The Jaguar Corridor Initiative
Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative is an ambitious conservation strategy that aims to preserve the physical and genetic connectivity of jaguars throughout their 6 million km2 range, from Mexico to Argentina. Recognizing that jaguars require vast territories to thrive, Panthera works with governments, local communities, and other stakeholders to establish a network of safe passages, or corridors, to ensure connectivity among core jaguar populations. The corridors are crucial for jaguars to disperse, find mates, hunt, and establish territories.
Driven by our scientific research to identify the most crucial jaguar conservation units (JCUs) and corridors, our strategy, community outreach, and engagement with jaguar range countries aims to secure protection for these corridors. Our teams work to ensure that the jaguar’s ecological role as an apex carnivore and its cultural significance as a symbol of strength are sustained for generations to come. In partnership with government agencies, other NGOs, academic institutions, and local communities, Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative works across Mesoamerica and South America to monitor jaguar and prey populations, secure the safe movement of jaguars by securing protected areas and supporting coexistence with local communities through mitigating human-jaguar conflict.
Panthera Co-Founder Dr. Alan Rabinowitz helped establish the world’s first jaguar reserve in 1986 in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (CBWS) in Belize. Before its founding, the Cockscomb Basin was previously used for logging and hunting. After his study on jaguars, Dr. Rabinowitz worked with the government of Belize and partners to successfully establish CBWS and protect this core jaguar population.
The next big moment for jaguars was during a meeting of jaguar experts held in Mexico in 1999. During that meeting, experts identified core jaguar populations (jaguar conservation units, JCUs) which would contain at least 50 breeding individuals and/or sufficient intact habitat and prey base to sustain a viable breeding population. Next, a range-wide genetic study by Dr. Eduardo Eizirik and team discovered that jaguars from Mexico to Argentina were a single species – not divided into sub-species. This inspired Dr. Rabinowitz and Dr. Kathy Zeller to develop the Jaguar Corridor, using the latest analyses to determine the least cost paths that a dispersing jaguar could take to maintain physical and genetic connectivity between JCUs. Country by country, Panthera’s scientists began by mapping out the jaguar’s presence and ground-truthing (measuring) the hypothesized corridors. A corridor might include a cattle ranch, a canal development, a citrus plantation, or a backyard. Using these data, Panthera has partnered with governments and corporations to advise on land developments that are both economically profitable and ecologically sustainable, allowing safe passage for jaguars and other wildlife.
Will jaguars be able to thrive in a developing world and maintain their range-wide connectivity? We are using the latest science to guide our proactive interventions – hoping to spare jaguars from the same fate as wild tigers, which have become fragmented islands of populations. The actions we take today will decide. After Dr. Rabinowitz’s passing in 2018, Panthera continues his lifelong mission by protecting jaguars through the vast Jaguar Corridor.
Our scientists work to mitigate human-jaguar conflict, including livestock predation, by training ranchers in anti-predation husbandry techniques that prioritize the safety of both cats and livestock. Such techniques include building predator-proof enclosures. Panthera’s field teams also educate local communities about the overhunting of jaguar prey species, which contributes to livestock predation.
Panthera currently leads, supports, and/or is expanding our efforts in 11 of the 18 jaguar range states, including Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, and Suriname.
Our Impact on Jaguars
Panthera has had a significant impact on jaguar conservation and has helped catalyze a global movement to protect this iconic species. Our work has been instrumental in:
Habitat Connectivity: Establishing and maintaining the Jaguar Corridor, a network of pathways that connect jaguar populations across their range, ensuring genetic flow and species resilience.
Scientific Research: Contributing to more than 30 peer-reviewed publications on jaguars and continues to conduct groundbreaking studies on jaguar populations, their movements, behaviors, and genetics.
Community Engagement: Working with local communities, farmers, and ranchers to mitigate human-jaguar conflict, fostering coexistence, and educating people about the ecological and cultural importance of jaguars.
Anti-Poaching Efforts: Implementing measures to reduce poaching and retaliatory killings of jaguars, including training rangers and providing community-based conservation programs.
Building Human-Cat Coexistence: Protecting jaguars by mitigating local human-cat conflict and protecting core habitat.
Awareness and Education: Raising global awareness about the plight of jaguars and the need for their conservation through published scientific articles, educational programs, and public outreach.
Conservation Partnerships: Building coalitions with other conservation organizations, local NGOs, and indigenous groups to amplify our collective impact on jaguars.
Policy Influence: Collaborating with governments across Latin America to secure political commitment and legal protection for jaguar habitat, JCUs, and corridors.
Overall, Panthera's work has significantly contributed to the conservation and understanding of jaguars, helped to stabilize and increase populations, and developing the framework for this species to continue to roam the Americas.
The Jaguar 2030 Roadmap
In 2018, leading international conservation organizations and key jaguar range states joined together to launch the Jaguar 2030 Conservation Roadmap for the Americas. Presented at the Conference of Parties 14 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Roadmap aims to strengthen the Jaguar Corridor from Mexico to Argentina by securing 30 priority jaguar conservation landscapes by 2030.
This bold, regionally focused initiative will bolster international cooperation and awareness around jaguar protection initiatives. This includes those mitigating human-jaguar conflict, connecting and protecting jaguar habitat, and stimulating sustainable development opportunities, such as ecotourism, that support the well-being of communities and Indigenous peoples coexisting with this species. Read more about the Jaguar 2030 Roadmap.
The Jaguar School
Since 2009, our Panthera Colombia team has engaged with over 2,100 children and youth to teach them about the importance of wild cats and their conservation. Students learn that as apex carnivores, jaguars protect biodiversity and even the water we rely on — in flooded savannas, riverside forests and lagoons. Importantly, these future conservationists are catalyzing change for jaguars by bringing positive perceptions home to their families.
The Jaguar School, or La Escuela Jaguar, is a remarkable learning institution in Colombia dedicated to inspiring children to appreciate jaguars. Our work in the Brazilian Pantanal also includes a local elementary school, Escola Jofre Velho, where children of local ranching families and nearby ribeirinho families gain state-approved education. By engaging them through various interactive activities such as art, music, games and even statistics lessons, our young students learn why jaguars are so crucial to ecosystems, not only in Brazil and Colombia, but around the world. The school is situated where essential services like water, energy, school supplies, and books are hard to come by. The Jaguar School is creating new opportunities for both vulnerable jaguars and the surrounding community.
In the Brazilian Pantanal, students include Panthera employees and people from neighboring ranches and tourist lodges. Students of all ages enjoy access to modern communications like email and WhatsApp. For example, one jaguar tour guide — who is also a part-time cowboy, horse trainer, and outboard motor mechanic — can now order replacement parts over the phone, thanks to our literacy program. This improves the speed and quality of his work tremendously. In this remote region, we also help to organize and host periodical visits by medical and dental professionals (governmental and private) who care for the local communities.
The Curriculum at the Jaguar School
Students learn that as apex carnivores, jaguars protect biodiversity, keep their ecosystems in balance and even preserve the water and air we humans rely on.The Jaguar School also teaches children about the meaning and significance of jaguars in indigenous cultures. While jaguars have come into conflict with humans, educational outlets like the Jaguar School can help improve perceptions and foster coexistence.
Core components of the Jaguar School Curriculum include:
- Teaching wildlife monitoring techniques including identifying the tracks of various species;
- The ecological and cultural roles of wild cats in their ecosystems;
- Using art and music as tools to change attitudes and perceptions toward wild cats;
- Implementing playful and educational activities about what to do if one encounters a jaguar;
- Teaching children to differentiate between cat species, such as ocelots, jaguars, and jaguarundis;
- Sharing interactive family activities about protecting cats;
- Integrating the jaguar into different subjects such as math, Spanish, science, and English.