Jaguar Research at Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge
Jaguars (Panthera onca) are classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservationof Nature) due to a 20 – 25% decrease in population size over the past three generations. Jaguars are currently only occupying 51% of their historic range. The current range extends from Mexico to Argentina with Belize hosting one of the largest populations of jaguars in Central America. The Jaguar Corridor Initiative is trying to create a corridor of habitat that connects all the 18 countries in Latin America. The goal is to maintain the genetic diversity within the wild jaguar population. Belize is home to one of the largest populations of jaguars in Central America. The country has set aside thousands of acres of habitat to help support the preservation efforts. With over 85 species making up the prey base of jaguars they are considered a keystone species within the rainforest.
Materials & Methods:
To establish sound management practices, scientific based evidence needs to be collected about the size and makeup of the jaguar population. Evidence can include photographs that can help identify individual jaguars, casts of jaguar tracks and DNA analysis of fecal samples. Research being conducted at Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge, Belmopan Belize deployed 3 sets of trail cameras in January 2018.
A plaster cast of a jaguar track was also made in January 2018. Continued monitoring of the trail cameras, additional casting of tracks and DNA analysis will help provide important information about the jaguar population that lives on the grounds of Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge.
The team scouted various locations for visual evidence of jaguar’s and were lucky enough to find a path with footprint of an adult and a smaller print indicating the potential of a jaguar cub traveling with an adult female. In addition there was plenty of agouti (Dasyprocta punctate) evidence; one of the jaguar’s favorite prey species.
The cameras were set up in tandem so that anything walking through the zone would likely get a picture of both sides of the animal, making it easier to identify again later. You can see the opposite camera in the first pictures below.
The first reading of the cards in April of 2018 proved that there IS jaguar activity! AND that there is cougar activity. This initial photos from the same camera show this below:
Ways to be Involved in Jaguar Conservation:
- Enroll in an Inspire EdVenture jaguar trip to Belize
- Coordinate a group trip to Belize to conduct jaguar research
- Participate in a jaguar hike while at Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge
- Sponsor a student who will be part of a jaguar research trip to Belize
- Sponsor a jaguar at the Belize Zoo