Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Reserve

Cockscomb Basin and Jaguar Reserve in Belize

Cockscomb Basin
Hiking in the Jaguar Preserve

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is best known as the world's first jaguar reserve, and is frequently called the Jaguar Reserve. This one-of-a-kind reserve was established in 1990 as a result of jaguar studies conducted in the area by Alan Rabinowitz in 1984 to 1986. Besides being the home to Belize’s largest cat, the Sanctuary protects the headwaters of the Swasey River, South Stann Creek River and Sitee River Systems and supports an abundance of hardwood vegetation types and a diverse faunal assemblage.

Over 128,000 acres of lush jungle are ringed by the spectacular Cockscomb Mountains. The wonders and diversity are accessible to both the casual visitor and the serious naturalist through a series of nature trails. These trails vary in degrees of difficulty ranging from an easy hour-long stroll along the river to a four day challenge of conquering Victoria Peak. The Victoria Peak trail is only accessible during the dry season.

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is home to all five of Belize’s cats: Jaguar, Puma, Margay, Jaguarundi and Ocelot. It is estimated that over 80 resident Jaguars are in the area. The preserve is believed to have the world's highest density of Jaguar as well as several other cat species.


Belize’s national animal, the endangered Baird’s Tapir also inhabit the Basin and over 290 different species of birds have been recorded. No wonder why the Jaguar Preserve is leading in bird watcher’s destination in Belize.

The visitors' entrance to the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is located at Maya Centre, which is at Mile 15 on the Southern Highway in the Stann Creek District. The Cockscomb Basin headquarters is located some 6 1/2 miles west of the visitors' entrance to the sanctuary.