The WWF's Work with Jaguars

Desiree Michels

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Most wildlife aficionados will be familiar with the high-profile animal conservation group, WWF - the Worldwide Fund for Nature. For those embarking on a Jaguar holiday to the Brazilian Pantanal, the organisation's work in the conservation of the elusive spotted big cat may be of particular interest. An ethically run Jaguar holiday in itself is a valuable tool in raising the profile of the animal, but organisations like the WWF also play a vital role.

Who Are the WWF?

Established in Switzerland, in 1961, the WWF is an international non-governmental agency dedicated to the preservation of the world's wilderness with the aim of reducing our human footprint on the environment. The WWF scientists and policy experts are: “working with partners to create a new kind of global development road map". Concentrating on six areas – oceans, forests, food, climate, wildlife and fresh water – their work focuses on the goals of conserving nature and reducing the most urgent threats to the “diversity of life on Earth".

How WWF are Helping Panthera onca

Panthera onca, the Jaguar, is on the radar of numerous wildlife conservation groups due to its tenuous ‘near threatened’ status, including the WWF.

The organisation works autonomously and also alongside the governments of some South American countries on various projects and initiatives aimed at protecting the survival of the big cat. Requiring large areas of land to hunt, mate and roam, the big cat's original habitat has been decimated by about 65% due to massive deforestation. In Brazil, the WWF has successfully partnered with the country's government to protect significant tracts of Amazonian forests with the specific purpose of preserving habitat.

Having worked in the Amazon region for more than 40 years, they've helped establish wildlife corridors and implemented eco-tourism programmes (including working with Jaguar holiday providers) and sustainable cattle ranching methods in order to minimise human/big cat conflict and reduce the impact of deforestation.

In Peru, the WWF has implemented a number of initiatives to track the big cats. They use camera traps and other data collection methods to gather information that helps conservationists learn more about the animal and its habitat in order to influence decision makers. The WWF scientists and field workers are also training members of the local communities to monitor the wildlife of their own region.

Adopt a Jaguar

On a commercial level, the WWF solicits donations to help with its programmes via their website, but the Adopt a Jaguar programme is another way they're raising money and awareness. The programme offers symbolic “adoptions” of the animals, and those who purchase the USD$55 kit for themselves or as a gift receive a 12" plush stuffed big cat, a photo, a species card and an adoption certificate. There's also the option of a “virtual adoption” without receiving the items in the kit, which maximises the financial impact of the donation. The WWF is just one of the important conservation organisations dedicated to the preservation of this most magnificent of big cats – Panthera onca.

Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer with a special interest in Jaguar watching. Being passionate about her subject, Marissa chooses the expert-led Jaguar holiday itineraries organised by Naturetrek, which have brought her unforgettable sightings of a wide range of wildlife in some of the most spectacular regions on Earth.


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