Leonardo DiCaprio saves critically endangered Jaguar from extinction in Argentina
A historic day for DiCaprio Foundation and Tompkins Conservation’s rewilding efforts, as it marks the arrival of two new jaguar cubs in Iberá Park, situated in the wetlands of northeastern Argentina.
These two new cubs are not only the first newborns from CLT Jaguar Reintroduction Program at Iberá Park, but represent the first jaguars born in decades in this region, where the species has been absent since the industrialization of the 20th century.
The jaguar is the largest and one of the most iconic felines in the Americas, but hunting, habitat loss, and other threats left the species in danger of extinction in Argentina. Having lost 95% of their original distribution, it is currently estimated that only some 200 individuals remain in Argentina, distributed mainly in isolated patches of the jungles of Misiones province and in the mountain slope forests (“yungas”) of Salta and Jujuy provinces.
The two new cubs are offspring of two of the program’s jaguar on loan from partnering institutions: Chiqui, the father, was born in the wild but lived in a rescue center after being orphaned by a hunter; Tania, the mother, came to the center after being born and raised in a zoo. It is notable that Tania is missing a leg from an incident she endured when she was just a cub. Despite this disability, she has learned to hunt for herself since joining the Jaguar Reintroduction Program and is now the mother of the first cubs born in Iberá in approximately half a century.
In the words of Maite Ríos, the head of the Jaguar Reintroduction Program, “It’s great news that an animal with a disability and that seemed condemned to life in captivity, like Tania, is able not only to live in semi-natural conditions and hunt for herself, but to become the mother of the first cubs that could possibly live freely in Iberá soon.
Tania’s history of overcoming obstacles inspires us to keep working and collaborating with other institutions to care for and restore the heritage of all inhabitants of Corrientes province and of Argentina. For the moment, we see that the cubs are suckling well from their mother, but we must be very prudent because we’re talking about a first-time mother who must still learn to raise her brood on her own, without interference on the part of humans. With a view to being able to free them, it’s very important for these tiny jaguars to grow up in the most natural manner possible.”
“This is a historic moment for Iberá and the rest of Argentina, as we see how our most endangered mammal, an emblem of our country, takes a step towards its recovery.