James borrell is a conservation scientist and science communicator, with a particular interest in how species adapt to changing climate.

The Jaguar

Perhaps the most Iconic image we brought home from the Amazon. I can make no apologies for the awe in which I see the greatest predators. Iconic species like the Jaguar in South America, Tiger in Asia, and Lion in Africa, in turn, may well be the saviors of hundreds if not thousands of other species.

Given the opportunity, few people (myself included) would likely pour in donations for the New Guinea Big-eared Bat, Pacific Degu or perhaps the Telefomin Cuscus. Indeed, they would be too late, as these and many others are now probably extinct. You would be forgiven for missing the headlines, there were none.

So it is the icons of conservation, emblazoned on logos, that rightly or wrongly must be ambassadors. To many the Jaguar above, taken by one of our remote camera traps in Peru earlier this year will be one of the most lasting and valuable images we brought home. Does it make you want to save the Amazon?  Should you now sign up to give £2 a month to remove any lingering guilt? Become a member of one of the many vocal conservation groups? Or rescind your custom from any organization that seems to play a part in its destruction?

I would argue, that a cheaper, more effective and ultimately longer term strategy would be education. Knowledge will stay with you for life, and by understanding the importance of places like the Amazon, they have greater value, in every sense of the word. “How do you do that” I hear you cry. Well you’re reading an article entitled ‘The Jaguar’, so you’re probably on the right track. Why not share the photo above with friends, perhaps you could arrange a school talk, or read more about the hundreds of real scientists doing real science in far flung countries around the world. Want to be more actively involved? Get in touch to find out about future research expeditions.

Forget the doom and gloom statistics and next time you hear about the iconic Jaguar, be in awe. But remember, it is just an ambassador for a mryad of wonderfully obscure and unfamiliar creatures, that we can’t afford to lose.

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*Image copyright the British Schools Exploring Society

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