Conservation measures to protect the jaguar have led to a slight increase in the animal’s numbers, the head of a federal agency said this week.
Natural Protected Areas Commission chief Alejandro del Mazo Maza also announced the creation of a new tri-national protected area in partnership with Guatemala and Belize.
The commissioner told the newspaper El Universal that jaguar conservation policies enacted by the Mexican government have been successful, citing a 10% increase in the Yucatán peninsula region alone, where the population is estimated to have grown from 1,850 to 2,000.
Del Mazo said that with an estimated 4,000 specimens in the wild, Mexico has the second largest population of jaguars in the world, second only to Brazil.
Conservation policies have included stricter penalties for poachers, who now face up to nine years in prison if caught trading or hunting the felines, considered an endangered species by Mexico.
Efforts to protect the jaguars have also included the creation in 2016 of two biosphere reserves, one in the Tamaulipas sierra and the other in Quintana Roo, along with a natural protected area at Sierra de Ajos-Bavispe in Sonora.
All three are known to have wild jaguar populations.
Del Mazo presented the data on jaguar conservation during the Jaguar 2030 High Level Forum in New York City, where he also announced Mexico’s intention to create a tri-national natural protected area along with the governments of Belize and Guatemala.
On the Mexican side, the protected area would include rainforests in the states of Yucatán, Quintana Roo, Campeche and Chiapas.
While the jaguar’s original range extended from the southwestern United States to Paraguay and northern Argentina, human activity has severely reduced its habitat.
The jaguar is the third largest cat species in the world, after the lion and the tiger. In America, it reigns supreme among felines but with its numbers consistently declining, it is considered a near-threatened species by international organizations.
Source: El Universal (sp)