Biologists and conservationists working to protect the jaguar in the Yucatan Peninsula, a refuge for half of the 4,000 that still survive in Mexico, may soon see their efforts bolstered through a new alliance between the Federal Government and Panthera. Senators on Mexico’s Foreign Relations Committee have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Panthera, an organization dedicated to the conservation of wild cats worldwide, taking a significant step forward to boost jaguar protection.

Despite being the symbol of the natural and cultural heritage of Mexico, the range of the jaguar has been reduced by over 50%. The jaguar is currently in danger of extinction due to habitat destruction, poaching and declining populations of the creatures it preys on such as deer, peccary and agouti.

The Mexican government and Panthera will develop a work plan to complement existing jaguar conservation activities in the country, with Panthera pledging to implement those that are currently employed in 13 Latin American countries as part of its Jaguar Corridor Initiative (JCI).

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 also 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.

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.”

Since 2008, Panthera has been involved in jaguar research projects south of the Sierra Madre Oriental, in Sinaloa, the Lacandon Forest in Chiapas and the Sonora-Jalisco corridor.

The creation of wildlife corridors linking biosphere reserves, parks and private reserves through which jaguars may move freely in search of their prey and that also help protect the gene pool and prevent inbreeding, has long been a goal of experts and conservation groups across the Yucatan Peninsula, and it is to be hoped that they will be able to join forces with Panthera in years to come.