Animals: They were here first
For centuries, the legendary jaguar has held its position at the top of the food chain in its realm from Mexico to Argentina. All cats hold a certain mystique, but jaguars dominate the stories told among natives - its power, size, and seeming ability to disappear and reappear suddenly, taking on other forms, has given this majestic cat supernatural status. But even scientists, who don’t subscribe to otherworldly views, concur that the jaguar is indeed an animal that lives above the rest, so to speak, in its ability to thrive in conditions that would have destroyed a lesser species.
Often times, those that have developed a reputation as tenacious survivors, are taken for granted and overlooked when it comes to any need for help from outside sources. But even the kingly jaguar has reached a breaking point.
Thankfully, there’s an organization called Panthera, that is providing a way for the jaguar to survive. Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative is forging a path, both figuratively and geographically, to ensure that this cat will continue to spark our imaginations and inspire stories of supernatural feats.
Here is how they are building this corridor:
Jaguars, like many large, free-ranging wildlife species, are not constrained by political boundaries, nor are they as challenged or constrained by physical ones. Jaguars use and require protected areas, where their core populations can thrive.
But they move beyond protected areas, through landscapes, across rivers, over hills and mountain passes and even through areas with human development, searching for food, space to live, and security, and, ultimately, to survive and breed, passing their genes into the future.
A jaguar corridor is a cattle ranch, a citrus plantation, someone’s backyard – a place where jaguars can pass through safely and unharmed.
Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative seeks to realize this vision of linking core jaguar populations within the human landscape from northern Argentina to Mexico, preserving their genetic integrity so jaguars can live in the wild forever. Through multilateral partnerships, government support, and local buy-in, Panthera is the driving force behind this unique initiative, ensuring safe passage for the majestic and mysterious jaguar across its entire range.
Saving jaguars range-wide is a winning strategy for conserving vast landscapes and ecosystem functions, and preserving human health and livelihoods. While Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative is streamlined and focused on jaguars, the impacts go far beyond.
The jaguar is the largest and most iconic cat in the Western Hemisphere. Human societies and cultures across the region have evolved for centuries with the jaguar, a charismatic species that has inspired rich myths and legends, and today serves as a national symbol for several Latin American countries.
But while people continue to be awed and intrigued by the jaguar, many live in fear and are intolerant of this large and wild cat, especially as forest cover is depleted, forcing jaguars to be in closer contact with humans. While the jaguar remains the top predator in the region, serves as a sign of healthy ecosystems, and exists in fair numbers in some areas, it is by no means out of harm’s way.
The jaguar is currently threatened throughout its range because of three main reasons:
• Dramatic habitat loss and fragmentation from the conversion of wild lands to agriculture and other development – jaguars run the risk of being confined to isolated patches, increasing the risk of extinction;
• Direct hunting by people, such as ranchers, who view jaguars as a threat to their livelihoods;
• Lack of natural prey, like deer and wild pigs, from overhunting by humans and habitat loss, forcing jaguars to prey on domestic animals, fueling conflict.
These threats jeopardize the jaguar’s long-term future, and are a recipe for disaster not just for this species, but for entire ecosystems.
Despite the decimation of numerous jaguar populations and the loss of half of the jaguar’s habitat within its range, new science indicates that with urgent and strategic action, this species can not only endure, but thrive.
Our first step is a map-based model of the jaguar’s ecological needs throughout its range. Then, a “tool box” of activities unfolds, from "ground truthing" corridors so we can verify where jaguars are and where they are moving through, to managing and conserving jaguar prey species, helping ranchers with livestock husbandry improvements, working with local communities to alleviate conflict, and assisting governments with protected area management.
Please click here to learn more about the Key Activities of the Jaguar Corridor Initiative.
Panthera works in 13 of the 18 jaguar range states. Click here to read more about the work Panthera is doing in these countries.
Read Panthera's Jaguar Report Card: The State of the Jaguar.
Read Panthera's: Jaguar Corridor Initiative Brochure