Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Q&A with jaguar advocate -- and jag critical habitat opponent -- Alan Rabinowitz

“You don’t know how frustrated I am,” says Alan Rabinowitz, the world-renowned jaguar biologist and protector who opposes U.S. government designation of jaguar critical habitat in Southern Arizona. “I don’t like being on side of people fighting wildliands and wild spaces. "But the worst thing is when the other side says environmentalists will do anything to get what they want. If I don’t go by the science of this issue, that is lending credence to this argument. This is what the data shows, that this is not critical habitat.” But Rabinowitz’s critics in the environmental community say that designating at least 838,000 acres of Southern Arizona as jaguar critical habitat fits the best science, and with the Endangered Species Act’s definition of species recovery. In addition, Earth First! maintains that Rabinowitz is tainted by the fact that a mining company executive, Thomas Kaplan, is Panthera’s board chairman and helped found the group in 2006. Panthera’s web page describes Kaplan as “a passionate environmentalist and supporter of wildlife conservation.” Rabinowitz, CEO of the big cat conservation group Panthera, has spent much of his career fighting to protect a corridor for jaguars from South America into Mexico, and to create a jaguar preserve in Belize, in Central America. He hinges much of his argument against critical habitat in Arizona on his view that Arizona doesn’t have a resident jaguar population anymore. He says that if the few jaguars seen here since the 1970s were to be the last ones ever seen, it wouldn’t have a big effect on the species as a whole. He doesn’t doubt that Arizona at one time had a resident jaguar population, about a century ago. He also agrees with critical habitat supporters that it’s possible that this state could someday host a resident jaguar population, although he adds that it will probably take reintroducing of the large cats to bring that about...more

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