Threats & Opportunities
Habitat loss, hunting, federal anti-predator programs, and conflicts with livestock have precipitated rapid declines of the world’s jaguar populations, and the species is today considered endangered throughout its entire range. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands where, within the last 100 years, the jaguar has been virtually eliminated. While individual jaguars continue to be documented in the mountains of southern Arizona and New Mexico, recent field investigations have determined that the nearest breeding population of 80 to 120 jaguars exists in Sonora, Mexico, approximately 125 miles south of the border.
Preferring unpopulated pockets of nature and avoiding contact with people, the ever-shy jaguar poses virtually no risk to humans. Yet indiscriminate hunting of carnivores persists. Tragically, within the last decade, dozens of jaguars have been killed in this area – including females and their cubs. As this small but critical population struggles to avoid extinction, hopes that jaguars will make a comeback in the U.S. depend on their survival.
The lands surrounding the Northern Jaguar Reserve form one of the largest unbroken expanses of wildlife habitat in northern Mexico. This region of Sonora is just beginning the transition from old-style to conservation ranching. Although ranchers have long considered the jaguar a nuisance species, we are working to introduce strategies to avoid livestock depredations that may lead to the killing of jaguars. We’re also examining how to best expand the opportunities made possible by the Northern Jaguar Reserve and how to limit the manifold threats to jaguar recovery.