The jaguar may be on a path to extinction. A new report from Brazil finds that the once large jaguar population in Brazil’s enormous Mata Atlantic (Atlantic Tropical Forest) ecosystem has declined by 80% over the past 15 years to just 50 animals of reproductive age. Deforestation and ranching are shrinking the Brazilian jaguar’s habitat and driving its decline.
Coffee can play an important role in preserving jaguar habitat. Jaguar Forest coffee is grown on the fringes of the Ecotriunfo Reserve in Chiapas, where a substantial population of jaguars still live. Because the coffee is grown organically in the forest under the canopy of large native trees, the native animals of the zone can coexist with coffee production. Shade coffee forests maintain critical pathways to jaguar populations in other areas. These pathways link jaguar populations, enabling them to maintain the genetic diversity to survive.
Nearby areas not involved with shade-grown coffee production have been clearcut logged and are now used for cattle ranching, Jaguars can’t hunt in them.
We are now in the midst of a massive extinction event caused by human activity. (The last extinction occurred sixty-six million years ago when a massive asteroid struck the Yucutan Penisula. It killed the dinosaurs.) Thousands of species are dying off every year now, the victims of habitat destruction, hunting, spread of pathogens, and other changes to their environment. A massive exterminationof our fellow animals on Spaceship Earth is under way. Wonderful survivors of five hundred million years of evolution are gone, never to return.
The tropical forest regions in Southern Mexico are some of the planet’s most biodiverse. 10% of all the unique species live in a small chain of forests from Oaxaca to Panama.
Maintaining the survival of our fellow animals on planet earth is mankind’s most pressing responsibility. We are collectively poorer every time a species vanishes. The fate of critical species such as jaguars should not solely be the responsibility of poor farmers in Mexico trying to scratch out a living. One small way that U.S. consumers can help is to buy shade-grown organic coffee from regions where the jaguar lives. Your purchase supports the farmers who maintain jaguar habitat, and keeps them from selling their land to the loggers and cattle ranchers who are willing to pay a good price for it.
Our long term goal is to expand jaguar habitat. If we can make shade-grown organic coffee from Mexico one of the world’s most loved drinks, we can bring back the forest from areas now being used for cattle ranching, and expand habitat for thousands of threatened species.