Averting a Jaguar Poaching and Trafficking Crisis

By Adrian Reuter, John Polisar, and Rob Wallace | October 3, 2019

“A re-emergence of international trade in jaguar parts could reverse the conservation gains achieved over decades of dedicated work by many actors.”

The listing on CITES and its implementation resulted in countries successfully shutting down the jaguar fur trade and associated poaching. This step — in combination with the creation of large protected areas and recognition of indigenous territories across the species’ range and their effective management — allowed jaguar populations to rebound. Since that time, the main threats to the jaguar have been the destruction and degradation of habitat, reduction of natural prey through over-hunting, and direct killing due to conflicts with ranchers.

Jaguar canines. Photo: ©WCS

“This week’s illegal wildlife trade conference in Peru provides an opportunity for threat information on jaguars to be shared with governments in their natural range, as well as with potential transit and destination countries.”

A re-emergence of international trade in jaguar parts, even if still entirely illegal, could stimulate hunting expeditions for jaguars, reversing the conservation gains achieved over decades of dedicated work by many actors. The plight of Asian tigers — populations drastically depleted due to trade in their body parts — illustrates the real threat of jaguar population declines and local extinctions. Further, recent research by WCS in Mesoamerica indicated that allowing even casual local trade in parts from jaguars killed during cattle-cat conflicts may generate an incentive for lethal control, rather than working towards human-jaguar coexistence.

Photo: ©Roberto Lorenzo

“Given the urgent threat resumed trade represents, it is essential to strengthen capacities of authorities for improved enforcement actions and execution of increased penalties.”

WCS has conducted decades of research and conservation programs on the ground across jaguar range. We work with governments, indigenous and local communities and many other partners on the conservation of these big cats and their habitats in nine countries (Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Brazil) — ensuring that the species thrives in some of the most important strongholds across its range.

Jaguar skin. Photo: ©WCS

WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.

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