conservation of Carnivorous Mammals (CENAP) and the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio/MMA). Rogério has implemented national action plans for the Jaguar, the Puma and the Maned Wolf; he is also a research associate of the Institute OSCIP Pro- Carnivores, developing research projects since 1997 in different ecosystems of Brazil. Rogério has in depth experience in techniques for the capture and management of wildlife, identification methods, survey methodology, carnivore monitoring techniques and population evaluation. He is a member of national and international committees for conservation of carnivores including specialist groups for Canidae and Felidae and the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), being the co-ordinator of the Working Group for the Maned Wolf and consultant to global issues related to conflicts between big cats and human population.Rogério's responsibility in the Jaguar Habituation/Oncafari Project involves the planning and execution of the capture and monitoring of Jaguars, the technical-scientific component of the process of habituation and general design strategies as a conservation tool.
Lilian graduated in Biology in 2005 and in has a postgraduate in wildlife management. She worked at Sao Paulo’s Zoo for a few years, had brief internships in some Argentinean zoos and was also in charge of a screening centre for wild animals on the coast of Brazil. She has extensive experience in the reintroduction felines back to nature. Since 2011 she has also been a member of a project that monitors wild cats in Brazil’s Atlantic Coastal Forest. Lilian has been working for the Jaguar Habituation/Oncafari Project since November 2012. She is responsible for the compilation and organization of all the data collected in the field and is particularly interested in the behavioural aspects of Jaguars in the Pantanal.
Leonardo is a biologist and systems analyst. He has in the past worked with environmental education and captive mammal management, rescue and treatment.Leonardo has been working at the Jaguar Habituation/Oncafari Project since November 2012 and is responsible for placing camera traps, analyzing data captured from the camera traps, VHF monitoring and habituation.
Some kids dream of being astronauts or firemen and others dream of working with Tigers and Lions. It was with the dream of one day working with big cats that Joares May Junior went to college to study veterinary medicine where he graduated in 1997 from the State University of Santa Catarina and directed all his studies to the conservation of wild species. He has worked with wildlife clinics in veterinary hospitals and zoological gardens but since 2004, he has operated exclusively in the area of medical conservation of wild animals like Foxes, Bush Dogs, Maned Wolves, Jaguars, Pumas and small wild cats. He has an MSc in Veterinary Epidemiology from the University of São Paulo as well as specializations in medicine and management of wildlife today. He is part of the Institute Pro- carnivores, Insular Global Conservation Society and a professor at the University of Southern Santa Catarina. He has been working for the Jaguar Habituation/Oncafari Project since it’s inception and is responsible for capture and epidemiological assessments of the monitored animals.
Adriano Gambarini has been a photographer and writer since 1992, and is the Jaguar Habituation/Oncafari Project official photographer. Considered as one of the most well known natural and cultural photographers in Brazil, he has great experience with outdoor photography in remote areas. As he often participates in historical and environmental expeditions throughout Brazil, he is also associated with a number of NGOs - World Wild Foundation (WWF), Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Pro-Carnivorous Institute and Terra Brasilis Institute. He is the author of 13 photographic books, one of these with an emphasis on Brazilian carnivorous species, principally Jaguars and Maned Wolves. He has also published the first art book on Brazilian caves.
Born in Santa Catarina, Edu graduated as a biologist in 2014 at the State University of Ponta Grossa (PR). Since then he has been dedicated to the research and conservation of mammals, with emphasis on free-roaming carnivores. He has worked with capture and monitoring programs of three species of wild Canids in the Brazilian Cerrado (Hoary fox, Crab-eating fox and Manned wolf ) and pumas in Minas Gerais. He joined the Onçafari Jaguar Project’s team in mid 2015. He’s job is to assist in camera trapping, collection and compilation of field data, tracking and habituation of Jaguars at Caiman Ecological Refuge .
Born and raised in the city of Aquidauana (state of Mato Grosso do Sul), Mario has always been close to the nature of the Pantanal.
At the age of 20, he was hired to work with the maintenance of the Caiman Ecological Refuge and did a little bit of everything. At the refuge, he met the Onçafari Project researchers and with their help learned that jaguars must be respected. He then began to observe these animals at sunset. Eventually, he was hired by Onçafari as a field guide.
Today he takes tourists around the forest, crosses rivers and lagoons, and shows them not only the jaguars, but also anteaters, macaws, tuiuiú birds, pampas deer, and blue herons. He also participates in captures together with veterinarians and biologists. He used to be afraid of jaguars. Now, he is afraid they will be extinct.
Jéssica graduated as a Biologist from the Federal University of Minas Gerais in 2014 and focused her studies on her great passion: Ecology. Interested in collecting data in the field as well as in the relationships between animals and the environment, she worked in different research projects and was an exchange student for the “Sciences Without Borders” program at the University of Coimbra in Portugal, with a study plan focused on Ecology and Conservation. She worked in fauna rescues in different states of Brazil, where she got to know the countrie’s enormous biodiversity. She moved to the Amazon in 2016 where she worked as naturalist guide at the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve and discovered her passion for ecotourism, becoming part of the Onçafari team as a bilingual guide in March 2017.
Jéssica earned her degree in Biology in 2014 from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, with a major in her greatest passion: ecology. Interested in collecting field data and aboutthe relations between living beings and the environment, she worked as an intern in various research projects. She also participated as an exchange student in the Sciences Without Borders program in the University of Coimbra, Portugal, focusing her studies on ecology and conservation. Jéssica has worked in fauna rescues in various Brazilian states, learning much about the great biodiversity of Brazil. She moved to the Amazon in 2016, where she worked as a naturalist guide in the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve. She found her passion in ecotourism and became part of the Onçafari team as a bilingual guide in March 2017.