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Global Ideas

Dances with jaguars

Colombia's SFF Los Colorados natural park is a haven for wildlife, but human settlers are causing problems. Park rangers are using novel ways to educate new arrivals about their environment, including a jaguar festival.

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Project goal: Colombia's SFF Los Colorados national park is home to rare animal and plant species. Yet although it is illegal and environmentally damagin, humans have also settled in the park. Rangers don't want to forcibly remove them, and are looking for a softer solution that will benefit everyone. As part of an international project, the International Climate Initiative (IKI) is supporting activities in the park.
Project timeframe: 2014 to 2018
Size of the national park: 1,000 hectares (10 square kilometers)
Location: Northwest Colombia, 70 kilometers from the Caribbean coast
Biodiversity: Critically endangered cotton-top tamarins, which can only be found in northwest Colombia; red howler monkeys; armadillos; ocelots; macaws.

Los Colorados is a tiny, paradisiacal conservation area alive with small mammals, birds, and rare monkeys such as the critically endangered cotton-top tamarin. The biggest problem facing the national park is that it is squeezed between a highway, agricultural areas and the city of San Juan Nepomuceno. More than 400 people have settled inside the park's boundaries, adding environmental stress to the area. But simply kicking people out of the park without giving them alternatives is not an option for those who work there. Preferring a more gentle approach, they are teaching teenagers the importance of plants and animals - and about their Malibú ancestors, who lived in harmony with their surroundings. They also celebrate nature at the annual Jaguar Festival, where young people dress up as jaguars, perform dances and plays. The hope is that this will raise awareness in a fun way that helps solve the conflict between humans and wildlife.

A film by Ruth Krause

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