Guyana pledges to protect jaguars (Update)

January 24, 2013 by David Mcfadden
In this photo released by the New York-based conservation group Panthera, a male jaguar is photographed by a camera trap on Karanambu Ranch, in the Rupununi region of Guyana, in 2011. The lushly forested nation of Guyana on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013 joined a regional pact to protect jaguars, the elusive spotted cat that is the biggest land predator in the Americas but is vulnerable due to expanded agriculture and mining that carves away at their fragmented habitat. (AP Photo/Panthera)

The lushly forested nation of Guyana on Thursday joined a regional pact to protect jaguars, the elusive spotted cat that is the biggest land predator in the Americas but is vulnerable due to expanded agriculture and mining that carves away at their fragmented habitat.

Leaders of the government's environment ministry were signing an agreement with the New York-based conservation group Panthera, which is trying to establish a "jaguar corridor," a network of pathways that would link core jaguar populations from northern Argentina to Mexico. Guyana is pledging to ensure the protection of jaguars, the national animal that is a near-threatened species.

The South American nation with some of the region's least spoiled wilderness joins Colombia and nations in Central America in recognizing the corridor and agreeing to work towards the long-term conservation of jaguars, according to Esteban Payan, regional director for Panthera's northern South America jaguar program.

A network of cameras equipped with motion sensors and fixed to tree trunks has revealed tantalizing glimpses of sleek, solitary jaguars slinking through Guyana's dense rain forests and vast grasslands stretching to the country's border with Brazil.

In this photo released by the New York-based conservation group Panthera, a jaguar is photographed by a camera trap on Karanambu Ranch, in the Rupununi Region of Guyana in 2011. The lushly forested nation of Guyana on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013 joined a regional pact to protect jaguars, the elusive spotted cat that is the biggest land predator in the Americas but is vulnerable due to expanded agriculture and mining that carves away at their fragmented habitat. (AP Photo/Panthera)

Scientists reported finding a relatively healthy jaguar density of three to four animals per 100 kilometers (161 miles) in Guyana's southern Rupununi Savannah. That means that preserving grasslands are as important to conservation of jaguars as protecting the dense rain forests, they say.

Jaguars once roamed widely from the southwestern United States to Argentina, but have lost nearly half of their natural territory and have disappeared altogether from some countries. Heavy hunting for their spotted coats decimated their numbers in the 1960s and early 1970s until the pelt trade was largely halted. No one has any reliable estimates of how many jaguars are left in the wild, where they prey on peccaries, tapirs and, since they are powerful swimmers, river turtles.

Guyana, a country roughly the size of the U.S. state of Idaho where most of the roughly 756,000 inhabitants live along its Atlantic coastline, has been widely recognized for balancing progress with. In 2009, it began a low-carbon push aimed at maintaining very low rates of deforestation and combating climate change, while also promoting economic development. It could receive up to $250 million from Norway by 2015 as an incentive to protect its forests through sustainable mining, timber harvesting and other projects.

Alan Rabinowitz, Panthera's CEO and a zoologist whose research in Belize in the 1980s led to the creation of the world's first jaguar preserve, said Guyana's signing of the jaguar agreement "demonstrates the government's continued commitment to its legacy of conservation alongside economic progress and diversification."

Explore further: U.S. opts out of jaguar recovery plan

More information: Panthera's web site: www.panthera.org/

0 shares

Related Stories

Big cats, wild pigs and short-eared dogs -- oh, my!

January 27, 2009

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) released photos today from the first large-scale census of jaguars in the Amazon region of Ecuador—one of the most biologically rich regions on the planet.

Jungle cats caught on camera in Belize

May 17, 2012

A camera trap survey, set up by scientists from Ya’axché Conservation Trust, has caught pictures of Central America’s two big cats: the jaguar and the puma (known locally as the red tiger).

Recommended for you

Genomes uncover life's early history

August 24, 2015

A University of Manchester scientist is part of a team which has carried out one of the biggest ever analyses of genomes on life of all forms.

Rare nautilus sighted for the first time in three decades

August 25, 2015

In early August, biologist Peter Ward returned from the South Pacific with news that he encountered an old friend, one he hadn't seen in over three decades. The University of Washington professor had seen what he considers ...

Why a mutant rice called Big Grain1 yields such big grains

August 24, 2015

(Phys.org)—Rice is one of the most important staple crops grown by humans—very possibly the most important in history. With 4.3 billion inhabitants, Asia is home to 60 percent of the world's population, so it's unsurprising ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.