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Beautiful jaguars making comeback in Iberá

Special Interest Programme / Partner story

Photo credit: Miranda Volpe / Rewilding Argentina

A couple months after being born, two jaguar cubs are welcomed in Iberá National Park – a protected portion of the vast wetlands in Northeast Argentina’s Corrientes Province – where they will be prepared for release.

It is here in Iberá where the cubs will temporarily stay before being released into the wild alongside their mother, Mbarete, to help reestablish the species and combat biodiversity loss. With the cubs’ increased genetic diversity, for instance, following the introduction of Mbarete to one of the last wild male jaguars in the region, they will join eight jaguars already reintroduced since last year and augment the local gene pool.

All of this is part of a joint effort to restore the jaguar population in Argentina’s Iberá Wetlands, which had been, until recently, considered locally extinct for nearly seven decades.

Leading the initiative is Rewilding Argentina, a not-for-profit Argentine organisation created to confront and reverse the biodiversity crisis, and its own Jaguar Reintroduction Center, a one-of-a-kind programme located on San Alonso Island in the Iberá wetlands dedicated to breeding jaguar cubs so that they may be freed into the wild. Together, they have been working with the national government, the province of Corrientes, and the National Parks Administration, as well as teams of park rangers, veterinarians, and biologists.  

The jaguar reintroduction project was recently applauded by Juan Cabandié, Argentina’s Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development, who expressed his “great pride” in the work of all those participating in the recovery of the great American cat “on behalf of biodiversity and also our culture”.

Indeed, it is historic because the project is the first ever to reintroduce the jaguar – the largest big cat species in the Americas and third largest on the planet – into an environment where they have gone extinct.  

It is part of an effort called ‘rewilding’, which means restoring ecological interactions to recuperate fully functional ecosystems. To achieve this, Rewilding Argentina reintroduces missing species and supplements populations of threatened ones. The story of Mbarete and her cubs is a culmination of this effort, and it is one of many happening across four projects throughout Argentina led by the organisation.

But the vision is broader: Rewilding Argentina also works with local communities around the parks to develop an economy that brings prosperity for people and wildlife. You can read more about rewilding – and how pampas deer, giant anteaters, giant river otters, red and green macaws, collared peccaries, and bare-faced curassows are all part of this restoration – here

This grant falls under Oak Foundation’s Special Interest Programme, which covers a wide range of fields, including environment, health, humanitarian relief, education, and the arts. You can find out more about the programme and its strategy by clicking here. Find out more about Rewilding Argentina here, and see this great video of the newly born cubs here. You can also learn more about Rewilding Argentina’s great work in Iberá, as well as other regions including Gran Chaco, Patagonia, and the Argentine Sea, by watching the video here.