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Yucatán’s wild felines need protected habitats to survive

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A zoo in El Salvador hosts a pair of Jaguarundi cubs. Photo: Getty

Mérida, Yucatán — The Peninsula is home to at least five species of wild felines who have managed to survive development and deforestation.

Their numbers have dwindled, but the jaguar, puma, ocelot, margay and jaguarundi still roam the most secluded corners of Yucatán, according to the Ministry of Environment and Urban Development (Seduma).

According to studies on the distribution of wild felines, the jaguar, has its habitats along coastal wetlands, as well as in some forest patches bordering Campeche and Quintana Roo.

Jaguars, like this one in Chiapas, are rarely spotted in Yucatán. Photo: Getty

The puma and jaguarundi, a small cat also known as a tigrillo, have been most adaptable to loss of jungle and the increasing presence of human beings. The others have struggled to maintain their numbers.

It is estimated that only one or two adult jaguars remain for every 3,000 hectares in the Yucatán. Wary of humans, jaguars are thought of as solitary creatures, and were hunted to extinction in the United States over 70 years ago.

The Mexican Association of Mastozoology and the civil association Pronatura Yucatán Peninsula have agreed that to reverse the path toward extinction, existing jungles must be preserved.

There is still time to save the jaguar population, as well as other plant and animal species, says Román Abraham Puc Gil, the head of the Feline Conservation Area of ​​Pronatura Yucatán Peninsula.

For 10 years, Pronatura has promoted programs to protect and conserve natural habitats. Program include reforestation, fire prevention and fighting fires; and establishing natural protected areas both public and private.

In 2014, the trap camera system operated by the civil association caught the image of a jaguar in coastal Sisal, an encouraging sign.

The state is also using eight trap cameras, which automatically snap photos of animals in the wild, even at night.

Source: Notimex

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