Many residents of Belize are proud of the nationÂs continued work to protect native and endangered creatures. Â The coastline of the nation is particularly well regarded around the world, with many keen divers and marine enthusiasts flocking to Belize each year to enjoy the underwater realm. However, BelizeÂs on-land habitats are home to much wildlife too, including the protected jaguar. Â On December 10th officials confiscated a jaguar hide, helping to prevent the illegal trade of animal souvenirs and reduce poaching in the process.
Scientifically known as Panthera Onca, those living in Belize have been protecting the jaguar for many years. Â One of the large cats, the jaguar is an endangered species and is protected by the Wildlife Protection Act Chapter 220 of the Substantial Laws of Belize Revised Edition of 2000, Section II Part Three. Â This legality makes it against the law to capture, hunt or be in possession of animal parts for specific creatures, of which the jaguar is included. Â Jaguars are known to be the third largest cat in the world, behind lions and tigers, and itÂs believed there are just 750 wild specimens left in Belize.
On December 8th, it came to the attention of a wildlife conservation organization volunteer that a man was trying to sell a jaguar hide. Â Photos were taken and quickly posted upon the Belize Wildlife Conservation NetworkÂs Facebook page, which helped residents of San Pedro to quickly notify police. Â On December 10th, the police recovered the jaguar skin. Â John Arana, Police Constable of the San Pedro Police Force, said that they began an immediate investigation to retrieve the hide and arrest the man trying to sell it.
Although they managed to retrieve the hide at an empty lot, the man attempting to sell it has still evaded police. Â Currently, the police have revealed the hide was brought to San Pedro from Belize DistrictÂs Maskall Village. Â The black market value of the hide is estimated at $2,500. Â The American Education Wildlife SanctuaryÂs Chris Summers received the hide and has now taken it to the Belize Forestry Department.
For those in Belize, itÂs important to know that the safety of the countryÂs wildlife is being safeguarded. Â While, in this case, another jaguar has been lost, the retrieval of its hide before it was sold on the black market goes some way to address the problem.