Figueroa has been tracking the number of jaguars that use the central corridorOmar Figueroa, Jaguar Researcher
"If you look Belize, the entire country, you have two huge conservation blocks. But in the central portion of Belize there is no connectivity, there is no corridors."
"We need to know how these cats are moving around in this landscape and with this kind of knowledge, knowing how these cats are moving around, the Belize government will be able to shape policy of how they have to deal with these jaguars."
Jules Vasquez reporting
And as what are called apex predators, jaguars are critical to understanding the state of play of the surrounding environment.
"The main reason behind using these cats is that as the apex predator they play a critical role in maintaining the structure and function of ecosystems. So when you devise a conservation policy, a natural resource policy, focused on these cats, you simultaneously protect a host of sympatric species. When you focus and you develop conservation policy, natural resource policy around this jaguar you are essentially protecting a host of other species, flora and fauna biodiversity in general."
"Then we will better be able to start to gain some educated guesses as to how many jaguars we have in this country and really where the critical areas are that we need to protect for these cats. You could protect 50% of this country but you could be protecting, half of that you don't really need to protect. It could be an erroneous plan."
And while tracking will fine tune plans, it will also tell us about this fascinating predator.
"All the large cats Jules, across this planet, have really inspired their fair share of legends of superstitions but only the jaguar has really dominated the culture and the religion of an entire continent. You could go back to as early as recorded history in South America and 5,000 year old jaguar sculptures have been unearthed from that era. You can go back 2000 years ago and there are 20 jaguar sculptures and even around us there are the Mayan times. So from a cultural perspective it is important. It is easy to reach out to people and project the jaguar as the conservation icon."
And a large part of that iconography is the enduring mystery of these predators and their deadly stealth as they traverse the country's interior.
And hopefully, some of the allure of that mystery is preserved, even as these cats are studied and probed.