Guyana and U.S. Team Up to Protect Jaguars
Jaguars have some new champions. The forested nation of Guyana announced that they're joining a regional pact to protect the elusive spotted cats, the largest land predators in the Americas. Leaders of the government's environment ministry signed an agreement with the New York-based conversation group Panthera.
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Jaguars have been disappearing from the forests as agriculture expands and as mining carves away their fragmented habitat. Because of this, Panthera hopes to create a "jaguar corridor" which connects core jaguar populations from northern Argentina to Mexico. These corridors are pathways constructed over or under roads, or sections of forestland that can be used by animals to move across a country without venturing into human-inhabited areas. It can help promote the gene flow between populations of animals, and can also give migrating animals the opportunity to avoid hazards such as traffic. Since the jaguar is a near-threatened species, these corridors are an important way to help preserve the population.
Guyana isn't the only country to lend its support, though. The South American nation is joining Colombia and other nations in Central America by recognizing the corridor and agreeing to work toward the long-term conservation of jaguars.
Since Guyana has some of South America's least spoiled wilderness, it also hosts quite a few of these large cats. A network of cameras equipped with motion sensors and fixed to tree trunks has given scientists glimpses of jaguars living in Guyana's rainforests. Currently, scientists estimate that there is a relatively healthy jaguar population in the country--about three to four animals per 161 miles in Guyana's southern Rupununi Savannah.
Guyana has been widely recognized for balancing progress with the preservation of its natural resources. In 2009, it began an environmental push to maintain low rates of deforestation and to combat climate change.
With these new supporters, it's possible that the jaguar population that ranges between South and Central America will be able to thrive.