Jaguars Thrive in Lightly Logged Forests

Responsibly harvested areas may serve as habitat corridors for the big cats, but the key is “responsibly harvested”.

Jaguars, the largest big cats in the Americas, need a lot of space. One male can roam a territory spanning tens of square kilometers in search of mates and prey. But as ranching, crop farming and other forms of development encroach on tropical forests, these fearsome predators are losing ground. A study published in the April issue of Biological Conservation offers hope. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and Peru’s National Forest and Wildlife Service found that in some lightly logged forests in Guatemala and Peru—certified by independent experts as “well managed”—jaguar densities were comparable to those in protected areas or other high-quality habitats. The study adds to a growing body of evidence that such forests can serve as important habitat corridors for the wide-ranging felines. The researchers examined logging concessions in Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve, an internationally recognized conservation area with three levels of protection: a core of national parks; a buffer zone that allows farming and ranching; and a multiuse area that allows limited logging but excludes livestock. All forestry operations in the reserve must be certified by the independent nonprofit Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Established by an international consortium of conservation and […]

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