Mexico’s wild jaguar population has increased by 20% over the past eight years, according to a new study released yesterday.
The Second National Jaguar Census 2016-2018 found that there are now 4,800 wild jaguars in the country, compared to 4,000 reported in 2010.
News of the growing population is especially significant considering that jaguar numbers have been on the decline in recent years.
The study was carried out by researchers from 16 institutions and 25 academic groups using 396 remotely activated cameras which are triggered by sensors that detect the animals’ movements.
The president of the National Alliance for Jaguar Conservation, Gerardo Ceballos, presented the results of the census at the International Symposium on Ecology and Conservation of the Jaguar in Cancún, Quintana Roo.
Ceballos said the aim of conservation efforts “is to have 7,000 or 8,000 jaguars throughout the country” in the near future.
“. . . If we continue with the conservation actions of recent years, I estimate that we will achieve it in the next three or four years. By doing that, we’ll remove the jaguar from the list of animals in danger of extinction . . .” he said.
He explained that the increase in the jaguar population was due to conservation work completed by the Jaguar Alliance, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Telmex Telcel Foundation, whose technology has played a crucial role in monitoring the jaguar.
Sergio Patgher, a Telcel brand manager, said the foundation has provided funds to purchase camera traps and has assisted researchers with the technology to remotely monitor the jaguars and their movements.
WWF Project Coordinator María José Villanueva said the main threats to jaguars in Mexico are habitat destruction, illegal hunting, wildlife trade and conflict with livestock farmers.
She and Ceballos agreed that jaguar conservation should be included in the government’s overall environmental strategy, ensuring that their protection is guaranteed beyond each six-year presidential term.
Both conservationists also said the private sector and citizens’ groups should be included in the efforts to protect the species.
Alejandro del Mazo, who heads up the government’s Natural Protected Areas Commission (Conanp), said in March that Mexico will seek to create a trinational natural protected area for the jaguar in the southern jungle region that extends into Guatemala and Belize.
The project would add to a system of interconnected wildlife corridors known as the “Paseo del Jaguar” (Path of the Jaguar), which is already in place and extends through several countries in the Americas.
In Mexico, jaguars live in the states of Yucatán, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Colima, Sinaloa, Sonora y San Luis Potosí.
There are around 64,000 jaguars left in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which has declared the mammal a “near-threatened” species.
The yellow, black-spotted cats are found in 18 countries across the Americas but an estimated 90% live in the Amazon rainforest.