Dec 5, 2019

Changes in behaviors of farmers towards jaguars

Cattle of small scale farmer
Cattle of small scale farmer

Since 2017, we began working with farmers to adopt measures to protect their livestock from jaguar predation and educate them about jaguar ecology; and now, we are seeing changes in farmers' perceptions towards jaguars in southern Belize.

We partnered with the Colorado State University's Conservation Leadership master's program to assess our Human-Jaguar Conflict Program. We wanted an honest assessment of the work done so far and recommendations of the next steps to a possible program expansion. Two CSU master's students consulted with staff involved in and participating farmers of the program.    

The students conducted semi-structured interviews and participated in a livestock farmer forum to learn more about the farmers' experiences prior and after the adoption of mitigation measures. The 9 participating farmers, in addition to clearing around the perimeter of the farm, installed solar lights where cattle slept at night, improved corral to help protect calves, improved fencing to keep jaguars out and cows in, and introduced donkeys to help alert the herd of cattle. Each farm had at least one of the mitigation measures implemented on their farm.  

The most effective adopted mitigation measures, which prevented the loss of livestock, especially calves, were solar lights and improved corral. Only one farmer lost a calf at the beginning of the program, prior to the changes in the management of livestock farms. A farmer, after setting up electric fencing and seeing that it has been effective in deterring jaguars, has decided that he can continue on his own and that Ya’axché focus resources to support another farmer in the Maya Golden Landscape. 

Education and mitigation measures that work has been important in the perception change, farmers are okay with jaguars being around and not preying on livestock. Of course the assessment has indicated that more work needs to be done, more resources are needed, more farmers to be engaged and partnerships to be strengthened to increase impact of the Human-Jaguar Conflict Program. 

Individual supporters, Disney Conservation Fund, Colorado State University, various partners and the livestock farmers have all made the successes possible thus far. As we seek to include more farmers in and improve the program and plan to reduce the increasing impacts of the forest loss and competition for the food of the jaguars in the Maya Golden Landscape, we remain positive that the top predators can be around for future generations in the forests of Belize. Thank you for support our Human-Jaguar Conflict Program!

Small scale livestock farmer from Medina Bank
Small scale livestock farmer from Medina Bank
Livestock farmer forum at Ya'axche's Field Center
Livestock farmer forum at Ya'axche's Field Center
A jaguar photographed at Maya Mountain North FR
A jaguar photographed at Maya Mountain North FR

Links:

Jun 5, 2019

Ya'axches 4th Annual Bioblitz

Students at Ya'axche's 4th Annual Bioblitz
Students at Ya'axche's 4th Annual Bioblitz

On Friday, May 24, 2019, Ya’axche Conservation Trust hosted its 4th annual Bioblitz. A bioblitz is a global event where scientists and citizens join up to seek to identify as many species within an area as possible within a given time period. These events have been replicated across the world and serve as an avenue to encourage public engagement and participation in biodiversity conservation. Ya’axche has modified this event to make it accessible to upper primary school level children. This year, Ya’axche hosted over 120 children from schools of the Maya Golden Landscape at their Golden Stream Corridor Preserve Field Station. Throughout the day children learned about Ya’axche’s ongoing biodiversity monitoring and research efforts, and students were given the opportunity to gain hands on lessons in navigation and orienteering, bird monitoring point counts, mammal camera trapping, freshwater invertebrate monitoring and identification and tree identification. Students from the villages of Big Falls, Silver Creek, San Miguel and Bladen spent the entire day with Ya’axche staff and rangers to learn about the organizations ongoing work in protected areas management and biodiversity conservation. In addition to learning about monitoring and research skills and wildlife identification, students received educational tools to encourage them to continue their citizen science within their homes. Each student received a notebook, pen, pencil, ruler and wildlife identification pamphlet to assist them in recording species in their backyards and schools. Students who correctly answered questions in a special quiz event held at the end of the day also received reusable waterbottles as an added bonus. Ya’axche’s event was featured on local and national news media outlets and students relayed positive feedback about the day’s events. Most students enjoyed learning new skills and spending the day outdoors in the Golden Stream Corridor Preserve. Parents and teachers appreciated the educational value of the event in promoting citizen conservation and science education at the primary school level. Ya’axche thanks all its donors and sponsors for making this year’s Bioblitz a success, and the staff appreciates the opportunity to engage with the most impressionable cohort of local communities to become involved in conservation efforts and protect their natural resources.

Students learning to set up a camera trap
Students learning to set up a camera trap
Students identifying bird in the field
Students identifying bird in the field
Students learning compass navigation
Students learning compass navigation
Students identifying macroinvertebrates
Students identifying macroinvertebrates
Students learning tree characteristics for ID
Students learning tree characteristics for ID

Links:

May 22, 2019

Farmer's Forum on ad hoc monitoring

On March 30, 2019, Ya’axché Conservation Trust's Human/Jaguar Conflict team met with the nine farmers currently utilizing mitigation strategies on their farm. Our Protected Areas Management Director, Protected Areas Manager and Research Officer, facilitated a farmer forum at Ya’axché's Golden Stream Field station to discuss the ongoing progress of mitigation measures, review mitigation data, and determine the most effective strategies for preventing jaguar attacks on livestock. Farm profiles were compiled and reviewed to assess the success of mitigation combinations. Farmers engaged in an open discussion about their experiences with the different mitigation tools on their farms. The accompanying camera traps deployed on farms helped the team and farmers to monitor the presence of jaguars and other wildlife around the farm. During the discussion, farmer's were asked four questions:

-What are the main issues in your farm?

-How can you contribute to reducing the human-jaguar conflict?

-What can we do to work together (Ya’axché and Farmers)?

-What is the best way to receive information about the human jaguar conflict?

The feedback from farmers was positive and it was clear that over time, these farmers have come to view this project as more of a partnership than an initiative led by Ya’axché. In addition, they recognized their own role in the success of the program and have embraced the responsibility of monitoring and data collection. Based on the review of profiles and the feedback from farmers, it has been concluded that the most successful combination of mitigation measures is the 360 degree solar lights when combines with proper coral use and fencing of the farm. These forums serve to better inform our human/jaguar conflict team on the measures to implement on potential new farms. Moving forward, Ya’axché is gathering information to implement 2 more demonstration farms based on needs assessments in target communities. Contributions from GlobalGiving donors, help to make this initiative possible and allows us to assist farmers to protect their livelihood, and Ya’axché to protect jaguar population is southern Belize.

 
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