Not too many people can claim to have seen a Jaguar in the wild, but with the guidance of a reputable wildlife tour company, it's become a lot easier to make that dream come true. Specialised Jaguar tours to the Brazilian Pantanal region can offer multiple sightings and a valuable insight into their fascinating, secretive behaviour. |
Like too much of the world's wildlife, unfortunately this big cat comes under a 'near-threatened' status. This means that, while not at a critical level, numbers are in decline, primarily due to loss of habitat and human intervention. There are a number of high-profile conservation projects aimed at protecting the future of these beautiful creatures, but there's only one that's committed to conserving every one within the entire six million square kilometre range of Central and South America – country by country.
The Important Work of Panthera
In 2006, esteemed wildlife expert Dr. Thomas Kaplan established the organisation Panthera specifically to ensure the preservation of the Earth's felid species, whose ranges encompass over a third its surface. Panthera works closely with local communities and governments to develop and implement a wide range of initiatives, which are tailored to conserving the most vulnerable wild cats around the world and their habitats. Their programmes and initiatives include:
• Project Pardus • Tigers Forever • Project Leonardo • Save the Tiger Fund • Snow Leopard Program • Puma Program • Cheetah Program • Jaguar Corridor Initiative
The Jaguar Corridor Initiative
Headed by renowned wildlife expert and CEO of Panthera, Dr Alan Rabinowitz, the organisation's sustained efforts in this initiative have been specifically focused on protecting the genetic integrity of the big cat, by taking a holistic approach to its conservation.
Scientists and researchers are mapping the behaviours, movements and territories of core populations of over the entire range, from Argentina up to Mexico. From analysis of the data collected, Panthera works in partnership with governments, ranchers, and corporations to ensure the establishment of ecologically and economically sustainable developments, which enable the safe passage of wildlife through these 'corridors'.
The initiative is helping to reduce the threat to the big cats from ranchers looking to protect their investment by helping them build effective enclosures to protect their livestock. In addition to this, the teams educate local communities on the effects of hunting the animal's smaller prey species, which can lead to them turning to domesticated livestock as a food source.
A Successful Model Looking to the Future
From its implementation in the world's first and only dedicated Jaguar preserve (with the highest population density anywhere in the world), which was established in 1986 in the Cockscomb Basin, in Belize, today the initiative has successfully achieved or supported the signing of agreements from the governments of 14 of the 18 countries within the big cat's range, including Panama, Guyana, Costa Rica, Honduras, Colombia and Brazil – whose richly bio-diverse Pantanal region is very popular for Jaguar tours.
Through the use of camera traps and extensive fieldwork, Panthera has been able to collect vital data that not only provides a fascinating insight into the secret lives of these magnificent animals, but also assists in the conservation of their habitat.
While human intervention has been part of the problem that threatens the future of the big cat, it's now lending itself to become a part of the solution. As well as initiatives from conservation organisations, companies that facilitate responsible tourism through dedicated Jaguar tours are helping to raise awareness and promote global education on the issues that concern the animal's continued preservation.
Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer with a special interest in Jaguar watching. Being passionate about her subject, Marissa chooses the expert-led Jaguar tours organised by Naturetrek, which have brought her unforgettable sightings of a wide range of wildlife in some of the most spectacular regions on Earth.
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