‘Guyana will pursue adaptable measures to protect the Jaguar and other species’ -Min. Harmon
DPI, GUYANA, Thursday, March 8, 2018
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon has urged countries which fall within the apex mammalian carnivore’s range to commit to continued sustainable human development and the preservation of the systems and resources that support that this.
He was speaking at the recently hosted high-level forum on “Regional Challenges and Opportunities for Conserving Jaguar Landscapes in Line with the Sustainable Development Goals,” at the United Nations Headquarters, New York.
The forum recognises country leadership and aims to generate momentum for advancing conservation within and across Jaguar range countries, and to chart a common way forward to ensure accelerated conservation action and adequate financing.
The Jaguar is the largest apex mammalian carnivore in Latin America, ranging over areas in 18 countries, as such, it is a critical component of healthy, functioning vertebrae communities, as well as of healthy ecosystems which are a foundation not only for wildlife conservation but also for peoples’ well-being.
Minister Harmon said this country, as part of the Amazon basin, is located roughly in the middle of that range and has a deep interest and responsibility in the preservation of the mammal.
He told those gathered that “Guyana is fortunate to be part of the Amazonic Basin, and Jaguars have always been a representation of strength and endurance for the Guyanese people. As such, our policymakers immortalised this fierce animal, in symbols which define us a nation.”
One of the first directives from the board of the Guyana Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission, to the Wildlife Scientific Committee, was to develop a strategy for rapid response to potential wildlife conflicts.
The need for this strategy arose primarily from inter-species conflicts which taking place in Guyana, Minister Harmon disclosed.
Responses to these, he noted have been challenging, especially when it was perceived that lives and livelihoods were at stake. The responses to those challenges included proactive protection measures such as relocation and release of Jaguars.
There are different approaches to relocation based on the circumstances and the volatility of the situation which is assessed and certain considerations are taken.
In addition, the State Minister informed that community meetings in indigenous and forest edge communities, and with ranchers are held to address concerns. These meetings also suggest possible mitigation measures to remove attractants and better protect livestock including cattle and small ruminants.
He said that “while most of our forest remains intact and fully functional the role of the extractive sectors as contributing factors to the displacement of our large cats, including jaguars, cannot be ignored. The Guyana Forestry Commission is responsible for the sustainable management of our forest resources and does so, through the institution of robust forest protection measures in accordance with international agreements such as the convention on international trade in endangered species and the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT).”
These measures include the requirement for concessionaires within the country’s extractive industries to establish biodiversity reserves within their concessions.
To date, stakeholders were consulted on the creation of harvesting and non-harvesting zones and the concept of a quota system. These management units, the Minister assured will also be supported by enforcement mechanisms such as designated transport routes, checkpoints and mandatory reports so that the movement of wildlife can be accurately traced. These measures will supplement protection for the Jaguar, since they would sanction sustainable use of its food resources.
“For us this is “part and parcel” of our commitment and resolve to establish a green economy; make Guyana a model green state and to contribute meaningfully to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030,” Minister Harmon committed.
He pledged Guyana’s willingness to working with all other host countries in establishing corridors and all other adaptable measures possible to ensure the longevity of the Jaguar and other species, to ensure that the apex carnivore remains throughout its current range and where possible, recover those lost.
By: Stacy Carmichael