The future of the jaguar in Belize is looking brighter following the signing of a conservation agreement between the Government of Belize, the Environmental Research Institute of the University of Belize and the wild cat conservation organization Panthera.
It’s estimated that only about 15,000 jaguars remain in the wild today. As long as the forests of the Americas are cut for timber and agriculture, the jaguar remains threatened.
The trio agreed to work together to implement science-based conservation initiatives that secure and connect jaguars and their habitats in Belize and beyond, facilitate land development that is both ecologically sustainable and economically profitable, and lesson human-jaguar conflict throughout the country.
The jaguar is the third-largest feline after the tiger and the lion, and the largest in the Western Hemisphere. Its decreasing population is primarily due to deforestation rates, human persecution and human-jaguar conflict, and is considered Near Threatened by the IUCN who now estimates it occupies just 46 per cent of its historic range.
Situated on the southern tip of Mexico and eastern border of Guatemala, Belize serves as an integral link connecting jaguars within these countries and all jaguar populations south of Belize.
Panthera CEO and jaguar scientist, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, explained, “The signing of this historic agreement epitomizes conservation action & partnerships coming full circle.. This MOU now represents Panthera’s sixth jaguar conservation agreement with a Latin American government, and our team will continue to work, country by country, to build partnerships with all nations home to the jaguar, connecting and protecting the entire 18 nation mosaic that is the jaguar’s range.”
The mighty jaguar once roamed from Argentina in South America all the way up to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Today, jaguars have been almost completely eliminated from the United States and are endangered throughout their range, which stretches down to Patagonia in South America. The jaguar makes its home in a wide-variety of habitats including deciduous forests, rainforests, swamps, pampas grasslands and mountain scrub areas.