Delightful company out of the cockpit, but hard-as-nails inside — and prone to some reasonable share of tremendous shunts! — I’ve known Mario since his native Formula Ford days of 1995. While he’s the amiable character he always was, his life is quite different nowadays, however that steely determination remains.

“In Brazil, most of wild creatures fit in with the government,” says Haberfeld. “When I told them I wanted to conserve these jaguars they inquired, ‘What’s background? ” And that I said: & & lsquo;& I ’MA racecar driver. ’ A guy started laughing in my face…

“Fortunately, another guy gave me the licenses that I needed — he said I’d give up the project in one year, even though… two years on, it’s been one of the greatest news reports in Brazil! ”

Mario Haberfeld, Stewart SF2

Mario Haberfeld,” Stewart SF2

Photo by: Sutton Images

The podium: race winners Mario Haberfeld, Rubens Barrichello and Tony Kanaan

The podium: race winners Mario Haberfeld, Rubens Barrichello and Tony Kanaan

Photo by: Miguel Costa Jr/ Divulga

Mario Haberfeld, Stewart SF2

Mario Haberfeld,” Stewart SF2

Photo by: Sutton Images

Before all this, there once was a time if Haberfeld was tipped as a possible f 1 driver. And while they all went on to race in Formula 1, then he also proceeded on to try for McLaren, Stewart GP and Jordan.

Regrettably, his European racing career stalled outside at FIA Formula 3000. At a confidence-battering first season in 1999 with the West Competition Team (aka McLaren Junior), he failed to score a point. While teammate Nick Heidfeld won the name, Haberfeld even failed to make up for five rounds. A second season, using Fortec Motorsport, comprised a nasty accident in Barcelona that put him out of action for two rounds.

A third season in 2001 using supernova yielded one points finish, a fourth place in Barcelona, and it was just in his fourth season using Astromega that the outcomes started to stream, including a runnerup finish from the Interlagos season opener.

Mario Haberfeld, Supernova

Mario Haberfeld,” Supernova

Photo by: Joe Santos

Mario Haberfeld

Mario Haberfeld

However, it was enough; the F1 doorway has been shut. He travelled back over the Atlantic to forge a livelihood in the United States, first in Champ Car. Again, there was much promise, with strong finishes despite maybe not running for top teams.

Finally, he turned into Grand-Am, sharing an automobile with Adrian Fernandez. And now then there his rushing odyssey came to a finish. Unimpressed by the possibility of a long time in Brazilian Stock Cars, he turned his back racing indefinitely, and turned his attention full time into his other great passion: conservation.

Mario Haberfeld

Mario Haberfeld

Inside his native Brazil, the jaguar is facing a gloomy future.

After pursuing around the world’s racetracks, Haberfeld is much more inclined now available within his all-wheel-drive Mitsubishi on dirt tracks from Brazil’s Pantanal wetlands, dealing with his loyal team to learn as much as they can about these creatures that are influential, and to complete whatever to coach the world about them via his Oncafari project.

Oncafari Project – wild jaguar relaxes in evening sun

Oncafari Project — uncontrolled jaguar hastens in evening sunlight

Photo by: Charles Bradley

“Ninety-five percentage of the Pantanal is private land, also you’ve got lots of cattle ranches,” he explains. “Much like when people visit a snake, they kill it, because they think it introduces a threat — they was able to do exactly the very same together with jaguars. You’d also acquire poachers who wanted their fur, and a few generations ago if you killed a jaguar you’re a actual man.

“The fur industry was very big at the US; they once killed 20,000 jaguars in one year to furnish this transaction. Nowadays, in the event you become caught hunting these , you go to prison. Nevertheless, the big problem today is [farmers] hunting in retaliation for the jaguar feeding in their cattle.

“Therefore, what we’re attempting to do — and what I’ve ever learned out of all the places I’ve ever seen round the world — is that, through eco tourism, you aggregate significance into these creatures.

&ldquoWe see it a lot in Africa. Nobody goes to see a hippo — although hippos are great — however you move to observe a lion. It’s the same in Brazil, where individuals now have jaguars instead of lions. Where we operate a 53,000-hectare ranch, owned by a good close friend of mine — we’r e very conservation-conscious. Even the regional farmers understand that they ’re going to drop a few cows to jaguars per year, but the eco tourism business we’ve that brings people here, this gives them a lot more. ”

However there was a fundamental problem to eco tourism predicated on jaguar spotting. Despite their size the third-biggest cat in the world supporting tigers and lions, and pound-for-pound the most powerful — they truly are elusive and basically quite idle animals. When they hunt, usually during the night or early morning, they truly are primarily opportunistic feeders lying low and waiting until some thing falls beyond to attack.

Oncafari Project – wild jaguar uses cover of darkness to return to the site of a kill it made the previous day

Oncafari Project — uncontrolled jaguar uses cover of shadow to return to the website of a kill it created the preceding day

Mix that with the Pantanal’s verdant vegetation, and despite his team listing 133 unique jaguars on their website over seven decades, until now, you had no guarantee of finding one!  The owner of this Caiman Ecological Refuge the Haberfeld’s team computes of has possessed a safari lodge for 20 decades however as Mario explains: ldquo;The people who came enjoyed the paychecks, appreciated seeing the monkeys, tapirs, birds — but they didn’t even see a jaguar.

“just how to fix that was to produce jaguars sense viewable by people. Everything I learned from South Africa, also also exactly what we adopted, was a project from Kruger Park. They had the same position, however together with leopards. ”

Haberfeld’s idea was, if it was done before in Africa, why not in the southern Pantanal too?

Oncafari Project

Oncafari Project

“A guy, where a place called Londolozi [in South Africa] possessed a cattle ranch which wasn’t very profitable — in reality, his dad won this land in a tennis game! Anyway, he started after a lady leopard for a number years in his car.

“Guess what: the leopard always hurried a way, because it’s what they do — they were hunted for their fur by people for years. However, after 3 decades, because he didn’t even make an effort to hurt it, the leopard decided to stop running, it instead got used to him. The leopard had cubs, and so they learned from the mother not to be fearful with this guy. It didn’t even miss the panic.

“He saw that leopard every single moment. You know, in that time, you could not observe a leopard any place on earth. They’re elusive, like jaguars. So he made a great success of his safari lodge, people can come and, because of him, see wild leopards — the only real place on earth. Afterward your neighbors began to copy him.

“Today, on a enormous parcel of land, which was private land for sheep, they made a significant reserve — and joined to the Kruger Park. So now the creatures can roam free in a larger area. The land value of the properties went up a lot due to the eco-tourism that followed that.

“Today, this guy’s neighbor sold his territory : 10,000 hectares for $100million. The very effective agricultural land in the nation. This has gone out of land worth nothing, which he won in a tennis game, to that!

“Great for them, good for the creatures — because nobody shoots them, and they’ve more space to ramble. Beneficial to the regional people, because eco tourism creates a lot more tasks than the usual cattle ranch. Everybody else gains with eco tourism. It is possible to conduct a huge cattle ranch with 20 men, yet to conduct a safari lodge, you need 55 visitors to complete it correctly, and women in addition to men, and that means you can get families working . ”

Oncafari Project – Caiman Eco Lodge in Pantanal, Brazil

Oncafari Project — Caiman Eco Lodge in Pantanal, Brazil

Photo by: Charles Bradley

Brazil’s jaguars will be the same of South African leopards, albeit larger and sturdier. And eco tourism was faced with exactly the exact same problem of people eager to pay for to see them, but the cats being overly fearful to be seen.

The answer? Repeat what happened in Africa, get the skittish jaguars used into the nearby company of cars then when they’ve cubs, create it normal for cars to be around them.

“And, needless to say, the jaguar always conducted off. This past year, we had over 700 sightings. Plus some of them were for over an hour.

“a year ago, 95 per cent of our customers saw at one jaguar after staying here for three to four days. This year, it’s been just about 100 per cent.

Oncafari Project – wild jaguar wearing GPS collar

Oncafari Project — uncontrolled jaguar sporting GPS collar

“These jaguars have been seeing our cars since they were born, they don’t care that they ’re don’t even care which there& & rsquo;s people walked inside. Or they look at you as you’r e a shrub or some thing! Escape the car, theyrsquo;d run out to get certain — which is also excellent, because we don’t even need them getting used for people. That Creates a new issue …

“Through eco tourism, we’re trying to save the jaguar. It’s what everybody wishes to see, however remember the jaguar is on the top of the food chain. So to save this, you also need to save what’so underneath, the whole biome, the woods, all.

“We do some scientific research too, however that I ’m not really a scientist, so I don’t wait 10 years to compose a paper that will get published in Oxford or Cambridge — should I find something, I put it around Facebook! So we recorded some of these jaguars and put radio collars so we can better understand their lives. ”

Oncafari’s greatest achievement story…

Oncafari Project

Oncafari Project

Photo by: Oncafari Project

Oncafari Project

Oncafari Project

Photo by: Charles Bradley

Just How did Haberfeld’s group come to the attention of the BBC and Sir David Attenborough? At an world-first, Haberfeld and his team was able to reintroduce two orphaned cubs in to the wild — and, including being forced to virtually kidnap them out of a zoo, — were able to pull one of their very audacious re-habituation programs of all time.

2 decades before, in a town on the banks of the Paraguay river, there clearly was a flash flood. The rain was so severe that it forced a lady jaguar with young cubs to put in a nearby town on higher ground to flee.

Haberfeld uses up the narrative : “a lady awakened to find three jaguars in her yard, therefore they all climbed a tree. She called the fire brigade, along with the ideal thing to do would be leave them until the night time, then they’d scale down and run off.

“However, the firemen felt pressure to do something, so they really got a vet to dart it but the vet hadn’t any hint about drugging jaguars. You need to be aware of the dosage of these medication, for the ideal weight of their jaguar, and you must watch for the medication to workout.

“The vet shot the mother jaguar seven days. Finally, the jaguar fell from the tree, and it neglected the net the fireman had, and it fell in to the water. The mother died.

“Then they got the cubs down safely and mailed them to some zoo. We learned about it, but were told us couldn’t reintroduce them into the wild, because the cubs learn far in their mommy, and it’s never been done successfully before. I mentioned, when I started this project, ” I was told that I was crazy and couldn’t even doit. So why not that?

“It required six months, I’d to keep in touch with the president, the governors, there was much politics. In the long run, it exercised. We found themhellip; We practically had to kidnap them out of the zoo. The nation governor was impeached, and so the overnight we only went there — we had authorizations but they didn’t even wish to understand, therefore we took our chance! ”

And the hard work really began…

Mario Haberfeld, Oncafari Project

Oncafari Project

Oncafari Project

&ldquoWe built a 10,000 square meter enclosure at which we work, natural and organic — only set a fence around,” he states. “We all brought them all there. Now we had to teach them how to seek out. A very similar project had some success, however after a month the jaguars they re introduced started looking to visitors to provide them food. So that didn’t even work.

&ldquoWe knew we had to achieve this technique without any human touch, without us. We used lots of cameras, to watch them.

“They had 12 months of this method, at which we allowed them to learn to hunt wild prey. And then we released them in the wild. They could return back to the enclosure, we abandoned the doors open and to start using they travelled back a whole great deal. But they realised the foundation of food that was simple had stopped, therefore they really had to go in order to find it.

Mario Haberfeld, Oncafari Project – showing where the orphaned jaguars were released back into the wild from their enclosure

Mario Haberfeld, Oncafari Project — revealing where the orphaned jaguars were released back in to the wild from their enclosure

Photo by: Charles Bradley

“One was very successful, searched a peccary [a sizeable wild pig] after only a single week, which is perhaps one of the toughest things for them to kill. The more sturdy hunter within the enclosure fought alot initially. It was hunting egrets [a skinny bird], perhaps maybe not really big enough to get a jaguar to survive. As we were getting very stressed, it searched out a caiman [a little alligator]. Plus they’ve been fine since. They have their own land — and now they are the jaguars we see that exactly the maximum. Despite the fact that we failed to deliberately habituate them, they can go anywhere.

“They’ve GPS collars, as a portion of this authorization, and they’ve been published for over a couple of decades now. ”

Racing’so loss has been undoubtedly conservation’s profit. And with seen Mario’s performance hand, I will absolutely vouch that his new vocation deserves all the support it will get — I saw three unique jaguars during my four-day stay, including one of the now-fully-grown orphans!

Oncafari is now in the Amazon, together with another two cubs in a similar position, also now there ’s a Go-Fund-Me page that supports the recognized reintroduction system. For more details, take a look at their website oncafari.



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