- Press Release, Belize Wildlife Conservation Network, July 17, 2012 - On Saturday, July 14, 2012, the Belize Wildlife Conservation Network (BWCN) was alerted to a black jaguar in distress at Ballum Na Lodge in the Punta Gorda area. Wil Maheia, a BWCN member and well known Belizean conservationist, had been able to gain access to the jaguar, named Bosch, and he attempted to provide him with food. During this time he was able to take a photograph of the animal and the condition of the jaguar in the photograph made it clear to the BWCN that urgent action was required.
There were also suspicions that other animals may be on the property or may have recently died. Working closely with the Belize Forest Department, it was decided that due to the location of the animal, the most urgent issue was to have the jaguar and any other animals on the property assessed and, if necessary, provided with food and fresh water.
Ian Morton, a BWCN volunteer, in the Punta Gorda area was able to view Bosch on the morning of Sunday, July 15. He discovered that only one jaguar, Bosch, was on the property. He took further reports that another jaguar had recently died but could get little information about any other animals. During this time, he was able to take photographs to document the condition of the jaguar as well as ensure that food and fresh water was available. He immediately reported back to the BWCN with his observations and photographs.
Soon after, efforts were underway to develop a rescue strategy for Bosch with BWCN volunteers and the Belize Forest Department. Dr. Isabelle Paquet Durand, wildlife specialist from the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic in Cayo, was able to provide Mr. Morton with clear advice on providing a specially prepared feed, containing vitamin supplements, to assist Bosch and prevent further deterioration in his condition until she would be able to assess him personally. Mr. Morton visited Bosch again on Monday, July 16, to make sure he received the diet recommended by Dr. Paquet Durand.
At this time it was also brought to the attention of the BWCN that another conservation group, Ya’ axche Conservation Trust, had observed and photographed a dead jaguar at the same site on Friday, January 13, confirming previous reports of a jaguar death.
On Tuesday, July 17, the Belize Forest Department Wildlife Officers, accompanied by Dr. Paquet Durand, left Cayo at 4a.m. to make their way to Ballum Na Lodge in Punta Gorda, where a full veterinary assessment was made. While the BWCN had every hope Bosch could have been removed from his current situation today, his condition is too poor to attempt to move him at this time. Arrangements have been made to ensure he will receive the care that he needs this week and he will be closely monitored in the hope that he will be fit for travel by Friday, July 20. The BWCN very much appreciate the support and well wishes from the community for Bosch’s quick recovery and want to assure the public that everything possible is being done to have a positive outcome. The BWCN will, of course, provide updates on Bosch’s progress.
BWCN has been working on creating a nationwide network of volunteers called the Wildlife Emergency Response Team (WERT). Although WERT is not fully operational, BWCN is proud that it could already call on volunteers to spring into action to deal with such an urgent and serious wildlife issue. BWCN has also been collaborating closely with the Belize Forest Department to update wildlife laws and develop guidelines to prevent cases like this happening in future.
If anybody would like more information on how to become a WERT volunteer or how you can assist wildlife in Belize, please contact BWCN at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a wildlife emergency or would like to report a wild animal in distress, please contact the Belize Forest Department on 802-1524.