A biologist studying big cats in Nicaragua is using designer cologne to draw Jaguars to his photo traps. Two ingredients, vanilla extract and civetone, may be what’s attracting them.
Have you ever watched a nature documentary and wondered how biologists manage to lure all sorts of animals to their camera traps? Miguel Ordeñana, a biologist from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, says the secret is expensive cologne.
Camera traps are an excellent way to collect data on wildlife because it is non-intrusive. You rig a camera up in the wilderness and attach a motion sensor to it. Whenever an animal passes in front of the camera, it triggers the sensor and the camera snaps a photo. During night, there’s often also an infrared flash, invisible to the eyes of most animals.
However, a camera trap is useless unless there’s wildlife around, and that’s where the cologne comes in. Ordeñana uses cologne to attract Jaguars whenever he’s doing field research in Nicaragua. He explains that a researcher at the Bronx zoo once tried spraying several different scents around a Jaguar enclosure and discovered that Jaguars really enjoy Obsession by Calvin Klein.
I always figured Jaguars would be more into Hugo Boss
So why is Obsession such a big hit with the cats? It might be because of two ingredients; vanilla extract and civetone. Civetone is a chemical compound found in the sweat glands of civets, small nocturnal cats native to Africa and Asia. Civetone is one of the oldest known ingredients in cologne. “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,” explains Ordeñana. The vanilla, in turn, might peak the Jaguars’ curiosity.