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Mexico’s jaguar population up 20% in 8 years — proving national conservation strategies really work

Mexico’s jaguar population up 20% in 8 years — proving national conservation strategies really work
Source: Unsplash/Ramon Vloon

According to the first two censuses of the the elusive predators ever conducted, Mexico’s jaguar population increased by about 800 individuals from 2010 to 2018, confirming the national strategy to protect them is working.

study used nearly 400 remotely activated cameras in 11 Mexican states

The number of wild jaguars in Mexico grew by 20% in eight years, according to a new survey. There are currently 4,800 jaguars in Mexico, according to the study, which was carried out using, among other methods, nearly 400 remotely activated cameras installed throughout 11 Mexican states. Details published at the time said the cameras took more than 4,500 photographs over a period of 60 days. Of those images, 348 were of jaguars and researchers were able to identify 46 individual animals. The cameras also captured 3,556 photographs of 20 species that serve as a food source for the big cat. The survey was led by researchers from 16 institutions and 25 academic groups.

The jaguar’s image, sometimes appearing alongside the smaller ocelot and the plain-coated puma, prowls the art of most ancient Mexican civilisations, from the Olmec to the Aztec. In the years following the Spanish conquest, during the colonial period, and still today - amongst Mexico’s indigenous peoples – the jaguar has retained a tenacious grip on the human imagination.
The jaguar is America’s largest and most powerful cat, and for more than three thousand years it has been Mexico’s most enduring symbolic animal. The jaguar’s image, sometimes appearing alongside the smaller ocelot and the plain-coated puma, prowls the art of most ancient Mexican civilisations, from the Olmec to the Aztec. In the years following the Spanish conquest, during the colonial period, and still today – amongst Mexico’s indigenous peoples – the jaguar has retained a tenacious grip on the human imagination. Source: Mexicolore.co.uk

Researchers used the 2010 census results to develop a National Jaguar Conservation Strategy

The jaguar (Panthera onca) is one of the most threatened carnivores in the Americas. Despite a long history of research on this charismatic species, to date there have been few systematic efforts to assess its population size and status in most countries across its distribution range. 

Researchers recently published the results of the two National Jaguar Surveys for Mexico, the first national censuses in any country within the species distribution. They estimated jaguar densities from field data collected at 13 localities in 2008–2010 (2010 hereafter) and 11 localities in 2016–2018 (2018 hereafter). 

Researchers used the 2010 census results as the basis to develop a National Jaguar Conservation Strategy that identified critical issues for jaguar conservation in Mexico, and they worked with the Mexican government to implement the conservation strategy and then evaluated its effectivity. 

To compare the 2010 and 2018 results, they estimated the amount of jaguar-suitable habitat in the entire country based on an ecological niche model for both periods: 

Suitable jaguar habitat covered 267,063 km2/106,589 sq miles (13.9% of the country’s territory) in 2010 and  288,890 km2/111,541 square miles (14.8% of the country’s territory) in 2018. 

Using the most conservative density values for each priority region, researchers estimated jaguar densities for both the high and low suitable habitats. 

The total jaguar population was estimated in 4,000 individuals for 2010 census and 4,800 for the 2018 census. The Yucatan Peninsula was the region with the largest population, around 2000 jaguars, in both censuses. 

These promising results indicate that the actions researchers proposed in the National Jaguar Conservation Strategy, some of which have been implemented working together with the Federal Government, other NGO’s, and land owners, are improving jaguar conservation in Mexico. 

The continuation of surveys and monitoring programs of the jaguar populations in Mexico will provide accurate information to design and implement effective, science-based conservation measures to try to ensure that robust jaguar populations remain a permanent fixture of Mexico’s natural heritage.

Source: Gerardo Ceballos et al., PLOS

Brazil hosts the largest continuous jaguar habitat today, with an estimated population of more than 10,000 individuals
Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula hosts about 2,000 jaguars, with others spread throughout coastal and inland habitats across the nation. Brazil hosts the largest continuous jaguar habitat today, with an estimated population of more than 10,000 individuals Source: Facebook/Ger Seb

Scientists say success a combination of research, outreach, conservation, and public policy

“It was incredible to see jaguars in so many places where there weren’t any before,” ecologist Gerardo Ceballos of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, founder of Mexico’s National Alliance for Jaguar Conservation and lead author of the paper told Mongabay. 

Ceballos and a team of 20 ecologists spanning the country gathered data from photo capture traps to determine where jaguars lived and how many roamed in each of the country’s protected conservation regions. 

Then, they created a plan to tackle the most critical issues affecting Mexico’s jaguars: preserving wildlife corridors and sanctuaries; advocating for helpful laws and public policy; and avoiding or resolving conflicts with livestock owners.

In 2022, the Mexican government and the National Alliance for Jaguar Conservation plan to expand the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in the southern Yucatan Peninsula from 723,185 hectares (2792 sq miles) to more than 1.3 million hectares of land (5000 sq miles), making Calakmul the largest protected tropical forest north of the Orinoco River—all motivated by jaguar conservation.

“It’s very unusual that scientists can do all these things: research, outreach, conservation, and public policy,” said Ceballos. “And in Mexico we have been able to do that.”

While this news is definitely encouraging, and proves these methods work, the struggle is not over for many species and habitats. We can and must keep striving for their survival and wellbeing.

Source: Mongabay 

An increase to more than 1.3 million hectares of land (5000 sq miles) will make Calakmul the largest protected tropical forest north of the Orinoco River—all motivated by jaguar conservation.
In 2022, the Mexican government and the National Alliance for Jaguar Conservation plan to expand the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in the southern Yucatan Peninsula> An increase to more than 1.3 million hectares of land (5000 sq miles) will make Calakmul the largest protected tropical forest north of the Orinoco River—all motivated by jaguar conservation. Source: Unsplash/Ramon Vloon

the Jaguar 2030 Roadmap

The jaguar is the third largest cat in the world—after tigers and lions—and both the largest cat and top apex predator in most of the Western Hemisphere. Jaguars play an important role in the structure and function of the ecosystems in which they live, from northern Mexico to northern Argentina. 

Jaguars are a critical component of healthy, functioning animal and plant communities and have significant umbrella effects for biodiversity conservation. A jaguar-focused conservation strategy can serve as an effective umbrella for a suite of co-occurring mammals. 

Jaguars are also a valuable indicator of healthy ecosystems, and they become a focus for the protection of habitats that are important for forest protection and climate mitigation initiatives. As such, they constitute a foundation not only for wildlife conservation, but also for peoples’ well-being.

By supporting the Jaguar 2030 Roadmap, the jaguar range countries reaffirm their commitment to integrated development, based on conservation of natural capital and the sustainable productive systems. 

The project aims to facilitate a transition towards a low carbon economy resilient to climate change in terms of international agreements, in alignment with the 2030 Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 (Aichi Targets).

Taking advantage of the newly energised sense of collaboration across jaguar range and with the aim of creating a clear informational baseline for all stakeholders, the Roadmap also provides detailed information regarding jaguars and their range. 

This includes a set of country profiles, transboundary profiles highlighting shared and contiguous JCUs and, finally, a comprehensive listing of baseline actions, organised by individual Pathway.

Learn more about the Jaguar 2030 Roadmap

Source: Pantera.org

The objective is to strengthen the Jaguar Corridor across the range countries, by securing 30 priority jaguar landscapes by 2030, stimulating sustainable development, reducing jaguar-human conflict in human-dominated landscapes, and increasing the security and connectivity of core protected landscapes, thus meeting globally significant biodiversity goals. More details, click link:?
The Jaguar 2030 Roadmap is a regional plan to save America’s largest cat and its ecosystems. The objective is to strengthen the Jaguar Corridor across the range countries, by securing 30 priority jaguar landscapes by 2030, stimulating sustainable development, reducing jaguar-human conflict in human-dominated landscapes, and increasing the security and connectivity of core protected landscapes, thus meeting globally significant biodiversity goals. More details, click link:? Source: Jaguar 2030 Roadmap
Make an Impact

The 3 Cs Vital for Jaguar Conservation: Coordination, Connectivity, and Coexistence

International Jaguar Day on November 29th raised awareness about the increasing threats facing the jaguar and the critical conservation efforts needed to ensure its survival. These efforts stretch from the local, national and regional levels to high-level international initiatives seeking to protect the jaguar and its habitat. The GEF-funded Global Wildlife Program works in three jaguar-range countries Belize, Ecuador, and Panama to address multiple threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation, human-jaguar conflict, and the trafficking of jaguar parts. Learn more.