International Jaguar Day
Jaguars are as ecologically important as they are beautiful. A more formidable species does not exist in our forests, yet anthropogenic activities continue to threaten the existence of this species. On the observance of International Jaguar Day 2019, we present to you the case of a jaguar called Lee. Lee is a jaguar that was taken out of its natural environment and placed in captivity due to conflict with humans at Mabura Hill. In mid 2018, residents complained of losing approximately 60 dogs within the space of 3 months. During this period, the community had experienced severe electricity woes, with power being reduced during the hours of 23:00 h to 05:00 h. Many persons were of the opinion that Lee was responsible for their losses. Fearing for their lives and aiming to secure their property and livestock, residents resorted to trapping Lee. Since then, life for Lee has totally changed. Lee is now unable to live the ‘normal’ jaguar life, which includes hunting, mating and exploring the forest. Moreover, due to his trapping and relocation, Lee is now unable to fulfil his natural ecological function. He cannot contribute positively to the ecosystem by controlling the populations of the prey within his natural ecosystem, e.g., deer, peccaries, capybaras, turtles, tapirs. Additionally, he is unable to contribute towards the services that result indirectly from the activities of apex predators, including the provision of clean water, as well as materials for food and medicine and contributions to climate control. Trapping Lee was not the solution.
Today, Lee can be found in the Guyana Zoo where he is currently being housed.
We may not know what Guyana would look like without jaguars but the impacts of removing apex predators are seen in many countries. Their removal can result in trophic cascades and an increase in mesopredators (animals that replace them and are more difficult to control). We must all work to ensure jaguars continue to inhabit Guyana.
As we celebrate International Jaguar Day on November 29, residents are urged to be aware of the threats facing the jaguar and to understand that living in harmony with these majestic creatures can benefit both humans and the environment.
Humans and jaguars can co-exist through the following actions:
- Reduce hunting for prey species of the jaguar
- Keep livestock and pets in enclosures (pens/corrals)
- Avoid walking alone once you aware of a jaguar presence in your area
- Keep your surroundings clean, avoid having overgrown bushes.
- Keep your surroundings well lit
- Understand that jaguars are important and should be appreciated
- Changing the perception that jaguars are killers
- Advocate for jaguar conservation
Communities that are affected by the presence of jaguars are advised to make contact with the Commission to determine the best course of action. To celebrate Jaguar Day 2019, a toolkit is being launched so that residents can take appropriate actions to ensure that humans and jaguars can live in harmony.