New York, NY – A significant victory was made for the future of the jaguar last week in Tegucigalpa with the establishment of Honduras’ first ever National Jaguar Conservation Plan by the Honduran government and wild cat conservation group, Panthera.
On March 1st, Panthera’s CEO and jaguar expert, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, and the Minister of Honduras' National Institute for the Conservation and Development of Forests, Protected Areas and Wildlife (ICF), José Trinidad Suazo Bulnes, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) launching the National Jaguar Conservation Plan and initiating a stronger commitment to conserving jaguars in Honduras and securing the Jaguar Corridor. Located in the heart of Central America, Panthera’s scientists recently confirmed that Honduras serves as a crucial link in the Jaguar Corridor, which seeks to connect and protect jaguar populations from Mexico to Argentina to ensure their genetic diversity and future survival.
At the ceremony, after a two-week tour of Panthera’s jaguar conservation projects in Honduras, Dr. Rabinowitz stated that “Today’s signing signifies Honduras’ commitment to the jaguar, recognition of the country’s role within the Jaguar Corridor, and a significant step forward in conserving their incredible natural heritage.” Attendees of this historic event included a representative of the office of Honduras’s Vice President, Victor Hugo Barnica, and representatives from the United Nations, World Bank, USAID, PROCORREDOR, CATIE, and Proyecto ECOSISTEMAS.
Through this new partnership, Panthera and the Honduran government will collaborate to strategically shape the development of land in and around the Jaguar Corridor that benefits both the country’s economic growth and the connectivity of the Corridor, including the use of wildlife underpasses and forest protection in areas of agricultural development, like oil palm plantations.
“The Jaguar Corridor Initiative is a plan for how the America’s largest and most iconic cat, the jaguar, can live within a human-dominated landscape,” said Panthera’s Jaguar Program Executive Director, Dr. Howard Quigley. ICF Minister Suazo also stated that, “With the help and support from key allies such as Panthera, the Honduran Government is already moving forward with the goals and actions contemplated in the National Plan. We visualized a plan that is alive and whose results will soon be evident and reflected on a better life quality for our people and better use of our natural resources.”
Panthera’s jaguar scientists, including Country Program Director Franklin Castañeda, will continue to define the Corridor in Honduras using camera traps, field surveys, and interviews with local people that identify key populations of jaguars and connectivity between these populations. Bridging partnerships with local communities, Panthera’s Honduran team will also continue to train ranchers in key human-jaguar conflict mitigation techniques and assess the vulnerability and threats facing the country’s jaguars. This conservation work is being carried out in three critical regions of Honduras’ Corridor, including Jeanette Kawas National Park, Pico Bonito National Park and the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve.
Dr. Quigley, also stated, “This is the third MOU Panthera has signed with a Latin American government, and embodies a call to action for all other Central and South American countries to join with Panthera to ensure a future for this far-ranging species. Jaguars don’t observe political boundaries – their future will rely on us and all of the 18 jaguar range states to work together and to make a commitment, like Honduras has just done, to conserve them.”
Today, Panthera is partnering with governments, NGOs and local communities in 13 of the 18 jaguar range states. Learn more about the Jaguar Corridor Initiative.