World’s only short-tailed jaguar

NEWS AND VIEWS: You might have thought that I was discussing a genetically mutated jaguar in Belize and Guatemala which has a short tail very similar to that of the bobcat but I’m not. This beautiful jaguar had, at one time, a normal tail. He lost it somewhere along the way but the experts don’t know how or why.

Short-tailed jaguar in Belize and Guatemala
Short-tailed jaguar in Belize and Guatemala. Photo: Marcella Kelly
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

He’s been named, guess what, “Short-Tail”. He does have a genuine “first”, which is that he is the first jaguar to cross the boundary between Belize and Guatemala. They know this because he was photographed by camera traps in both countries. It is important news in one regard in that it proves the point that international cooperation on conservation is important. Jaguars are classified as Near Threatened by the Red List. It seems to me that nearly all the wild cat species are threatened in some way or another by human activity, some species more than others.

Back in 2009 he had his full tail and by 2011 it was missing. He was photographed in Guatemala in 2013 and then in Belize in 2014. He is the first “transboundary jaguar in the region”.

The late co-founder of the big cat conservation non-profit, Panthera, Alan Rabinowitz, said in 2014 that jaguars have been more resilient in terms of conservation than other big cats. If that’s true it may be because they live in areas where they are respected more or they are further away from China where they like to use big cat body parts in various ways including in traditional Chinese medicine. You’ve got to keep these cats away from the poachers because trading big cat body parts is big business. By the way, Belize has five wild cat species: the jaguar, puma, ocelot, jaguarundi and margay, which is very nice. It has a lot of good habitat for the wild cats. You can read about these wild cats by clicking on this link.

British Army

In a linked story, I note that on the British government’s website they announce that the British Army is protecting big cats in Belize. They’ve got a unit out there which has photographed jaguars, ocelots and mountain lions (pumas) in the heart of the Belize jungle. The British Army Training Support Unit Belize and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation have teamed up with the above-mentioned charity, Panthera, in the task of protecting endangered wildlife under a three-year programme. They’re doing it so that they don’t disturb the local habitats during military training operations.

Jaguar and puma in Belize photographed by British army
Jaguar and puma in Belize photographed by British army

They’ve captured some great images in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserves. This is a 430 km² area. It is described as being four times the size of Paris. They found that the presence of the army in the jungle deterred poachers and illegal logging of the forest. That’s a good thought. It’s something which would not have crossed my mind unless I had read about it.

British forces have a good relationship with the Belize Government Departments, landowners and NGOs. They work together well and as mentioned their presence helps to protect wildlife.

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