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Saving the South American jaguar

April 21, 2021

Colombian cattle ranchers are trying to protect their livestock from jaguars by killing the threatened big cats. One rancher wants to show that peaceful coexistence is possible. 

A jaguar walks through the forest
As jaguar habitat shrinks, the big cats are facing dangers from cattle ranchers who see them as a threat to their livestock Image: Alianza WWF-Fundación Telmex Telcel

Protecting Colombia's jaguars

Livestock farming has a long history in Casanare, Colombia, and the Barragan family is one of the oldest llanero or cattle-herding clans in the region. They rear cattle, wrangling them on horseback, on a 17,000-hectare (42,008 acre) farm.

Casanare and the land around the Barragan ranch are also home to jaguars. The big cats need large stomping grounds to roam and hunt, and farms have eaten into tropical forest, encroaching on the animal's territory. Most cattle herders in the region see the spotted predator as a threat to their calves and foals and set up traps to kill them.

A man in a cowboy hat chasing a horse
Colombia's llanero or cowboys are coming into conflict with jaguars. The big cats attack their horses and livestock Image: Carlos Rincón/Alejandro Calderón/DW

Defying local expectations and traditions, Jorge Barragan has turned part of his farm into a private nature reserve to provide habitat for threatened jaguars. Killing them is strictly forbidden on "La Aurora" reserve. Barragan also uses income from ecotourism on the ranch to fund his conservation efforts with Panthera, an international organization dedicated to protecting wild cat species.

He hopes his work will show other cattle ranchers that peaceful coexistence with these majestic animals is possible.

Project goal: Protecting and maintaining the jaguar population on "La Aurora" nature reserve in Colombia.

Project implementation: Jorge Barragan and international conservation organization Panthera.

A film by Claudia Laszczak and Carlos Rincon