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Editor/Photographer : Mark Charles

 

September 18 2004

Jaguar North America expands conservation trust to protect its 'big cat'

Formed just over a year ago, the Jaguar North America-sponsored Jaguar Conservation Trust, is already expanding. After awarding grants to projects in Guatemala and Belize, the Trust - spearheaded by actress and conservationist, Stefanie Powers - is now offering funding to projects in Costa Rica that aim to preserve jaguars in the wild. Ms. Powers will spend the next few months reviewing new grant applications from non-profit organizations in the three South American countries, and make the award ceremonies planned for November 17-19. "The program's first year was extremely satisfying for myself and Jaguar, not only because of the quality the projects received, but because of the realization that there are so many people concerned with the preservation of this amazing cat," explained Ms. Powers. "Expanding our reach to Costa Rica is one more step forward in our efforts to help preserve the jaguar and its habitat," she added.

Among the grants awarded in 2003, $6,000 went to the Friends of Mayflower Bocawina National Park, in Belize. The Park will use the grand money for signs and educational information at every point of the jaguar habitat within the park. Something that does not exist today.

"That will have an immediate result. Every parking area will have signage, which will have explanations about the jaguar. That will hopefully lead to an ever-increasing understanding and appreciation of this animal," explained Ms. Powers.

For Guatemala's Center for Biodiversity, its $6,000 grant is being used to create 'Jaguar Trunks' - containers filled with locally created jaguar puppets, and puzzles and books. The Trunks are given to local schools for teachers to use in educating children on the jaguar and its habitat.

Can the Jaguar Conservation Trust make a difference? Ms. Powers thinks so. "We have to learn how to walk before we can run. And that is exactly what we are doing - taking one step at a time. We have a small amount of money, but we know that this money can make a big difference."

Ms. Powers will lead the development of the Jaguar Conservation Trust, act as advisor to Jaguar North America and help in the creation of a wide-ranging conservation program.

"Jaguar is possibly the only major corporation that has dedicated itself to the preservation of the very species from which it derives its name," explained Ms. Powers. "I'm confident this new program will have a far-reaching effect not only on jaguar preservation, but the habitat in which this remarkable animal lives."

Among her many achievements in animal protection, Ms. Powers is the co-founder and untiring supporter of the William Holden Wildlife Foundation in Kenya. She also serves on the advisory boards of three North American zoos, and is a Fellow of the Los Angeles Zoo.

Jaguar began its support of jaguar-related conservation in the mid-1980s through an initiative by Jaguar Canada. This commitment expanded the world's only jaguar sanctuary 30-fold, and safeguarded nearly 100,000 acres of tropical forest in Belize. Since then, Jaguar headquarters in the UK has donated $3 million for the construction of a state-of-the-art rainforest exhibit and breeding environment at the world-renowned Chester Zoo in the United Kingdom. In the United States, Jaguar has committed $1 million to the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo, which helps fund research and species protection programs for jaguars in the wild.

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