Two reports have come out signaling danger for two species of wildlife, one of which is found only in Mexico.
International experts have confirmed that fewer than 30 vaquita porpoises remain, a figure that surfaced as a rough estimate in December. The small porpoise native to the upper Sea of Cortez and found nowhere else in the world has been dwindling in numbers for years, in spite of a billion-peso, two-year federal rescue program launched in April 2015.
The federal government and international experts have now devised a plan to capture the remaining vaquitas, keep them in captivity for their protection and hope they breed.
The World Wildlife Fund, which opposes the measure, yesterday urged that authorities ban fishing completely in the vaquitas’ habitat and stop the shipment of totoaba, another endangered species, across the border to the United States, from where it is sent to Asia.
The WWF’s demands followed an announcement by the head of Semarnat, the environment secretariat, that lifting the ban on the use of gillnets in the upper Sea of Cortez will be analyzed.
The vaquita is disappearing because it is bycatch in the nets of fishermen going after the totoaba, whose swim bladders fetch a high price in China, and shrimp.
The other species at risk is the jaguar, according to the results of a study by the National Autonomous University of Mexico. It estimates that only 64,000 remain and that of 34 population groups only one is strong enough to be deemed safe.
That one group has 90% of the jaguar population — some 57,000 animals — and is found in the Amazon region in the countries of Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.
Of the remaining 7,000 jaguars, fewer than 4,000 are in Mexico, where an estimated 40% of the population has been lost. They are now found principally in isolated regions with limited access.
In Sonora and Sinaloa there are an estimated 400 while on the Pacific coast there are some 300 in Nayarit, Jalisco and Colima and another 650 from Michoacán down to Chiapas.
Stronger population levels — an estimated 1,800 in total — are found in Yucatán, Oaxaca and Chiapas.