The Month of the Jaguar prowls on. In the third blog of this series, we migrate north from Colombia and Brazil up the Jaguar Corridor to Belize. Learn from Panthera Belize’s Chia-Yu Chang about the exciting programs we’re leading there in honor of this important month. See the first and second blog of this series.
Across the jaguar’s range, we're honoring the cultural importance and recognizing the plight of the Americas’ largest wild cat species during Month of the Jaguar. From Mexico, where we celebrate the significance of jaguar culture, to Colombia and Brazil, where we carry out critical work to protect South America’s iconic jaguars, Panthera is partnering with communities to increase understanding of and appreciation for the integral role of jaguars.
Our Belize country program focuses on camera trap surveys of jaguars and their prey. For almost twenty years, we have monitored jaguars in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, which shows a stable high-density population. Our ultimate goal is to combine our efforts with data from other organizations to form a single jaguar data bank. This data bank will allow us to track individual jaguars all over the region, which will be especially useful if they come into contact with communities.
As one of Panthera’s original flagship country programs, the only one located in a primarily English-speaking jaguar range country, Panthera Belize is celebrating Mes del Jaguar through creative expression. Art, critical to jaguar culture in the past, is just as relevant to its present. And that present depends on a specific group — children, who represent the future of conservation. In Belize, we are using art as a way to empower the next generation to foster a love for big cats and get involved in their protection.
Schools from around Belmopan, the new capital and third-largest city in Belize, were invited to participate in this friendly competition. This Conservation Art Competition asked students to use recyclable materials to create a jaguar inspired art piece, which was judged by an esteemed panel representing conservation organizations including Panthera, the Belize Audubon Society and Belize Zoo. The class with the winning artwork from grades 1 to 3 (Standard 1 from Our Lady of Guadalupe Primary School) and 4 to 6 (Standard 6 from Garden City Primary School) will be given a free tour of the Belize Zoo, which frequent Field Notes Blog readers know is home to a famous jaguar named Ben.
We’re so excited that this has come to fruition. We believe that when children have fun learning about wild animals, they’ll learn to respect them, too. Moreover, a free trip to the Belize Zoo, to see animals that have been critical to our conservation efforts in Belize like Ben, but are no longer fit to live in the wild, will surely ignite their curiosity. We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the Month of the Jaguar.