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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 13-20

Jaguar conservation in southern Belize: Conflicts, perceptions, and prospects among mayan hunters

New College and Department of Geography, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA

Correspondence Address:
Michael K Steinberg
Department of Geography, Natural Resources and Conservation Mapping Lab, University of Alabama,
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.182801

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Belize has emerged as an international leader in jaguar conservation through the creation of numerous protected areas that contain prime cat habitat and by strengthening conservation laws. For example, in 1984, Belize created the Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve, the first special jaguar protection area in the Americas. In 1995, the government expanded Cockscomb by creating the adjacent Chiquibul National Park. In 2010, the government continued this commitment to jaguar conservation by creating the Labouring Creek Jaguar Corridor Wildlife Sanctuary in central Belize. As a result of these protected areas, Belize has been rightfully lauded as a leader in nature-based tourism and protected areas creation in Central America. However, outside national parks and communities that directly benefit from ecotourism, it is less clear how supportive rural residents are of cat conservation. It is also not clear if jaguars persist outside protected areas in locations such as southern Belize, where the environment has been significantly altered by human activities. Through interviews with Mayan hunters, this paper investigates the attitudes towards jaguars, human-jaguar conflicts, and potential community-based jaguar conservation in two Mayan villages in the Toledo District in southern Belize. Also, using indirect methods, the paper documents the presence/absence and other temporal/spatial aspects of jaguars in a heavily altered landscape in southern Belize.

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