Illegal jaguar Trade has raised serious concern for the conservation of the species with reports of international trafficking and the existence of active domestic markets for its body parts, said a report of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Floral (CITES).
In the study, CITES looked into illegal trade in the jaguar throughout its range that stretches from the south-western United States to northern Argentina across 19 countries. It went into the details regarding uses of Jaguar specimens, both domestically and in international markets, reviewed the methods employed by actors involved in illegal trade and the possible drivers associated with it, and overall impact on its populations. It also analysed the extent to which illegally sourced jaguar products are entering international trade.
CITES is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure than international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species.
The report finds trafficking in at least four geographical routes of repeated instances;
1) from range countries to the United States (53 records).
2) from range countries to the European Union (8 records)
3) from the United States to the European Union and vice versa (5 records)
4) from range countries to China, by way of Europe (3 records)
Meanwhile, CITES Secretary General Ivonne Higuero said that illegal trade at the domestic and international levels has once again become a concern for jaguar conservation nearly five decades after listing of the species under CITES Appendix in 1975. Higuero said that the news was not good and needed a concerted response from CITES Parties.
All range States are to coordinate and work together to ensure proper enforcement, and to establish information sharing systems to document detect and deter this major threat, the secretary general said,
- While most range States acted as source or destination countries of illegal international shipments of jaguar specimens at one point in time, only Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia Mexico Peru, Suriname and Venezuela had confirmed government evidence of recent international trade. Overall, the governments of jaguar range countries held very limited information about poaching and illegal trade in jaguars within their territories
- Though referred to an important international market for jaguar body parts by the media, there is limited seizure evidence on the illegal trade in jaguars in China Based on the UNODC’s World WISE Database, China was identified as the destination country in just three out of 76 (4%) seizures involving illegal international trade in jaguar bo dy parts, involving less than 10 specimens.
- With the exception of Bolivia, nearly all the information presented by the government involved domestic demand for jaguar specimens and so did 70% of reports.
- Almost all jaguar body parts, particularly jaguar teeth, skins, skulls and fat have decorative, medicinal and other functional uses at the domestic level. Teeth are likely used as status -granting collectibles and souvenirs, while products like jaguar paste have alleged medicinal properties, though their use in China remains unconfirmed.
- The illegal trade in jaguar body parts has been associated with multiple drivers, including domestic demand for jaguar body parts and local livelihoods, human -jaguar conflict, financial incentives, foreign demand for jaguar body parts, tourism -related demand, illegal pet trade and private wildlife collections and illegal trophy hunting.
- The poaching of jaguars, and the subsequent illegal trade in jaguar body parts, is largely opportunistic and undertaken by marginalised individuals who are often unaware of the legal consequences of their actions.
- Traffickers are also taking advantage of online platforms to advertise products and to consolidate larger illegal trade networks and consumer bases.
- A collaborative effort is needed between governments, civil society, academia and communities to build a robust monitoring system for jaguar populations and their threats.
- Decisive actions are needed to increase jaguar protection, and to translate existing international and national jaguar conservation commitments into effective actions with measurable impacts on the ground.
- Jaguar conservation and the elimination of illegal trade in jaguars will not be achieved through enforcement alone. Governments, relevant stakeholders, and local communities must work together and focus on building socially just, participatory and evidence based strategies to safeguard jaguars from anthropogenic threats and guarantee their survival into the future.
The CITES Standing Committee will consider the findings of the study on the illegal trade in jaguars at its 74th meeting (March 2022) and make recommendations as appropriate for consideration at the 19th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES, to be held in Panama from 14 to 25 November 2022