Calling Jaguars to Save Them

by Alan Rabinowitz, PhD

We are in Culiacan, the largest city and capital of the state of Sinaloa, located in the center of the state. Today is May Day, and we were treated to a holiday surprise: a group of local high school students performing an elaborate and beautifully choreographed jaguar dance for us.

The dance was adapted from traditional jaguar dances of the past. But in today’s performance, the male dancers called jaguars in not to kill them, but to protect them. The young dancers’ message that we need to protect and save the jaguar was a far cry from what their parents and grandparents certainly believed.

Their passion surprised and moved me: if young people’s perceptions about nature and wildlife are changing, as this display seemed to suggest, it gives me the hope for the future.

I continue to believe that the culture of the jaguar that once permeated all ancestral indigenous groups along the Jaguar Corridor, is not gone, but is changing. With modern interpretations of ancient practices and beliefs, the Cultural Corridor continues to be an integral element of the Jaguar Corridor, inextricably linked with the geographical and biological paths that have shaped the jaguar’s past and will determine its future.

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