The Northern Jaguar Project (NJP) works to protect an isolated population of jaguars in the US-Mexico borderlands by reducing human-wildlife conflict, engaging with local landowners and encouraging environmental stewardship in the area. The NJP primarily focuses on the Northern Jaguar Reserve (NJR), which was designated by the project to safeguard wildlife and habitat and also to promote conservation in local populations.
The NJP created and manages the 58,000 acre Northern Jaguar Reserve (NJR), located south of the US-Mexico border. The area is one of the last wild refuges in the far north of the jaguar’s range, with a low human population.
The poaching and wildlife trade problem
Species affected Jaguar Panthera onca
Overview of the problem
The jaguar range has massively decreased across the Americas and the NJR is home to a small but critical population. Within the last ten years many jaguar killings have been reported - some of these are thought to have been motivated by anger due to livestock depredation.
The anti-IWT initiative
NJP employs a few ‘Jaguar Guardians’ to provide protection for jaguars and other species by deterring poaching, encroachment and theft of wildlife in the reserve. The Jaguar Guardians also help to understand more about jaguar ecology by collecting data from camera traps, monitoring tracks and recording sightings.
An important part of the project is respecting local cultures and the Jaguar Guardians act as a bridge between the reserve and local ranch owners and part of the role includes developing and maintaining this relationship.
Stewardship and Long-term Management Fund
The Fund helps NJP care for and protect the wildlife and landscapes of the reserve. The Fund provides income for activities including patrols, ecological monitoring and promoting conservation within local communities.
NJP works with communities near the reserve to foster support for conservation and to build social tolerance to wildlife.
NJP hosts regular community meetings with local landowners and the livestock association to discuss how they might get involved in conservation and how sustainable land management can be wildlife-friendly. These meetings are vital for shaping future activities that are compatible with protecting wildlife and supporting local livelihoods.
NJP’s Viviendo con Felinos (Feline photo) project uses a payment for ecosystem services approach to reward ranchers who produce photographs of jaguars (and other species such as mountain lions and ocelots) on their land from camera traps. So far 12 ranchers are enrolled in the program, covering a 55,000 acre area. The purpose of Viviendo con Felinos is to build more trust between the reserve and local ranchers, to encourage a pro-wildlife ethic and to reduce human-wildlife conflict.
NJP also hold workshops with elementary students to engage the younger generations in wildlife conservation and provide environmental education.
Inclusion of gender, age and ethnic groups
Environmental education activities specifically target schoolchildren.
Increasing incentives for wildlife stewardship
Decreasing the costs of living with wildlife
Build/and or support sense of community ownership or stewardship
Improving education and awareness
Has the initiative made a difference?
Outreach activities have shown positive signs that landowners are now think much more positively about conservation. For example, in 2010 a group of ranchers self-organised to form the “Rancheros Amigos de la Reserva del Jaguar del Norte” (Rancher Friends of the Northern Jaguar Reserve). This indicated that the ranchers are becoming more tolerant to predators and that they have an interest in conservation.
Improved ranch management has also helped to reduce livestock predation and NJP is continuously working with the ranchers to understand how best to mitigate jaguar poaching that occurs as a result of human-wildlife conflict.
The elementary school program has started to reach 450 children per year and has developed into the primary source environmental education in the area. NJP will continue to develop their outreach programs to ensure that ranchers and local children remain positive about conservation and wildlife.
Organisers, donors and partners
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