Cattle Farmer Learns To Co-Exist With Jaguars In Colombia
Rancher Jorge Barragan wants to protect jaguars and has taken it upon himself to provide food and shelter for the endangered species. Barragan says he does not mind sacrificing a few head of cattle to do his part to conserve the Jaguar. He says they are "worth more alive than dead."
About ten years ago he set a portion of his family farm, La Aurora, to turning into a nature reserve and returning it to savanna, which provides shelter and food for jaguars. The Barragan family has also banned the hunting of wild animals on the property, which are jaguar food. Barragan combs through hours of footage on hidden cameras spread across his farm. He has given names to many of the Jaguars that visit the farm and can distinct each through their unique coat pattern, "He has managed to identify 54 individual jaguars." Barragan loses about 100 cattle per year when they wander too far into the savannah, each cow costs more than $300 per head. Barragan says he makes up the losses through visits by scientists and tourists trying to photograph the jaguars. He gets nearly 200 visitors per year at $30 per person per night.
The jaguar population numbers are decreasing, with farming, residential and commercial development among the main threats. The species once stretched from the southern United States to northern Argentina, it is not less than half its population, and it is extinct in several countries. There are some 15,000 Jaguars left in Colombia and about 170,000 in the Americas as a whole. "Jaguar-livestock conflict is a serious threat to jaguar survival... There are few areas within Jaguar range that can be considered safe for the cats." - IUCN.
"A culture was created of killing the feline to stop the problem [of livestock losses].... But we are doing the opposite" Barragan told AFP. According to Panthera, about 55 other Colombian farms are now following in Jorge Barragan's footsteps, seeking to better coexist with the jaguars they used to regard as their enemy.