A tiny jaguar cub sealed in a box by suspected wildlife traffickers has been rescued by airport staff.
The cute male cub – just three months old – emerged blinking from the dark, cramped wooden box at a Mexican airport after customs officials cracked it open.
Officials at Merida International Airport in Merida, in the Mexican state of Yucatan, found the cub during an operation to crack down on illegal wildlife trafficking.
Although the cub had been fitted with a microchip, it did not match the animal’s paperwork, said officials.
National Guard cops and officials from the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) confiscated the young big cat.
The jaguar is being cared for at a Wildlife Conservation Unit (UMA).
PROFEPA explained that jaguars are listed as being at risk of extinction in Mexico and are protected by national laws.
The Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categorises the Panthera onca as ‘near threatened’, with a decreasing population “due to a suspected 20 to 25 percent decline over the past three generations (21 years) in area of occupancy, extent of occurrence, and habitat quality, along with actual or potential levels of exploitation”.
The IUCN adds: “Given the inherent difficulty of assessing this species, the normally low density with which it occupies the landscape and the effects that small population and habitat degradations can have on the species, our minimum assessment of population decrease could be a significant underestimate.”
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