An integral part of conserving jaguars is safeguarding their habitats. In some parts of their range, this includes tropical rain forests. But these forests are rapidly disappearing (Whitworth, Downie, von May, Villacampa, & MacLeod, 2016). But while this is cause for immediate action, it is not cause for despair. A recent study suggests that under the right conditions, even clear-cut tropical rain forests can recover (Whitworth et al., 2016; Greenspan, 2016).
Whitworth et al. (2016) carried out extensive surveys in Peru’s Manu Biosphere Reserve, which I have written about before. They found that regenerating (secondary) forest areas contained 87% of the known species in uncut (primary) patches. This included multiple species of conservation concern; such as the short-eared dog (Atelocynus microtis), giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus), and maybe even a new frog species (Greenspan, 2016).
The Whitworth et al. (2016) study detected higher levels of biodiversity than in many other examinations of secondary rain forests. This is likely because of the characteristics of the Manu Biosphere Reserve. Many areas have been regenerating for over 30 years, hunting and logging have been banned for 11 years, and there are nearby sections of primary forest from which species can migrate (Whitworth et al., 2016; Greenspan, 2016). The Crees Foundation is also skilled at including local communities in conservation through education and sustainable development, which might help (Crees Foundation, 2015b).
These results offer hope for the future. They show that when conditions are right, heavily degraded tropical rain forests can recover. So while conserving the remaining stretches of primary rain forest is the top priority, it is also worthwhile to protect secondary rain forests (Whitworth et al., 2016).
Lastly, I doubt this will be the last time I write about Manu. The more I learn about it, the more I want to know about it.
Greenspan, J. (2016, March 28). Good news: A clear-cut Rain Forest can Have a Second Life. Scientific American. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/good-news-a-clear-cut-rain-forest-can-have-a-second-life/.
Whitworth, A., Downie, R., von May, R., Villacampa, J., & MacLeod, R. (2016). How much potential biodiversity and conservation value can a regenerating rainforest provide? A ‘best-case scenario’ approach from the Peruvian Amazon. Tropical Conservation Science, 9(1), 224-245. Retrieved from http://tropicalconservationscience.mongabay.com/content/v9/tcs_v9i1_224-245_Whitworth.pdf.