President Trump’s Border Wall Will Mean The Extinction Of Jaguars In The United States

Posted on December 7th 2017

Jaguar return in doubt

Wildlife experts and biologists believe that one-day jaguars could make a return to the United States if the country leaves a trail open for females to follow males that have been spotted in the country. There have been seven confirmed male jaguars spotted in the US since 1996. Five of those males ventured into Southern Arizona and two were seen in South-Western New Mexico. Jaguars have effectively been extinct in both places for decades.

Hopes have been raised for a return of the big cat

Automated trail cameras captured footage of two new jaguars in Arizona since last autumn and this has raised hopes amongst conservationists that the big cat may well return to the United States after being hunted nearly to extinction. Unfortunately, politics is throwing a spanner into the works, the jaguar’s fate will largely depend on whether US President Donald Trump fulfils his pledge to build a border wall. An impenetrable wall would mean no male or female jaguar would be able to cross into the United States and this would all but mean extinction for the species in the US.

Status of jaguars in Mexico is also uncertain

The jaguar faces other threats as well. In Mexico for example the big cat is threatened by many of the same things its US ancestors faced almost a century ago. Ranchers see the big cat as a predator that preys on their livestock. The development of roads and settlements causes habitat loss and fragmentation. As humans alter the environment, the food chain weakens. Before the jaguar can return to the United States it will first have to survive South of the border so conservationists are concentrating their efforts at protecting the species hunting ground. They are also seeking to educate ranchers so that they are more willing to share their land with the big cat. Since jaguars are apex predators, if the environment can sustain the species, the rest of the ecosystem will have a better chance at survival.

There is a conservation plan in place, but its future depends on Trump

Officially the United States Fish and Wildlife Service lists the jaguar as being an endangered species and has therefore created a species-recovery plan. The draft plan was proposed less than a month before Mr Trump assumed the office of President and focuses on ensuring that the country stays connected with Mexico. In the absence of a wall, there are at present at least seven wilderness crossings a female jaguar migrating from Mexico could take to meet with a mate. However, if a structure is built that is impervious to humans, it would also be impervious to jaguars as well, forcing them to turn back. This means building a wall would effectively seal the fate of the jaguar in the United States.

The wall means extinction

Conservationists rarely see things in such black and white terms when it comes to individual threats to wildlife. However, when it comes to the wall, there is broad consensus. People and jaguars use the same mountains to cross the border and if an unbroken barrier is built to stop people from crossing, it simply means extinction of the jaguar in the United States which is a real shame.

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