BFF-14 Nicaragua operation rescues two endangered jaguar cubs

119

ZCZC

BFF-14

NICARAGUA-ENVIRONMENT-JAGUARS

Nicaragua operation rescues two endangered jaguar cubs

MASAYA, Nicaragua, Jan 28, 2021 (BSS/AFP) – When a post on social media
exposed animal traffickers who planned to illegally sell two young jaguars
abroad, Nicaragua zookeeper Eduardo Sacasa had a narrow chance to save the
cubs.

The poachers — who had already killed the young cats’ mother — were
caught red-handed and agreed to hand the animals over, but under one
condition.

They demanded Sacasa, director of Nicaragua’s National Zoo, meet them in
the Daukura region and pick up the cubs without bringing any authorities
along.

So Sacasa flew to the Caribbean city of Bilwi, and then, with the help of
four guides, traveled first by car and then up a river by boat to a village
to meet the poachers and save the baby jaguars — one of the most endangered
species in Nicaragua.

“It’s our passion to save these little animals that are in danger of
extinction, they’re killing them,” he told AFP upon return to the capital
city of Managua with the felines, a female and a three-month-old male.

“They’re thin, they (the poachers) gave them cowhide to eat,” Sacasa
lamented. “They were going to sell them to a Chinese citizen after taking
them to Honduras.”

He explained that lately there have been wild animals roaming through human
communities after hurricanes Eta and Iota in November destroyed their
habitats.

The nervous little green-eyed predators on Wednesday arrived at the zoo
south of Managua, where they will spend the next few days getting dewormed
and undergoing medical examinations.

According to Sacasa, jaguars are among the most endangered species in
Nicaragua, along with the tapir.

The zoo, which also houses an animal rescue center, is developing a
breeding program for jaguars, which can live up to 25 years in captivity, but
often do not make it past 10 in the wild, due to habitat destruction and
illegal hunting, Sacasa explained.

In Nicaragua, jaguars, which are strong hunters capable of taking down even
a crocodile in the water, mostly live in the forests along the Atlantic
coast.

Jaguars, or panthera onca, are listed as “near threatened” on the
International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of
threatened species.

BSS/AFP/FI/1117 hrs