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November 2012 Mexico Hub Rare encounters of Jaguars at Pez Maya, marine conservation base

One of the most important global environmental problems is species extinction, caused by a chaotic growth of anthropogenic activities (Chvez & Ceballos 2006). Jaguars (Panthera onca) have been practically eliminated from Mexican territory because of the destruction of their habitat. In spite of this, they are still found in remote areas where development is minimal, and even in areas near rural villages (Alcrreca & Robles 2005). Jaguars have suffered deliberate persecution as hunting trophies and as a perceived threat to cattle (WWF 2012). Panthera onca is included in the Convention on International Trade in Fig 1. Panthera onca, source Alcrreca & Robles 2005 Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) Apendix I, so any international trade of this species, its parts (often in demand for Chinese traditional medicine) or its hunting is strictly prohibited. Amigos de Sian Kaan with the El Eden reserve are taking part in the Jaguar corridor initiative to try to help extend the current range of this vital predator. The territory of the female jaguar is about 25 and 40 km2 and it can lap with the territories of other females, but the animals avoid encountering each other if possible. The territories of male jaguars are twice as large. They are mostly described as nocturnal animals, although their mayor activity is at sunset and sunrise (Nowell & Jackson 1996) Jaguars are the largest predators in Tropical America, and they need enormous land extensions for their conservation. As apex predators they are crucial for the stability of the ecosystem, by regulating the populations of the species that they hunt (Chvez & Ceballos 2006). They have the strongest bite of any cat and frequently catch massive marine turtles as they leave the water to nest.

Fig 2. Jaguar distribution in America


This November we have been lucky enough to observe jaguar prints on base and, just one kilometer from the base, a lucky staff member even sighted a female with two cubs. Whilst following the jaguar prints South along the beach, two staff members discovered the carcass of a Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) dragged into the undergrowth bordering the sand.

Acting quickly, CONANP in conjunction with Amigos de Sian Kaan have set up five camera traps with the purpose of comparing the characteristics of these individuals with other sightings in the area, they have also confirmed that a jaguar was responsible for teh death of the Green Sea Turtle found by the staff. Amigos de Sian Kaan and CONAMP hope to investigate the range and prey of the Jaguars moving through the area. In

Fig 3. Jaguar footprints taken in Pez Maya

Mexico there are sixteen areas that have been deemed important for the conservation of the species, eight of those are primary priority areas, like the Sian Kaan Biosphere, with confirmed jaguar populations present (Chvez & Ceballos 2006).

Fig 4. Cub aguar footprints taken in Pez Maya

Alcrreca C. & R. Robles. 2005. Mammals of the Yucatan Peninsula. Editorial Dante. Yucat, Mxico. Pp 62-63. Chvez C. & G. Ceballos. 2006. Memorias del Primer Simposio. El Jaguar Mexicano en el Siglo XXI: Situacin Actual y Manejo. CONABIO-Alianza WWF Telcel-Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxico. Mxico D.F. Nowell K. & P. Jackson. 1996. Wild cats. Gland, Suiza: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan - IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group. pp. 118122. WWF. 2012. Especies en riesgo. El Jaguar.