By Marion Ali
The Forest Department is currently investigating the killing and alleged eating of a jaguar in Sarteneja Village Corozal this week.
The jaguar had reportedly become a nuisance to farmers and their livestock.
The killing happened on Tuesday and there are two versions being investigated. One version says that a villager who was walking his dogs pulled a machete and chopped the beast in the head after the jaguar attacked him and his dogs.
The second version suggests that the villagers had cornered the animal in a cave, which they blocked. They later killed the animal on the advice of a police officer and then reportedly ate parts of the animal for food.
The Forest Department has recovered the animal’s skin and head, but has not found the carcass.
The officer informed The Reporter that it would be a crime if any person or persons in Sarteneja participated in the killing of the jaguar if it had been trapped in a cave because it no longer posed a threat.
The officer said that at that point someone should have called the Forest Department to safely relocate the animal.
It would also be a crime if some person or persons killed the jaguar and did not report it to the department.
The officer also stressed that it would also be a criminal ffence if the villagers used the carcass for food, because all wildlife animals are the property of the state under the Wildlife Protection Act, Chapter 220, Revised Edition 2000, Section 5, subsection (2).
The department is also trying to confirm reports that the jaguar was the mother of a cub that is now left to fend for itself in the wild.
The Reporter has confirmed that the Forest Department received three reports about the jaguar roaming around the village and killing farm animals for food. Those reports were made on March 22, March 26 and July 11 and on two of the occasions (the ones in March) the department visited the area but found no trace of a jaguar or any evidence that farm animals were being killed.
The forest officer reportedly advised the villagers to protect their livestock by putting them in a pen at night, especially small calves, pigs and sheep and to have safer corrals that would be more difficult for a predator to enter to get to the the livestock
. The officer said that jaguars that attack farm animals normally do so because they have been injured and are unable to hunt well.
The Forest Department is now reviewing the details of the incident before it decides what measures it will take, if any, against the people who may have killed the jaguar.