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article imageJaguars obsessed by Calvin Klein's 'Obsession for Men'

By Paris Franz     Jun 14, 2010 in World
Calvin Klein's Obsession for Men is proving to be a big hit with jaguars in the Guatemalan jungle. Scientists there are using the cologne to lure the big cats to hidden cameras in the 8,100 square mile Maya Biosphere Reserve.
The Guardian reports jaguars have been filmed rubbing, sniffing and pawing objects sprayed with the scent, a reaction which Calvin Klein's perfumers had probably not anticipated .
The discovery was first made by the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo in New York. In an attempt to draw cheetahs to camera traps, it experimented with 23 different scents. Estée Lauder's Beautiful detained the cats for two seconds on average, Revlon's Charlie lasted 15.5 seconds while Nina Ricci's L'Air du Temps managed 10.4 minutes. Obsession for Men's musky scent scored best at 11.1 minutes.
News spread to field researchers, including those in Guatemala. They sprayed it on a rag staked close to heat and motion-sensitive cameras in the hope jaguars would linger long enough for proper images.
The cologne did better than that. It prompted "cheek-rubbing behaviour" which yielded hair and DNA samples. Male and female jaguars seemed equally keen, and the project has also captured seldom-seen jaguar mating rituals.
"We're just starting to get an idea of how jaguars behave in their habitat," Roan Balas McNab, the Wildlife Conservation Society's Guatemala programme director, told the Wall Street Journal. "Before we used Obsession for Men we weren't able to get these images at all."
One of Mr McNab's goals is determining the size of the jaguar population. But the reclusive habits that made the jungle cats an object of reverence for the Maya people also make them difficult to count. In his 14 years working in the reserve, Mr. McNab says he has had only one random spotting of a jaguar.
He and his colleagues rely on heat-and-motion-sensitive cameras stationed along animal trails in the jungle. If they can get jaguars to linger, they can identify individual animals by their unique spot patterns, which are then loaded into a database, much like fingerprint records.
Mr. McNab's field biologists began spraying Obsession for Men near their cameras in 2007. Researchers squirted the cologne onto a rag tied to a stake in the ground. The elusive jaguars, which scientists say can detect smells from up to a kilometre away, crept forth. Three times as many of the cats walked by camera stands spiked with the cologne than those without it. Camera footage showed curious cats sauntering up to the scented rag, sniffing it, then lingering nearby. That diversion gave researchers the chance to get clear, full shots of the jaguars and their spot patterns.
Researchers plan to expand the use of the cologne to wilderness areas in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. Some buy the £41 bottles at duty-free shops en route to forests, others rely on donations.
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