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Feb 21, 2014

G.O.B. signs MOU to protect jaguar corridor

This morning in Burrell Boom, officials from the Ministry of Forest, the University of Belize and Panthera, as well as other representatives from various environmental groups, gathered for the signing of a memorandum of understanding to protect the habitat, as well as the biological corridor traversed by jaguars and their prey.  News Five’s Duane Moody was on hand for the adoption.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

An official commitment, a memorandum of understanding, was signed today between the Government of Belize, Panthera and the University of Belize to pledge a joint effort in developing a cooperative framework to establish and protect biological corridors and core areas that function as habitat for jaguars and their prey in Belize. Dr. Elma Kay, of UB’s Environmental Research Institute, says that the process started back in December of last year.

 

Elma Kay

Dr. Elma Kay, Environmental Research Institute, University of Belize

“Since December of last year, we embarked on a process with key stakeholders to develop a management plan for the Central Belize Corridor area. A corridor is basically an area that allows the passageway from our large protected area blocks and also connects us to the bigger forest like the Celba Maya, which we share with Mexico and Guatemala. So the work that we are doing to balance the development that is happening in the area, with maintaining the function of the corridor to maintain the healthy population of animals like oru iconic jaguar, goes beyond Belize.”

 

Back in 2012, several acres of the jaguar corridor was grazed by Green Tropics.  The Spanish company intended to build a sugar factory, along with a refinery and cane fields, complemented with an energy generation component. But its operations were put on hold for dredging a canal forty to fifty feet wide and close to four miles long through the Labouring Creek Jaguar Corridor Wildlife Sanctuary. Minister of Forest, Lisel Alamilla, also addressed the gathering.

 

Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forest

Lisel Alamilla

“It would be really unfortunate for our protected area systems if we were to lose the corridors because without connectivity then we would have these animals isolated and weaken their chances of survival. In talking to Doctor Allen and hear him speak yesterday, he really reminded us how important we as a country are in ensuring the survival of the jaguar species and I think that we need to rally behind the ERI, Panthera and those from my ministry who are on the ground, doing the work to do the conservation action plan and to do the implementation of that plan. Developing the plan is just the beginning; it is actually implementing it and making the actions happen on the ground.”

 

Alan Rabinowitz

Panthera, leaders in wild cat conservation, is an entity dedicated to the conservation of wild cat species and their habitats and has a long history of jaguar conservation efforts in Belize and the Mesoamerican region. Belize is one of eighteen countries signing MOUs to maintain the jaguar corridor.

 

Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, C.E.O., Panthera

“Your piece of the jaguar corridor, as small as it might seem when you look at map from Mexico through Argentina is actually a very special piece of the jaguar corridor. You have some of the wildest jungle I have seen remaining throughout the jaguar range. You have some of the best jaguar populations. Belize has some of the densest jaguar population in the world living with people; help in creating an ecotourism industry and showing how jaguars and local communities can live together.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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