The search for a jaguar and her cub is underway in Chilpancingo, Guerrero, after the pair of felines was seen last weekend in neighborhoods near the capital city’s southern borders.
“We received a complaint about the sighting of a possible black feline prowling around a neighborhood in the south of Chilpancingo which is presumed to be a jaguar with its young, according to the stories and descriptions by neighbors,” Guerrero’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semaren) posted to Twitter on Sunday.
Firefighters, staff from Guerrero’s Environmental Protection Agency and the Attorney General’s Office and workers from the Zoochilpan zoo have joined in the search.
Feline expert Fernando Ruiz said that special cameras and drones are being employed to locate the jaguars. The search team’s goal is to capture and relocate them elsewhere to keep them safe from hunters or poachers. The mother and cub have already killed and eaten several goats and dogs.
Jaguars, which typically are yellow with black spots, are exclusively meat-eaters and can weigh up to 100 kilos. There are more than 4,000 living in Mexico, and they can be found in Sinaloa, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosí, Querétaro, Hidalgo, Puebla, Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacán, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tabasco, Yucatán, Campeche and Quintana Roo.
Jaguars are frequently targeted by poachers for their body parts, which are sold on the black market in China. Last year the body of a jaguar was found in the Lacandona Jungle in Chiapas with only its penis removed.
“There has been trafficking in Mexico for many years. We’ve seen decades of trafficking in products such as the pelts, teeth and claws for use in handicrafts. What has happened recently with the entrance of the Chinese market is the [removal of this] delicate part, because they want the jaguar’s penis as an aphrodisiac,” Heliot Zarza of the National Jaguar Conservation Alliance said at a symposium on Mexico’s at-risk animals in January.
Ranchers also kill jaguars to prevent them from attacking livestock.
At least seven jaguars were killed in Guerrero last year, and the state’s population is estimated at just 120 cats, all of which are highly endangered.
The mother and cub were caught on camera on Tuesday, government officials said.