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Jaguars Roaming Free in Independence

Jaguars Roaming Free in Independence
February 07
15:54 2019 NEWSPAPER - Feb.7th.-

Following several sightings of two jaguars on the prowl in Independence Village attacking dogs and livestock, residents are concerned about the safety of children in the nearby vicinity and whether the Forestry Department is taking note of the situation to prevent any further attacks.

In an interview with the Reporter, concerned resident Emilio Zabaneh explained that it is believed that the two jaguars are stuck along the corridor between Mango Creek and a nearby shrimp farm and have been desperately searching for food. Zabaneh theorized that the jaguars had ventured into town about a month ago after feeding on the carcass of a dead horse. Since then they have been back on multiple occasions and have been terrorizing farms in the nearby vicinity and even attacked four of his dogs on his property.

Earlier this week Edwardo Pott from the Forestry Department told the Reporter that last Thursday Forestry personnel were in the village conducting site visits and meeting with affected persons. Based on data collected, Pott said that they have decided to set up yard cameras so that they can document the behavior and movements of the jaguars to ensure the next step.

“We are following up on the concern and actually we are just waiting on whatever images we get from the cameras. Based on that we will decide if we are supposed to set a trap and where so that we can capture the animals if necessary. The Belize Zoo is aware of it too and they are willing to work along with us to complete the mission,” explained Pott.

The Forestry department also paid Zabaneh a visit, but he told the newspaper that he was not satisfied with the recommendations that he was given – “they recommended that I put lights, but that is not good enough for me. I have a lot of children in the area and while the lights will probably deter the animals from coming all the way, I would like to see them put traps and move them to a caged facility like the Zoo. This poses a concern for the entire village. I just want the relevant authorities to come in and deal with it.”

Forestry personnel say that jaguars will only attack humans when they are under threat, which in itself is very rare and there have been no documented cases of such in Belize.

“If the recommendations are not working and the jaguars are still coming around, those types of animals are called problematic animals and there is a possibility that their behavior would escalate to something worse. It is rare but we also cannot take it for granted and need to keep monitoring the situation,” Pott explained.

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