November 11, 2007
By Mariah Nunes of Desert Sky Middle School, Tucson Citizen
The Northern Jaguar Project needs your help preserving endangered wild cats. Jaguars are native to Arizona, and it is essential to know that they are still here! The Project is working to build a 45,000-acre conservation area for these big cats in the heart of their feeding grounds.
I spoke with Craig Miller, the Southwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife and vice president of the Northern Jaguar Project. He says jaguars are important to Arizona’s ecosystem because they are an “umbrella species.” Jaguars are at the top of the food chain. They eat animals like javelina, deer and cattle. If ranchers see jaguars on their property, many will shoot them. So the project has set up the Jaguar Camera Survey Contest.
This innovative project rewards ranch owners for the presence of wildlife on their property. A contract is signed agreeing not to kill predators and allows visits by conservationists. Motion-activated cameras are set up, and ranches are awarded money for pictures of jaguars, ocelots, mountain lions and bobcats. The pictures help researchers gather data on the wildlife species.
“Humans determine the fate of jaguars,” Miller said. “We need to recognize that we have the ability to help.”
So what can we do? Save a Spot for Jaguars! You can make a $49 donation to “adopt” an acre of land that will be a part of the Sonora sanctuary. Learn more at www.northernjaguarproject.org or call 623-9653 Ext. 5.