Nature Ramble

Staying in South America this week and heading north to one of the lesser known countries.

Everybody knows about Argentina and Brazil, but few know about Guyana; it used to be British, you know and they drive on the left.

But, where is Guyana?

Image – MongaBay

South America is home to one of the most beautiful of the big cats; the jaguar.

I have seen one at a distance of about 400 metres, close enough thank you. I had to use a 200mm + 2x teleconverter to get a good shot, but alas that is a photo lost to the ravages of time.

That was in the Pantanal.

But they range far and wide, from Argentina to the Darien Gap, that inhospitable stretch of land that connects the south to Central America and has defied all man’s attempts to traverse with transport.

Railways and roads have failed.

Proof that man cannot tame all the wilderness.

Rusting in the forest, a train bears mute testimony to failure to connect Central and South America

Rusting in the forest, a train bears mute testimony to failure to connect Central and South America

Guyana pledges to protect jaguars

The South American nation is in talks to establish a ‘jaguar corridor’ a network of pathways that would link core populations

Jaguars once roamed widely from the south-western United States to Argentina, but have lost nearly half of their natural territory and have disappeared altogether from some countries. Photograph: Mauricio Lima/AFP/Getty Images

The lushly forested nation of Guyana on Thursday joined a regional pact to protect jaguars, the elusive spotted cat that is the biggest land predator in the Americas but has become vulnerable as expanded agriculture and mining carves away at their fragmented habitat.

Leaders of the government’s environment ministry were signing an agreement with the New York-based conservation group Panthera, which is trying to establish a “jaguar corridor”, a network of pathways that would link core jaguar populations from northern Argentina to Mexico. Guyana is pledging to ensure the protection of jaguars, the national animal that is a near-threatened species.

The South American nation, with some of the region’s least spoiled wilderness, joins Colombia and nations in central America in recognising the corridor and agreeing to work towards the long-term conservation of jaguars, according to Esteban Payan, regional director for Panthera’s northern South America jaguar program.

A network of cameras equipped with motion sensors and fixed to tree trunks has revealed tantalising glimpses of sleek, solitary jaguars slinking through Guyana’s dense rainforests and vast grasslands stretching to the country’s border with Brazil.

Scientists reported finding a relatively healthy jaguar density of three to four animals per 161 miles in Guyana’s southern Rupununi savannah. That means that preserving grasslands are as important to conservation of jaguars as protecting the dense rainforests, they say.

Evi Paemelaere, a Belgian jaguar scientist with Panthera, said villagers in remote spots in Guyana have helped her set up cameras along the roads and hunting trails that the big cats like to travel on.

“Amerindians are very keen on being part of the project,” she said from the capital of Georgetown.

Jaguars once roamed widely from the south-western United States to Argentina, but have lost nearly half of their natural territory and have disappeared altogether from some countries. Heavy hunting for their spotted coats decimated their numbers in the 1960s and early 1970s until the pelt trade was largely halted. No one has any reliable estimates of how many jaguars are left in the wild, where they prey on peccaries, tapirs and, as they are powerful swimmers, river turtles.

Guyana, a country roughly the size of the US state of Idaho where most of the 756,000 inhabitants live along its Atlantic coastline, has been widely recognised for balancing progress with preservation. In 2009, it began a low-carbon push aimed at maintaining very low rates of deforestation and combating climate change, while also promoting economic development. It could receive up to $250m from Norway by 2015 as an incentive to protect its forests through sustainable mining, timber harvesting and other projects.

Alan Rabinowitz, Panthera’s CEO and a zoologist whose research in Belize in the 1980s led to the creation of the world’s first jaguar preserve, said Guyana’s signing of the jaguar agreement “demonstrates the government’s continued commitment to its legacy of conservation alongside economic progress and diversification”.

000theGuardianLogo

More photos:

Cubs – Image: redbubble.com

.

Advertisements

4 responses to this post.

  1. what marvelous animals. also good to remember that not all things can be tamed by humans.

    Like

    Reply

  2. I can’t say which big cat is my favorite, I appreciate them all for their differences. I am glad to see some countries taking up the duties to protect the wildlife that is so quickly disappearing. Closer to home, in areas near where I live mountain lions were reintroduced to the wild. Unfortunately, most of the people in these areas are upset because they need to fear now when their children or farm animals are outside. they forget the animals were here before us, and we moved into their territory.

    Like

    Reply

    • >lsf, the North American mountain lion (puma) is a relation of the jaguar, we also have black jaguars and sandy coloured ones.

      You are so right, we are the interlopers; but I can understand people’s fears.

      AV

      Like

      Reply

Be green, say something

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: