The jaguar is a majestic animal that plays a very important role in our environment. Being an apex predator, jaguars help to control the populations of prey within their natural ecosystems. This ensures that they contribute positively toward environmental services such as the provision of clean water, materials for food and medicine, and climate control.
Sadly, jaguars face numerous threats that jeopardise their existence.
In Guyana, jaguars are mostly killed out of fear, or in retaliation for killing a domestic animal. In fact, every 9-13 days, a jaguar is killed in Guyana as it comes into contact with cattle farmers, gold miners, or someone engaged in similar economic activity.
In these situations, people hardly take a step back to think through alternatives to killing wild cats, or to study the circumstances that may have led to conflict in the first place. In most of these cases, people either lack the necessary know-how or tools to ensure humans and jaguars can co-exist mutually in the same space.
To ensure mutual coexistence between humans and jaguars, the following actions can be taken:
> Reduce hunting for prey species of the jaguar
> Keep livestock and pets in enclosed areas (pens/corrals)
> Avoid walking alone, once you are aware of a jaguar’s presence in your area
> Keep your surroundings clean, and avoid having overgrown bushes
> Keep your surroundings well lit.
To raise further awareness on this issue, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is partnering with the Guyana Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission (GWCMC) and Dr. Anthony Cummings, Professor of the University of Texas at Dallas, to host a Jaguarthon under the theme “Think Like a Jaguar”. This will comprise a series of runs and post-run conversations that would emphasise the importance of wild cats, including jaguars, pumas, and other wildlife, to the well-being of humans.
Beyond human wildlife interactions, the runs will also engage entities and agencies in Guyana involved in tackling challenges related to human health, including domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, and safeguarding the welfare of women and children.
The Jaguarthon runs are to make the point that wildlife health and well-being are dependent on that of humans across Guyana. Runs will be held in Annai on Thursday, December 14, and in Georgetown on Sunday, December 17, from 07:00 hrs.
For more information on this event, log on to https://jaguarthon.com/.