August 17, 2018

The Jaguar: The Essence of Guajiran Biodiversity

Bold, fast, and fearless are some of the characteristics of America’s largest feline. Its abilities do not save it from being in danger of extinction, however.

The jaguar, like other species traversing the foothills of the Serranía del Perijá and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta on a daily basis, now also roam on more than 3,700 hectares of tropical dry forest reclaimed by Cerrejón. Land on which our company, responsible for exporting nearly 40 percent of Colombian coal to worldwide destinations, previously performed open-pit mining.

Since the beginning of our operations, our coal company has promoted the recovery of tropical dry forests in La Guajira, planting around 1.6 million trees of 40 native species in the mined-out area as part of our environmental-impact mitigation process, which has contributed to the return of wildlife to the area.

Today, 47 species of mammals, including the oncilla, gray brocket deer, and southern tamandua, in addition to 223 species of birds, 95 species of butterflies and beetles, 15 of amphibians, and 30 of reptiles roam through this area. They have found a green belt and a refuge where they are not hunted and are even protected.

Between 2016 and 2017, Cerrejón recorded the presence of five jaguars, which are an indicator of the tropical dry forest ecosystem’s recovery in areas undergoing reclamation since, according to environmental experts, this species plays a significant role in its environment, their presence is fundamental to the proper functioning of the ecosystems to which they belong, and it is a guarantee of good health and food security.

Currently, the company has been working with the Sole Registry of Protected Areas (RUNAP, its acronym in Spanish) and the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development in order to have the Mushaisa–Santa Helena area decreed as a nature reserve. It will be an area for the protection and conservation of biodiversity in La Guajira, which will comprise more than 1,600 hectares sheltering 198 plant species.

Another one of the initiatives voluntarily being advanced by Cerrejón is the Sea Turtle Conservation Program in the Alta Guajira in partnership with the community of Bahía Hondita, Conservation International, the National Navy, and Corpoguajira. In seven years, this program has successfully released more than 6,400 turtles into the sea. Such has been the success of this project that, today, the community is conscious of the care and importance of this species, and is responsible for patrolling the beaches in order to monitor the turtles’ nests and protect them from indiscriminate hunting.

Traversing La Guajira and being surprised by the variety of landscapes this region offers is one of the plans for not missing the chance to travel and learn about this region, which is home to hundreds of wildlife and plant species with a large number of them in areas that today are once again tropical dry forests where there are no traces of mining.