New York, NY – Several Senators from Mexico and Panthera, an organization dedicated to the conservation of wild cats worldwide, achieved a significant step toward jaguar protection last week.
In Mexico City, Senator Gabriela Cuevas, President of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Mexican Senate, led the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Panthera's Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz.
As part of the agreement, Panthera expressed its desire to work with the Senate, academia, and non-governmental organizations in Mexico with the aim of raising awareness about the importance of conserving jaguars and assisting in the implementation of science-based conservation actions, which will be framed by Mexico's official recovery plan for the species, or the Action Plan for the Conservation of Species (PACE).
Although the jaguar is a symbol of the natural and cultural heritage of Mexico, their range has been reduced by over 50%. The jaguar is currently in danger of extinction due to habitat destruction, poaching and declining prey.
A priority initiative is to confirm the current distribution of the jaguar, the areas of connectivity between populations within Mexico, and the trans-boundary jaguar populations of Guatemala and Belize.
Activities will focus on developing environmentally sustainable and economically viable tools that help people who share these environments mitigate human-jaguar conflict, which is one of the main threats to the jaguar's survival.
The activities will be conducted through collaboration and recruitment of Mexican biologists who work in coordination with agencies such as the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) and the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA), among others.
During last week's signing, Senator Cuevas said, "The jaguar is a symbol of the culture and history of Mexico. It is the most representative American feline and is emblematic of biodiversity and conservation of species." She continued, "Rarely are such diverse causes intertwined with so many issues, ranging from foreign affairs and protection of the environment, to climate change, education and agriculture."
Panthera's CEO Dr. Alan Rabinowitz said, "We are thrilled to join forces with the Senate and to contribute to the protection and conservation of the jaguar and the corridors between their populations in Mexico."
Dr. Rabinowitz continued, "Mexico is the northern border for the distribution of jaguars and maintaining connectivity between populations of jaguars is vital for the survival of the jaguar and the biodiversity that lives within these areas. Today's Memorandum represents a new stage in jaguar conservation and an important alliance between Panthera and Senators from Mexico. We hope to collaborate with Mexican biologists, legislators, academics, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations dedicated to conservation, and to complement and enhance their efforts to promote the protection of this majestic feline."
Jaguar range currently includes 18 countries in Latin America, from Mexico through Central and South America to Argentina, and occasionally in the United States. Panthera's Jaguar Corridor Initiative (JCI) comprises nearly six million square kilometers through a mosaic of environments within these countries.
The JCI seeks to connect and protect jaguar populations, especially those that live and move through landscapes dominated by humans, helping to maintain genetic diversity and thus increase the long-term survival of this species.
Since 2008, Panthera has supported research in Mexico to determine the presence of the jaguar in the corridors south of the Sierra Madre Oriental, in Sinaloa and in the jungles of the Lacandon. Panthera is continuing its partnership with the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro, mapping jaguar habitat use in the Sonora-Jalisco Corridor and contributing to the conservation strategy for the corridor.
Panthera researchers are exploring possibilities to establish a long-term study in the states of Guerrero, Michoacan and Colima, in order to have a more precise understanding of the distribution of jaguars and their prey. Last week's signing represents Panthera's eighth jaguar conservation agreement with Latin American countries.Original article