Efforts to protect endangered Mexican jaguars are moving forward. In Mexico, the WWF-Telcel, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the federal government’s National Commission of Protected Areas (Conanp) have banded together to strategize ways to safeguard the survival of an emblematic big cat.
Alejandro del Mazo, Conanp chief, terms jaguar protection a government priority and part of an international policy. The Jaguar conservation alliance has identified several actions toward these ends, including the creation of five biological corridors consisting of more than 10 million acres. According to alliance spokespersons, future corridors will have the added benefit of protecting biological diversity, forests and water resources.
Mexico’s last jaguar census, conducted between 2009 and 2010, counted 4,000 animals across the country. Jaguars are found in different regions extending from the northern border states of Sonora and Tamaulipas to Chiapas and the Yucatan Peninsula in the south of the nation.
Gerardo Ceballos, jaguar researcher for UNAM’s Ecology Institute, said in a Mexico City press conference this past week that poaching and habitat loss remain the greatest threats to the survival of Mexican jaguars.
Although insurance is available to compensate livestock raisers for jaguar kills, some ranchers insist on physically eliminating the predatory cats as a quick fix to their herd losses, Ceballos said.
Sonora is believed to be the place of geographic origin for several male jaguars that have been spotted in the southern reaches of New Mexico and Arizona in recent years.
In the United States, jaguar protection remains a contentious issue.
Last month, three non-governmental organizations filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque to toss out the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2014 designation of 170 square miles in New Mexico as critical jaguar habitat. Claiming the set aside was “unlawful, arbitrary and capricious,” the plaintiffs include the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau, the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association and the New Mexico Federal Lands Council.
On a regional basis, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated 1200 square miles of land along the U.S.-Mexico border as critical habitat for the endangered jaguar.
Sources: La Jornada, June 18, 2015. Albuquerque Journal/Associated Press, May 22, 2015. Article by Russell Contreras.