World’s foremost jaguar scientists make first-ever attempt to traverse, protect the Jaguar Corridor in three-year, ten nation odyssey across Latin America
New York, NY – Panthera, the only organization dedicated to conserving the world’s 40 wild cat species, today launched the Journey of the Jaguar – a three-year, ten-nation odyssey from Mexico to Argentina that seeks to secure a future for the Americas’ largest wild cat.
Sixteen years after first identifying the Jaguar Corridor, Panthera CEO Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, accompanied by Jaguar Program Executive Director Dr. Howard Quigley, will lead the first-ever attempt by man to traverse this six million km2 landscape with the singular mission of accelerating progress to protect it. With Panthera’s scientists and partners, they will assess the state of the jaguar, the integrity of its wild landscapes, and the areas most in need of conservation attention throughout its range.
Shining a light on the importance of the jaguar to ecosystems, economies, and cultures across its range, Drs. Rabinowitz and Quigley will traverse Latin America’s wild landscapes in a race against time to move governments, corporations and communities to take decisive steps to save the jaguar and the incredible diversity of plants and animals, including people, that depend on its survival.
Panthera CEO Dr. Rabinowitz stated, “The Jaguar Corridor exists today because the jaguar shaped it and owned it, overcoming all obstacles that stood in its way. Although human beings are relative latecomers to the story of the jaguar, they are the crucial determinant in what comes next for the species.”
Embarking this week on the first official expedition of the Journey of the Jaguar, Drs. Rabinowitz and Quigley have joined Northern South America Jaguar Program Director, Dr. Esteban Payán, in northern Colombia to explore the nearly impassable Darien gap where Colombia meets Panama; conservation challenges and opportunities that exist in Urabá, home to Colombia’s mangrove saltwater-dwelling jaguars; and the San Lucas Forest, the critical link connecting jaguars in Central and South America.
Stopping off at Panthera’s conflict mitigation model ranches, the team will also visit the site where Panthera captured the first ever photos of a wild jaguar with cubs in an oil palm plantation, underscoring the significance of building sustainable agricultural plots that minimize impacts on migrating wildlife.
Creating refugees out of wild cats, habitat loss and fragmentation caused by human developments like oil palm monocultures is one of the greatest threats facing jaguars, alongside killings in retaliation for livestock depredation and overhunting of prey species. Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative seeks to connect and protect the mosaic of human-dominated landscapes from Mexico to Argentina that are vital to maintaining the genetic diversity and survival of the species. Cupped between Panama to the north and a handful of South American countries, Colombia holds the key to the jaguar’s passage from Central America to South America.
Dr. Payán stated, “The launch of the Journey of the Jaguar in Colombia is critically timed, as the country embarks on a new era of peace. As formerly unoccupied territories open up for conservation and ecotourism development, Colombia holds outstanding potential to further unify the nation and its people with a new focus on building peace with biodiversity. Protecting Colombia’s tremendous wild places and wildlife, including jaguars, is part and parcel of protecting the future of the people of Colombia.”
Just in time for the latest expedition, Panthera today launched a new, interactive Journey of the Jaguar website, allowing users to follow Panthera’s jaguar scientists in real-time, and showcasing the fascinating stories, photos, and videos of the people, wildlife and landscapes the team encounters along the way.
Timed with the launch of a new conservation program in Mexico earlier this year, the first Journey of the Jaguar expedition explored Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, home to part of the country’s largest jaguar population. In April, Panthera’s scientists embarked on the second journey, traveling on foot and by mule from southeastern Arizona into Sonora and Sinaloa to assess the Northern Corridor’s unique threats and greatest conservation needs.
Dr. Quigley stated, “Securing the future of the jaguar has been a lifelong mission of mine as a scientist, and I’m excited to continue this adventure through the launch of the Journey of the Jaguar. As the survival of many big cats and other wildlife around the globe grows ever more tenuous, with faith in their future burning out, I’m encouraged by the resilience of the jaguar - a big cat for which hope still shines bright.”
About the Jaguar Corridor Initiative
Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative is the only conservation program to date which seeks to protect jaguars across their entire six million km2 range. In partnership with governments, corporations and local communities, Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative is working to preserve the genetic integrity of the jaguar by connecting and protecting core jaguar populations in human landscapes from northern Mexico to northern Argentina. Learn more.