Born to Perform: Conserving the Jaguar in the Amazon

Nov 27, 2016 05:46 AM EST

The central Amazon Jaguar Conservation Unit is the biggest jaguar stronghold in the world, but even here, biological diversity and jaguar populations can fluctuate. The Wildlife Conservation Society has recently presented a plan to help guide multi-institutional efforts in conserving the jaguar in the Amazon basin.

Encompassing Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, French Guiana, and Suriname, the central Amazon Jaguar Conservation Unit has already been affected by the conversion to monoculture crops, cattle ranching, and hydro-electric, mining, and transportation projects. Because of this, several leading Latin American conservation organizations working in the Amazon basin recently met in Quito, Ecuador to review regional jaguar conservation efforts and outline priorities to maintain healthy jaguar populations in the Amazon.

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The Memorias Del Taller Internacional Planificando La Conservación Del Jaguar En La Amazonía was formulated to ensure sustainable development for local communities along with a secure future that includes the iconic jaguar.

"The main recommendations to come out of the meeting were related to the importance of working at large landscape scales to conserve meaningful populations of jaguars," said Dr. Rob Wallace, Amazon landscape conservation expert at the Wildlife Conservation Society. "This landscape approach requires an integrated threats-based strategy involving a series of long-term partnerships with territorial stakeholders such as protected areas, indigenous territories, municipal governments and others. The Wildlife Conservation Society is proud of our long-standing conservation commitments to some of the most outstanding natural wilderness areas in the Amazon."

Five central themes were agreed upon to secure the long-term future of jaguars: landscape and corridor scale conservation, research and monitoring, conflict management, legislation, policy and administration, as well as education, training, and communication.

The document also highlights the emerging threat of hunting and illegal trade of jaguars in the Amazon and beyond. Conservation is an ongoing process and decisive action is needed to address new threats. Jaguar hunting for trade has intensified in recent years since its teeth and other body parts are in demand in Asian markets.

Dr. Emiliano Esterci Ramalho, monitoring coordinator at the Mamiraua Sustainable Development Institute and a groundbreaking jaguar researcher in the flooded forests of central Amazonian Brazil, underlined the importance of collective conservation efforts. "This meeting encouraged us to create the Jaguar Conservation Alliance in Brazil, a multi-institutional initiative that aims to coordinate jaguar research and conservation efforts in the Amazon, and to ensure that our collective efforts amount to more than just the sum of their parts," Ramalho said.

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