Most visitors to Belize will want to experience the white sand beaches and the warm Caribbean water before returning home. But there is so much more to Belize than you may realize. Did you know that Belize is home to the world’s only jaguar preserve? It has become the best place to learn about the Western hemisphere’s largest big cat and the third largest in the world.
Jaguars once roamed freely in an area stretching from the southwest United States to the grasslands of central Argentina. Over the years, their range has been greatly reduced. This is mainly due to road development through crucial parts of the jungle and the burning forests by farmers to plant crops. The species has also decreased significantly in numbers because of its popularity with hunters for its teeth and skin. In addition, farmers will kill jaguars if they believe they are responsible for killing their livestock. Belize has outlawed the hunting of jaguars and has become one of the few countries that has a healthy and thriving jaguar population.
Once fairly common in mangroves, savannas, and lowland forests, jaguars in Belize are now typically found only in the protected preserves. They mostly hunt at night and are known to feast on peccaries, howler monkeys, deer, turtles, birds, lizards, and fish. Jaguars have the most powerful jaws of any big cat and can take down their prey with a single bite to the skull. They are stealthy and are not commonly seen by humans during the day, although paw prints, animal carcasses, and loud nighttime roars are evidence of their presence.
Solitary by nature, jaguars only come together to mate. Jaguar cubs reach maturity by age three and adults can weigh between 100 and 250 pounds, measure up to 6 feet and have a tail up to 30 inches long. Jaguars can be born black with inconspicuous spots beneath their fur or with the more well-known yellow with black-spot coloring.
A trip to the world-renowned Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Preserve is an opportunity to explore the jaguar’s habitat. This 150 square-mile sanctuary was established as a jaguar preserve in 1984 and is home to approximately 200 wild jaguars. The preserve’s main purposes are to provide a safe haven for this endangered animal, conserve the jaguar’s natural habitat, and educate the public.
If you’re looking for accommodations during your visit to Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Preserve, Chabil Mar in Placencia is close and convenient. Our award-winning full-service resort has luxury suites and villas surrounded by lush tropical gardens, beach views, and fine dining options.
Visit our website chabilmarvillas.com for more information on Belize, and don’t hesitate to send us an email, or call US/CAN Toll Free: 1-866-417-2377, Local: (011-501) 523-3606, if you have questions or need help in planning a Belize vacation.