Recently, GlobalPost reporter Simeon Tegel joined Panthera’s Research Fellow, Bart Harmsen, for a trip to Belize’s Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve to learn about Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative and the state of the country’s largest wild cat. Read the article below, entitled Cockscomb Basin: Where the Big Cats Are, or on GlobalPost’s site to learn about the landscape and jaguars of Belize and Panthera’s work to protect this wild cat in Belize and beyond, and hear anecdotes from Harmsen about the first time he encountered a jaguar in the wild.
Cockscomb Basin: Where the big cats are
COCKSCOMB BASIN, Belize — As humans increasingly destroy big cat habitats around the world, this breathtaking Central American wilderness offers conservationists a rare piece of good news.
Compared to the dire fate of lions and tigers, jaguar numbers remain relatively healthy. And nowhere has a denser population of the Western Hemisphere’s largest feline than the sprawling, primeval landscape of Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.
This 128,000-acre expanse of tropical forest — reminiscent of a scene from Jurassic Park — offers the solitary cats their perfect environment of virgin jungles and rivers in which to hide and a rich diet of peccary (a pig-like mammal), paca (a rodent the size of a large terrier), and armadillos.
Just as importantly, locals largely respect the laws prohibiting hunting jaguars — other than farmers on those rare occasions when the carnivores attack their livestock.
No wonder, then, that scientists believe Cockscomb is home to as many as 80 breeding-age adults, with others regularly coming and going from neighboring protected areas in Guatemala and Mexico.
Read Jaguar: One Man’s Struggle to Establish the World’s First Jaguar Preserve by Panthera CEO, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, about his work to help establish the Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve.