Saving jaguars-saving any wildlife-means dealing with the political and social realities of the time and place in which you are working. This was never truer than with the jaguar corridor, which used public and private lands, had to be backed by national governments and local communities, and needed multinational cooperation among 18 countries spread over two continents. Since conservation is a complex mix of science, policy, social issues, and politics, the strategy for moving any such initiative forward must benefit both wildlife and the people who live with that wildlife in a particular region. Implementing the right kind of strategies would determine the success or failure of the jaguar corridor.
Conservationists are not trained in addressing critical nonscientific issues such as law enforcement. While the most effective conservation policies are rooted in good science, their implementation often takes place in a sociopolitical context that has little to do with science. There were no courses in graduate school to teach me how to address the prime minister of Belize and his cabinet, how to deal with the dictators in Myanmar, how to navigate the struggling socialist government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, or how to get every environmental minister from every jaguar-range country to officially sign off on the jaguar corridor. I might have benefited from a better understanding of forensics, psychology, economics, and business. But in the end, it was about passion, and the unwavering belief that animals needed a voice in the human world.