|(Photo: Mike Gerrard)|
15-05-2016 Stabroek News, Guyana
In the February 16th, 2014 issue of Stabroek News, Evi Paemelaere, from the international Panthera organization (specialized in the protection of wild cats) wrote: “In the land of giants, the jaguar stands strong and proud on the coat of arms and adorns many banners and brochures to attract tourists happy to pay for catching a glimpse of America’s largest cat in Guyana.”
Tourists visiting Guyana in 2015 would have seen pictures of a dead jaguar, shot by a businessman, being carried through the streets of New Amsterdam, and since January 2016 tourists would have seen multiple pictures of at least three trapped jaguars, two of which are presently housed in small cages in the Georgetown Zoo and the third at the Hyde Park Animal Sanctuary, Land of Canaan, on the East Bank.
The fate of a fourth jaguar, captured by the residents of Capoey, near Mainstay Region 2, is still unknown. When I read the newspaper articles and look at the pictures of those magnificent animals cowering in their cages I want to hang my head in shame. I’m a firm believer that we can and must do better.
We are a country of 83,000 square miles with a great deal of “pristine land”, yet unspoiled by animal trappers, miners and loggers.
Our first Green President has promised incentives for businesses that invest in his government’s plan for a green and sustainable economy; he has asked that protected areas be established in every region of Guyana and that ecological parks and natural reserves be established to protect our natural habitat.
Guyana is privileged to have international organizations such as Panthera, Iwokrama, World Wildlife Fund and Conservation International developing projects in our hinterland. We are also lucky to have an active wildlife division of the EPA and Protected Areas Commission (PAC). Furthermore, we are fortunate to have a large number of private businesses and conservations willing to support a save the jaguar movement.
It seems that Guyana now has the organization and the political will to formulate and implement a strategic plan for saving our jaguars. It would be nice to remember the Golden Jubilee as the year Guyana initiated actions to save our jaguars. It would be heartwarming to look at our Coat of Arms and know that our jaguars were safe for future generations.
In closing, I thank all the daily newspapers especially Kaieteur News and the Stabroek News for caring not only for people but for our animals and the environment.