Today, the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) celebrates the first ever International Jaguar Day with partners around the world and announces its increased support to protect the iconic cat.
The International Jaguar Day celebrates the Americas’ largest wild cat as an umbrella for biodiversity conservation and an icon for sustainable development and the ancient cultural heritage of Central and South America. Jaguars have experienced over 50% loss in its natural range in addition to population decline as a result of conflict with communities, loss and fragmentation of habitat, overhunting of the jaguar’s prey by people and poaching.
On this special occasion, SGP is pleased to announce the launch of a new programme focused on the conservation of Big Cats, including Jaguar conservation in Argentina and Panama with local communities.
Considering increased threats to the Big Cats (including jaguar, tiger, snow leopard, lion, etc.) around the world, SGP has established a dedicated program with partners in 10 countries to focus on innovative ways to promote their conservation with local communities. Argentina and Panama were one of those selected through a competitive process based on country programmes’ interest and capacity.
To date, to protect jaguars and their habitat, the GEF Small Grants Programme, implemented by UNDP, has supported more than 17 projects in 9 countries in the region.
In Panama, SGP supports grantee-partner the Yaguará Panama Foundation with two grants to protect the jaguars of Panama. One of the main threats for jaguars today is human-wildlife conflict, and in recent years, an average of at least 15 jaguars per year have been killed. To alleviate the conflict, Yaguará works to build knowledge and capacity among local populations to sustainably manage their wildlife interactions.
Pijibasal is a community located in the buffer zone of Darién National Park, a conserved area spanning 575.000 hectares of critical ecosystems. Here, Yaguará works with local communities through environmental education, scientific research, and the development of livelihood-generating alternatives to reduce conflict between people and the jaguar. Among other initiatives, Yaguará has trained a group of locals to act as promoters for jaguar conservation and are also in the processes of developing an anti-predation farm model.
In line with the objectives of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as well as GEF and UNDP strategic directions, SGP has supported thousands of community projects conserving wild species and their habitats across the world. SGP experience shows that increased awareness and participation in environmental initiatives by the local population are key for biodiversity conservation.
With the new programme on Big Cats, SGP will continue to engage with local communities and civil society organizations as key partners to conserve the iconic species that could further promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
Photo: Eduardo Estrada