Creative Commons: Atthapol Saita

Jaguar conservation goes global

The 2018 Conference of the Parties (COP) of the Convention on Biological Diversity brought exciting news for the jaguar: 14 jaguar range countries have united with leading international conservation organizations to execute a 2030 Jaguar Conservation Roadmap for the Americas. The initiative, unprecedented in breadth and scope, lays out the plan to strengthen the Jaguar Corridor, ranging from Mexico to Argentina, by securing 30 priority jaguar conservation landscapes by the year 2030. The roadmap details measures for strengthening international cooperation and awareness for jaguar protection initiatives that mitigate human-jaguar conflict, connect and protect jaguar habitats, and stimulate sustainable development opportunities, such as eco-tourism, to promote and support the healthy coexistence of communities and indigenous peoples with this species.

The jaguar is the largest cat and apex carnivore in Latin America, ranging across 18 countries. The species is critical to the structure and function of ecosystems in which they live. As the top predators in their environment, they help control the populations of other species, keeping a balance in the food chain Yet, over time, the species’ range has shrunk by fifty percent, due to habitat loss and fragmentation. Jaguar populations continue to decline due to illegal poaching and other human conflict. They have already disappeared from El Salvador and Uruguay and are now listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The plan specifically emphasizes the importance of incorporating jaguar conservation in sustainable development plans, stating that “energy and transportation infrastructure development should aim for no net loss in biodiversity, with jaguars an excellent metric for success of forest and wildlife conservation at large scales.” 

At the convention, conservation organizations including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) also announced the first ever International Jaguar Day. Celebrated annually on November 28, the day will raise awareness about threats facing the jaguar and conservation efforts committed to its survival.

The roadmap serves as a foundation, allowing and encouraging each individual country to build upon it, to coordinate with other countries, and to innovate and accomplish jaguar and biodiversity conservation at never-before-seen levels. 

Designating an International Jaguar Day empowers governments and communities to be creative in recognizing the jaguar as a species central to a healthy ecosystem, and uniting its conservation with sustainable development goals, for a prosperous future for both jaguars and people.