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Conservation and the Jaguar

April 25, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 179

It's a sad fact that jaguar populations all over the world are in decline. With the animal considered 'near-threatened' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, this means the species might be threatened with extinction in the not-so-distant future. It makes the chance to see these animals in the wild all the more precious in the face of their uncertain future, especially considering that it is the loss of their habitats that has contributed to the sharp decline. Another factor has been hunting - their beautiful fur, although wonderful to admire on a Jaguar tour, also makes them a prime target for poachers [although the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species helped to reduce the number of pelts taken worldwide].

Threats to the Jaguar

Deforestation has undoubtedly made a huge impact on the survival of this beautiful animal, and not only has the practice affected it by decreasing the available territory for it to make use of, but the species has also been forced into greater competition with others - including humans. Poaching and ranchers defending their livestock have both had an adverse effect on the species. Although a kill is very rare sight on a Jaguar tour, the animals have been known to adapt themselves to including domesticated cattle as a part of their diet. This has encouraged some ranch owners to hire full-time hunters, and, tragically, often the animals are shot on sight.

No matter how dire the situation may seem, there is hope, however. Conservation efforts are underway to educate ranch owners in different, non-lethal methods of defence against the animals, and promoting ecotourism in the hopes that plenty of people will be interested in a closer look at the species on a Jaguar tour.

An Umbrella Species

The animal is scientifically understood to be an 'umbrella species' - a term meaning that, as its home range and habitats are so broad, other species will be protected simply through efforts to maintain the Jaguar population. Conservation organisations have focused on providing suitable connected habitats, which coincidentally, have the effect of providing a beautiful backdrop for a Jaguar tour. With other species able to make use of the habitats - and in fact, encouraged to in support of a healthy internal ecosystem - it can be a victory for the majestic creature, and all efforts are being made to prevent the species from falling victim to extinction.

Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer. Naturetrek is a tour operator specialising in expert-led natural history and jaguar tour experiences worldwide. Naturetrek brings over 25 years of experience to any jaguar tour in some of the most spectacular regions on Earth.

Source: EzineArticles
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