Sunday, July 21, 2024

Jaguar spotted swimming off Ambergris Caye north coast


Fly-fishing tour guide Michael Peralta and his guests witnessed a rare sighting on the northwest coast of Ambergris Caye on Tuesday, September 14th while on their way to the fishing flats. They suddenly spotted something swimming in the water and to their surprise, it was far from a marine creature, but a full-grown jaguar.

The big wild cat swam near the fishing boat, while followed by dolphins. Peralta said it happened around 7AM and from his judgment, the jaguar was swimming from Deer Caye to Ambergris Caye. “When he first saw us, he showed us his teeth and coiled up his tail,” said Peralta. He said it was great excitement for him and his guests. Unexpected and stunning. According to him, it was a fast swimmer and was heading towards the area near Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve.

Illegal hunting threatens Jaguars

Illegal hunting and deforestation continue to reduce jaguar numbers and have forced them out of their habitat and to interact with humans. Currently, Belize has one of the healthiest populations of jaguars in Central America. Thus, the jaguar is protected under the laws of Belize.

Large portions of north Ambergris Caye are still wild and home to unique species, such as jaguars and pumas. Unfortunately, over the recent months, concerned islanders have been reporting illegal hunting activities around this northern area of the island. Islanders claim that jaguars have been shot and killed to supply the black market.

The public is again reminded that according to the National Protected Areas System Act, the Wildlife Protection Act, the Forest Act, and Fisheries Act, activities such as hunting, fishing, and clearing of land are prohibited within the Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve. Illegal activities (hunting) in this area come with a maximum of $20,000 and/or sentenced to two years imprisonment.

For more information on Belize’s wildlife or to report illegal activities like hunting, contact the Forest Department at 822-1524.

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