Camera traps are a great way to observe wildlife species that would normally avoid humans -or hurt them. An infrared sensor trips the camera, so moving animals are captured in digital imagery with no human interaction required. But it's still a waiting game, and wildlife biologists have learned some tricks to get those animals to pose for the camera. In the case of jaguars, a dab of perfume helps. According to biologist Miguel Ordeñana, the big cats are particularly attracted to Calvin Klein Obsession for Men.
What’s so special about this particular scent mixture? “It has civetone and it has vanilla extract,” he says. Civetone is a chemical compound derived from the scent glands of civets, smallish nocturnal cats native to the Asian and African tropics, and it’s one of the world’s oldest perfume ingredients. “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,” he explained to me. And the vanilla might set off the cats’ curiosity response. No matter which compound is responsible for jaguars’ interest – or both – the key is that the scent gets them to stick around long enough to activate the camera’s shutter.