The jaguar (
Panthera onca), is a wild cat species and the only extant
member of the genus
Panthera native to the Americas. The jaguar's
present range extends from
Southwestern United States
Southwestern United States and Mexico
across much of
Central America and south to
Paraguay and northern
Argentina. Though there are single cats now living within the western
United States, the species has largely been extirpated from the United
States since the early 20th century. It is listed as Near Threatened
on the IUCN Red List; and its numbers are declining. Threats include
loss and fragmentation of habitat.
The jaguar is the largest cat species in the
Americas and the
third-largest after the tiger and the lion. This spotted cat closely
resembles the leopard, but is usually larger and sturdier. It ranges
across a variety of forested and open terrains, but its preferred
habitat is tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forest, swamps and
wooded regions. The jaguar enjoys swimming and is largely a solitary,
opportunistic, stalk-and-ambush predator at the top of the food chain.
As a keystone species it plays an important role in stabilizing
ecosystems and regulating prey populations.
While international trade in jaguar or its body parts is prohibited,
the cat is still frequently killed, particularly in conflicts with
ranchers and farmers in South America. Although reduced, its range
remains large. Given its historical distribution, the jaguar has
featured prominently in the mythology of numerous indigenous American
cultures, including those of the Maya and Aztec.
4.1 Color variation
5 Distribution and habitat
6 Ecology and behavior
6.1 Ecological role
6.2 Reproduction and life cycle
6.3 Social activity
6.4 Hunting and diet
Jaguar Conservation Units
8.3 The United States
9 In mythology and culture
9.1 Pre-Columbian Americas
9.2 Contemporary culture
11 Further reading
12 External links
The word 'jaguar' is thought to derive from the Tupian word yaguara,
meaning "beast of prey". The word entered English presumably via
the Amazonian trade language Tupinambá, via Portuguese jaguar.
The specific word for jaguar is yaguareté, with the suffix -eté
meaning "real" or "true".
The word 'panther' derives from classical Latin panthēra, itself from
the ancient Greek pánthēr (πάνθηρ). The Greek pan-
(πάν), meaning "all", and thēr (θήρ), meaning "prey" bears the
meaning of "predator of all animals". Use of the word for a beast
originated in antiquity in the Orient, probably from India to Persia
In Mexican Spanish, its nickname is el tigre: 16th century Spaniards
had no native word in their language for the jaguar, which is smaller
than a lion, but bigger than a leopard, nor had ever encountered it in
the Old World, and so named it after the tiger, since its ferocity
would have been known to them through Roman writings and popular
literature during the Renaissance.
Onca is the Portuguese onça, with the cedilla dropped for
typographical reasons, found in English as ounce for the snow leopard,
Panthera uncia. It derives from the Latin lyncea lynx, with the letter
L confused with the definite article (Italian lonza, Old French
Fossil skull of a
North American jaguar
North American jaguar (
The jaguar is the only extant
New World member of the genus Panthera.
DNA analysis shows the lion, tiger, leopard, jaguar, snow
leopard, and clouded leopard share a common ancestor, and that this
group is between six and ten million years old; the fossil record
points to the emergence of
Panthera just two to 3.8 million years
Panthera are thought to have evolved in Asia. The
jaguar is thought to have diverged from a common ancestor of the
Panthera species at least 1.5 million years ago and to have entered
the American continent in the Early
Pleistocene via Beringia, the land
bridge that once spanned the Bering Strait. Results of jaguar
DNA analysis indicates that the species' lineage evolved
between 280,000 and 510,000 years ago.
Phylogenetic studies generally have shown the clouded leopard
Neofelis nebulosa) is basal to this group. The
position of the remaining species varies between studies and is
Based on morphological evidence, British zoologist Reginald Innes
Pocock concluded the jaguar is most closely related to the
DNA evidence is inconclusive and the position of
the jaguar relative to the other species varies between
studies. Fossils of extinct
Panthera species, such as
European jaguar (
Panthera gombaszoegensis) and the American lion
Panthera atrox), show characteristics of both the lion and the
Carl Linnaeus described the jaguar in his work Systema
Naturae and gave it the scientific name
Felis onca. In the 19th
and 20th centuries, several jaguar type specimens formed the basis for
descriptions of subspecies. In 1939, Reginald Innes Pocock
recognized eight subspecies based on geographic origins and skull
morphology of these specimens. Pocock did not have access to
sufficient zoological specimens to critically evaluate their
subspecific status, but expressed doubt about the status of several.
Later consideration of his work suggested only three subspecies should
be recognized. The description of P. o. palustris was based on a
fossil skull. The author of
Species of the World listed
nine subspecies and both P. o. palustris or P. o. paraguensis
Results of morphologic and genetic research indicate a clinal
north–south variation between populations, but no evidence for
subspecific differentiation. A subsequent, more detailed study
confirmed the predicted population structure within jaguar populations
IUCN Red List
IUCN Red List assessors for the species and the
Taskforce of the
Cat Specialist Group
Cat Specialist Group do not recognize any jaguar
subspecies as valid. The following table is based on the
classification of the species provided in
Species of the
Formerly recognised subspecies
P. o. onca (Linnaeus, 1758)
Peruvian jaguar (P. o. peruviana) (De Blainville, 1843)
Pantanal jaguar (P. o. palustris) or Paraguayan jaguar (P. o.
paraguensis) (Nelson and Goldman, 1933)
Venezuela to the Amazon rainforest, coastal Peru, the
Pantanal regions of
Mato Grosso and
Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, along
Paraguay River into
Paraguay and northeastern Argentina
South American jaguar
South American jaguar at Piquiri River,
Mato Grosso state,
P. o. hernandesii (Gray, 1857)
Central American jaguar (P. o. centralis) (Mearns, 1901)
Arizona jaguar (P. o. arizonensis) (Goldman, 1932)
P. o. goldmani (Goldman, 1932)
P. o. veraecrucis (Nelson and Goldman, 1933)
Central and North America: Colombia, Guatemala, Belize,
El Salvador to
Mexico and southern Arizona,
United States of
El Jefe in Arizona, the
United States of America
The head of the jaguar is robust and the jaw extremely powerful. The
size of jaguars tends to increase the farther south they are located.
The jaguar, a compact and well-muscled animal, is the largest cat in
New World and the largest carnivorous mammal in Central and South
America. Its coat is generally a tawny yellow, but ranges to
reddish-brown, for most of the body. The ventral areas are white.
The fur is covered with rosettes for camouflage in the dappled light
of its forest habitat. The spots and their shapes vary between
individual jaguars: rosettes may include one or several dots. The
spots on the head and neck are generally solid, as are those on the
tail, where they may merge to form a band. Forest jaguars are
frequently darker and considerably smaller than those in open areas,
possibly due to the smaller numbers of large, herbivorous prey in
Its size and weight vary considerably: weights are normally in the
range of 56–96 kg (123–212 lb). Larger males have been
recorded to weigh as much as 158 kg (348 lb) The
smallest females weigh about 36 kg (79 lb). Females are
typically 10–20 percent smaller than males. The length, from the
nose to the base of the tail, varies from 1.12 to 1.85 m (3.7 to
6.1 ft). The tail is the shortest of any big cat, at 45 to
75 cm (18 to 30 in) in length. Legs are also short,
but thick and powerful, considerably shorter when compared to a small
tiger or lion in a similar weight range. The jaguar stands 63 to
76 cm (25 to 30 in) tall at the shoulders. Compared to
the similarly colored leopard, the jaguar is bigger, heavier and
relatively stocky in build.
Further variations in size have been observed across regions and
habitats, with size tending to increase from north to south. Jaguars
Chamela-Cuixmala Biosphere Reserve
Chamela-Cuixmala Biosphere Reserve on the Mexican Pacific coast
weighed just about 50 kg (110 lb), about the size of a
female cougar. Jaguars in
Brazil are much larger with
average weights of about 95 kg (209 lb) in males and of
about 56–78 kg (123–172 lb) in females. In the
Brazilian Pantanal, weights of 136 kg (300 lb) or more are
not uncommon in old males. The highest recorded weight was
148 kg (326 lb) of a jaguar with an empty stomach.
A short and stocky limb structure makes the jaguar adept at climbing,
crawling, and swimming. The head is robust and the jaw extremely
powerful, it has the third highest bite force of all felids, after the
tiger and lion. A 100 kg (220 lb) jaguar can bite with a
force of 503.6 kgf (1,110 lbf) at canine teeth
and705.8 kgf (1,556 lbf) at carnassial notch. This
allows it to pierce the shells of armored reptiles and turtles. A
comparative study of bite force adjusted for body size ranked it as
the top felid, alongside the clouded leopard and ahead of the tiger
and lion. It has been reported that "an individual jaguar can drag
an 800 lb (360 kg) bull 25 ft (7.6 m) in its jaws
and pulverize the heaviest bones".
While the jaguar closely resembles the leopard, it is sturdier and
heavier, and the two animals can be distinguished by their rosettes:
the rosettes on a jaguar's coat are larger, fewer in number, usually
darker, and have thicker lines and small spots in the middle that the
leopard lacks. Jaguars also have rounder heads and shorter, stockier
limbs compared to leopards.
A melanistic jaguar is a color morph which occurs at about 6 percent
frequency in populations.
Color morphism occurs in the species. A near-black melanistic form
occurs regularly. Jaguars with melanism appear entirely black,
although their spots are still visible on close examination.
The black morph is less common than the spotted form, but at about six
percent of the population, it is several orders of magnitude above
the mutation rate. Hence, it is being supported by selection. Some
evidence indicates the melanism allele is dominant. The black form
may be an example of heterozygote advantage; breeding in captivity is
not yet conclusive on this. Melanistic jaguars (or “black”
jaguars) occur primarily in parts of South America, and are virtually
unknown in wild populations residing in the subtropical and temperate
regions of North America; they have never been documented north of
Mexico’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
Melanistic jaguars are informally known as black panthers, but (as
with all forms of polymorphism) they do not form a separate species.
Extremely rare albino individuals, sometimes called white panthers,
also occur among jaguars, as with the other big cats. As usual
with albinos in the wild, selection keeps the frequency close to the
rate of mutation.
Distribution and habitat
The jaguar inhabits a variety of forested and open habitat, but is
strongly associated with the presence of water.
At present, the jaguar's range extends from
Mexico through Central
America to South America, including much of Amazonian Brazil. The
countries included in this range are Argentina, Belize, Bolivia,
Colombia, Costa Rica (particularly on the Osa Peninsula), Ecuador,
French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama,
Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, the
United States and Venezuela. It is now
locally extinct in
El Salvador and Uruguay.
The jaguar has been an American cat since crossing the Bering Land
Bridge during the
Pleistocene epoch; the immediate ancestor of modern
Panthera onca augusta, which was larger than the
contemporary cat. It occurs in the 400 km² Cockscomb Basin
Wildlife Sanctuary in Belize, the 5,300 km²
Sian Ka'an Biosphere
Reserve in Mexico, the approximately 15,000 km2 Manú National
Park in Peru, the approximately 26,000 km2
Xingu National Park
Xingu National Park in
Brazil, and numerous other reserves throughout its range.
The inclusion of the
United States in the list is based on occasional
sightings in the southwest, particularly in Arizona, New Mexico
and Texas. In the early 20th century, the jaguar's range extended as
far north as the
Grand Canyon and possibly Colorado, and as far west
as Monterey in Northern California. The jaguar is a
protected species in the
United States under the Endangered Species
Act, which has stopped the shooting of the animal for its pelt. In
1996 and from 2004 on, hunting guides and wildlife officials in
Arizona photographed and documented jaguars in the southern part of
the state. Between 2004 and 2007, two or three jaguars have been
reported by researchers around Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge
in southern Arizona. One of them, called 'Macho B', had been
previously photographed in 1996 in the area. For any permanent
population in the USA to thrive, protection from killing, an adequate
prey base, and connectivity with Mexican populations are
essential. In February 2009, a 53.5 kg (118 lb) jaguar
was caught, radio-collared and released in an area southwest of
Tucson, Arizona; this is farther north than had previously been
expected and represents a sign there may be a permanent breeding
population of jaguars within southern Arizona. The animal was later
confirmed to be indeed the same male individual ('Macho B') that was
photographed in 2004. On 2 March 2009, Macho B was recaptured and
euthanized after he was found to be suffering from kidney failure; the
animal was thought to be 16 years old, older than any known wild
Completion of the United States–
Mexico barrier as currently proposed
will reduce the viability of any population currently residing in the
United States, by reducing gene flow with Mexican populations, and
prevent any further northward expansion for the species.
The historic range of the species included much of the southern half
of the United States, and in the south extended much farther to cover
most of the South American continent. In total, its northern range has
receded 1,000 km (621 mi) southward and its southern range
2,000 km (1243 mi) northward. Ice age fossils of the jaguar,
dated between 40,000 and 11,500 years ago, have been discovered in the
United States, including some at an important site as far north as
Fossil evidence shows jaguars of up to 190 kg
(420 lb), much larger than the contemporary average for the
The habitat of the cat includes the rain forests of South and Central
America, open, seasonally flooded wetlands, and dry grassland terrain.
Of these habitats, the jaguar much prefers dense forest; the cat
has lost range most rapidly in regions of drier habitat, such as the
Argentine pampas, the arid grasslands of Mexico, and the southwestern
United States. The cat will range across tropical, subtropical, and
dry deciduous forests (including, historically, oak forests in the
United States). The jaguar prefers to live by rivers, swamps, and in
dense rainforest with thick cover for stalking prey. Jaguars have been
found at elevations as high as 3,800 m, but they typically avoid
montane forest and are not found in the high plateau of central Mexico
or in the Andes. The jaguars preferred habitats are usually swamps
and wooded regions, but jaguars also live in scrublands and
Ecology and behavior
The adult jaguar is an apex predator, meaning it exists at the top of
its food chain and is not preyed on in the wild. The jaguar has also
been termed a keystone species, as it is assumed, through controlling
the population levels of prey such as herbivorous and granivorous
mammals, apex felids maintain the structural integrity of forest
systems. However, accurately determining what effect species
like the jaguar have on ecosystems is difficult, because data must be
compared from regions where the species is absent as well as its
current habitats, while controlling for the effects of human activity.
It is accepted that mid-sized prey species undergo population
increases in the absence of the keystone predators, and this has been
hypothesized to have cascading negative effects. However, field
work has shown this may be natural variability and the population
increases may not be sustained. Thus, the keystone predator hypothesis
is not accepted by all scientists.
The jaguar also has an effect on other predators. The jaguar and the
cougar, the next-largest feline of the Americas, are often sympatric
(related species sharing overlapping territory) and have often been
studied in conjunction. Where sympatric with the jaguar, the cougar is
smaller than normal and is smaller than the local jaguars. The jaguar
tends to take larger prey, usually over 22 kg (49 lb) and
the cougar smaller, usually between 2 and 22 kg (4.4 and
48.5 lb), reducing the latter's size. This situation may
be advantageous to the cougar. Its broader prey niche, including its
ability to take smaller prey, may give it an advantage over the jaguar
in human-altered landscapes; while both are classified as
near-threatened species, the cougar has a significantly larger current
Reproduction and life cycle
4-month-old cub at the Salzburg Zoo
Jaguar females reach sexual maturity at about two years of age, and
males at three or four. The cat is believed to mate throughout the
year in the wild, although births may increase when prey is
plentiful. Research on captive male jaguars supports the
year-round mating hypothesis, with no seasonal variation in semen
traits and ejaculatory quality; low reproductive success has also been
observed in captivity. Female estrus is 6–17 days out of a full
37-day cycle, and females will advertise fertility with urinary scent
marks and increased vocalization. Both sexes will range more
widely than usual during courtship.
Pairs separate after mating, and females provide all parenting. The
gestation period lasts 93–105 days; females give birth to up to four
cubs, and most commonly to two. The mother will not tolerate the
presence of males after the birth of cubs, given a risk of
infanticide; this behavior is also found in the tiger.
The young are born blind, gaining sight after two weeks. Cubs are
weaned at three months, but remain in the birth den for six months
before leaving to accompany their mother on hunts. They will
continue in their mother's company for one to two years before leaving
to establish a territory for themselves. Young males are at first
nomadic, jostling with their older counterparts until they succeed in
claiming a territory. Typical lifespan in the wild is estimated at
around 12–15 years; in captivity, the jaguar lives up to 23 years,
placing it among the longest-lived cats.
Cameron Park Zoo
Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas
Like most cats, the jaguar is solitary outside mother–cub groups.
Adults generally meet only to court and mate (though limited
noncourting socialization has been observed anecdotally) and carve
out large territories for themselves. Female territories, which range
from 25 to 40 km2 in size, may overlap, but the animals generally
avoid one another. Male ranges cover roughly twice as much area,
varying in size with the availability of game and space, and do not
overlap. The territory of a male can contain those of several
females. The jaguar uses scrape marks, urine, and feces to
mark its territory.
Like the other big cats, the jaguar is capable of roaring and
does so to warn territorial and mating competitors away; intensive
bouts of counter-calling between individuals have been observed in the
wild. Their roar often resembles a repetitive cough, and they may
also vocalize mews and grunts.
Mating fights between males occur,
but are rare, and aggression avoidance behavior has been observed in
the wild. When it occurs, conflict is typically over territory: a
male's range may encompass that of two or three females, and he will
not tolerate intrusions by other adult males.
The jaguar is often described as nocturnal, but is more specifically
crepuscular (peak activity around dawn and dusk). Both sexes hunt, but
males travel farther each day than females, befitting their larger
territories. The jaguar may hunt during the day if game is available
and is a relatively energetic feline, spending as much as 50–60
percent of its time active. The jaguar's elusive nature and the
inaccessibility of much of its preferred habitat make it a difficult
animal to sight, let alone study.
Hunting and diet
The jaguar has an exceptionally powerful bite that allows it to pierce
the shells of armored prey
Like all cats, the jaguar is an obligate carnivore, feeding only on
meat. It is an opportunistic hunter and its diet encompasses at least
87 species. It employ an unusual killing method: it bites directly
through the skull of prey between the ears to deliver a fatal bite to
the brain. The jaguar can take virtually any terrestrial or
riparian vertebrate found in Central or South America, except for
large crocodilians such as black caiman. The jaguar is more of a
dietary generalist than its Old World cousins: the American tropics
have a high diversity of small animals but relatively low populations
and diversity of the large ungulates which this genus favors. They
regularly take adult caimans, except for black caimans, deer,
capybaras, tapirs, peccaries, dogs, zorros, and sometimes even
anacondas. However, it preys on any small species available,
including frogs, mice, birds (mainly ground-based species such as
cracids), fish, sloths, monkeys, and turtles. A study conducted in
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary in
Belize revealed that the diet of
jaguars there consisted primarily of armadillos and pacas. Some
jaguars will also take domestic livestock. El Jefe, one of the few
jaguars that were reported in the United States, has also been
found to kill and eat American black bears, as deduced from hairs
found within his scats and the partly consumed carcass of a black bear
sow with the distinctive puncture marks to the skull left by jaguars.
This indicates that jaguars might have once preyed on black bears when
the species was still present in the area.
Spectacled bears are also
known to avoid jaguars, possibly because they may constitute
occasional prey items.
There is evidence that jaguars in the wild consume the roots of
While the jaguar often employs the deep throat-bite and suffocation
technique typical among Panthera, it sometimes uses a killing method
unique amongst cats: it pierces directly through the temporal bones of
the skull between the ears of prey (especially the capybara) with its
canine teeth, piercing the brain. This may be an adaptation to
"cracking open" turtle shells; following the late Pleistocene
extinctions, armored reptiles such as turtles would have formed an
abundant prey base for the jaguar. The skull bite is employed
with mammals in particular; with reptiles such as the caiman, the
jaguar may leap onto the back of the prey and sever the cervical
vertebrae, immobilizing the target. When attacking sea turtles,
including the huge leatherback sea turtle which weighs about
385 kg (849 lb) on average, as they try to nest on beaches,
the jaguar will bite at the head, often beheading the prey, before
dragging it off to eat. Reportedly, while hunting horses, a jaguar
may leap onto their back, place one paw on the muzzle and another on
the nape and then twist, dislocating the neck. Local people have
anecdotally reported that when hunting a pair of horses bound
together, the jaguar will kill one horse and then drag it while the
other horse, still living, is dragged in their wake. With prey
such as smaller dogs, a paw swipe to the skull may be sufficient to
Illustration of a jaguar killing a tapir, the largest native land
animal in its range
The jaguar is a stalk-and-ambush rather than a chase predator. The cat
will walk slowly down forest paths, listening for and stalking prey
before rushing or ambushing. The jaguar attacks from cover and usually
from a target's blind spot with a quick pounce; the species' ambushing
abilities are considered nearly peerless in the animal kingdom by both
indigenous people and field researchers, and are probably a product of
its role as an apex predator in several different environments. The
ambush may include leaping into water after prey, as a jaguar is quite
capable of carrying a large kill while swimming; its strength is such
that carcasses as large as a heifer can be hauled up a tree to avoid
On killing prey, the jaguar will drag the carcass to a thicket or
other secluded spot. It begins eating at the neck and chest, rather
than the midsection. The heart and lungs are consumed, followed by the
shoulders. The daily food requirement of a 34 kg (75 lb)
animal, at the extreme low end of the species' weight range, has been
estimated at 1.4 kg (3.1 lb). For captive animals in the
50–60 kg (110–130 lb) range, more than 2 kg
(4.4 lb) of meat daily are recommended. In the wild,
consumption is naturally more erratic; wild cats expend considerable
energy in the capture and kill of prey, and they may consume up to
25 kg (55 lb) of meat at one feeding, followed by periods of
Further information: Man-eater
Unlike all other
Panthera species, jaguars very rarely attack humans.
However, jaguar attacks appear to be on the rise with increased human
encroachment on their habitat and a decrease in prey populations.
Sometimes jaguars in captivity attack zookeepers. In addition, it
appears that attacks on humans had been more common in the past, at
least after conquistadors arrived in the Americas, to the extent that
the jaguar had a fearsome reputation in the Americas, akin to the lion
and tiger in the Old World. Nevertheless, even in those times, the
jaguar's chief prey was the capybara, not the human, and Charles
Darwin reported a saying of Native Americans that people would not
have to fear the jaguar much, as long as capybaras were abundant.
South American jaguar
South American jaguar killed by Theodore Roosevelt
jaguar hunting scene with dogs – MHNT
Jaguar populations are rapidly declining. The species is listed as
Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. The loss of parts of its range,
including its virtual elimination from its historic northern areas and
the increasing fragmentation of the remaining range, have contributed
to this status. Particularly significant declines occurred in the
1960, when more than 15,000 jaguars were killed for their skins in the
Brazilian Amazon yearly; the Convention on International Trade in
Species of 1973 brought about a sharp decline in the pelt
trade. Detailed work performed under the auspices of the Wildlife
Conservation Society revealed the species has lost 37% of its historic
range, with its status unknown in an additional 18% of the global
range. More encouragingly, the probability of long-term survival was
considered high in 70% of its remaining range, particularly in the
Amazon basin and the adjoining
Gran Chaco and Pantanal.
The major risks to the jaguar include deforestation across its
habitat, increasing competition for food with human beings, especially
in dry and unproductive habitat, poaching, hurricanes in
northern parts of its range, and the behavior of ranchers who will
often kill the cat where it preys on livestock. When adapted to the
prey, the jaguar has been shown to take cattle as a large portion of
its diet; while land clearance for grazing is a problem for the
species, the jaguar population may have increased when cattle were
first introduced to South America, as the animals took advantage of
the new prey base. This willingness to take livestock has induced
ranch owners to hire full-time jaguar hunters.
The skins of wild cats and other mammals have been highly valued by
the fur trade for many decades. From the beginning of the 20th-century
Jaguars were hunted in large numbers, but over-harvest and habitat
destruction reduced the availability and induced hunters and traders
to gradually shift to smaller species by the 1960s. The international
trade of jaguar skins had its largest boom between the end of the
Second World War
Second World War and the early 1970, due to the growing economy and
lack of regulations. From 1967 onwards, the regulations introduced by
national laws and international agreements diminished the reported
international trade from as high as 13000 skins in 1967, through 7000
skins in 1969, until it became negligible after 1976, although illegal
trade and smuggling continue to be a problem. During this period, the
biggest exporters were
Brazil and Paraguay, and the biggest importers
were the USA and Germany.
A melanistic jaguar
Adult jaguar in Cameron Park Zoo, Waco, Texas
The jaguar is listed on
CITES Appendix I, which means that all
international trade in jaguars or their parts is prohibited. Hunting
jaguars is prohibited in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana,
Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, the United States,
and Venezuela. Hunting of jaguars is restricted in Brazil, Costa Rica,
Mexico and Peru.
Trophy hunting is still permitted in
Bolivia, and it is not protected in
Ecuador or Guyana. In the US, it
is listed as endangered under the Endangered
Jaguar Conservation Units
Jaguar conservation is complicated because of the species' large range
spaning 18 countries with different policies and regulations. Specific
areas of high importance for jaguar conservation, so-called "Jaguar
Conservation Units" (JCU) were determined in 2000. These are large
areas inhabited by at least 50 jaguars. Each unit was assessed and
evaluated on the basis of size, connectivity, habitat quality for both
jaguar and prey, and jaguar population status. That way, 51 Jaguar
Conservation Units were determined in 36 geographic regions as
priority areas for jaguar conservation including:
the Sierra Madre of Mexico
the Selva Maya tropical forests extending over Mexico, Belize, and
Chocó-Darién moist forests
Chocó-Darién moist forests from Honduras,
Panama to Colombia
Sierra de Tamaulipas
Amazon basin in Brazil
Misiones Province in Argentina
Recent studies underlined that to maintain the robust exchange across
the jaguar gene pool necessary for maintaining the species, it is
important that jaguar habitats are interconnected. To facilitate this,
a new project, the Paseo del Jaguar, has been established to connect
several jaguar hotspots.
In 1986, the
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary was established in
Belize as the world's first protected area for jaguar
Given the inaccessibility of much of the species' range, particularly
the central Amazon, estimating jaguar numbers is difficult.
Researchers typically focus on particular bioregions, thus
species-wide analysis is scant. In 1991, 600–1,000 (the highest
total) were estimated to be living in Belize. A year earlier,
125–180 jaguars were estimated to be living in Mexico's 4,000-km2
Biosphere Reserve, with another 350 in the state
of Chiapas. The adjoining Maya
Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala, with an
area measuring 15,000 km2 (9,000 mi2), may have 465–550
animals. Work employing GPS telemetry in 2003 and 2004 found
densities of only six to seven jaguars per 100 km2 in the
Pantanal region, compared with 10 to 11 using traditional
methods; this suggests the widely used sampling methods may inflate
the actual numbers of cats.
In setting up protected reserves, efforts generally also have to be
focused on the surrounding areas, as jaguars are unlikely to confine
themselves to the bounds of a reservation, especially if the
population is increasing in size. Human attitudes in the areas
surrounding reserves and laws and regulations to prevent poaching are
essential to make conservation areas effective.
To estimate population sizes within specific areas and to keep track
of individual jaguars, camera trapping and wildlife tracking telemetry
are widely used, and feces may be sought out with the help of detector
dogs to study jaguar health and diet. Current conservation
efforts often focus on educating ranch owners and promoting
ecotourism. The jaguar is generally defined as an umbrella species
– its home range and habitat requirements are sufficiently broad
that, if protected, numerous other species of smaller range will also
Umbrella species serve as "mobile links" at the
landscape scale, in the jaguar's case through predation. Conservation
organizations may thus focus on providing viable, connected habitat
for the jaguar, with the knowledge other species will also
Ecotourism setups are being used to generate public interest in
charismatic animals such as the jaguar, while at the same time
generating revenue that can be used in conservation efforts. Audits
done in Africa have shown that ecotourism has helped in African cat
conservation. As with large African cats, a key concern in jaguar
ecotourism is the considerable habitat space the species requires, so
if ecotourism is used to aid in jaguar conservation, some
considerations need to be made as to how existing ecosystems will be
kept intact, or how new ecosystems that are large enough to support a
growing jaguar population will be put into place.
The United States
Main article: North American jaguar
The only extant cat native to North America that roars, the jaguar
was recorded as an animal of the
Thomas Jefferson in
1799. Jaguars are still occasionally sighted in
Arizona and New
Mexico, such as El Jefe, prompting actions for its
conservation by authorities. For example, on the 20th of August,
2012, the USFWS proposed setting aside 838,232 acres in
Mexico — an area larger than Rhode Island — as critical jaguar
In mythology and culture
Jaguar warrior in the
Copy of the Book of
Chilam Balam of Ixil in the National Museum of
Statuette of Karajà in the Museum of Toulouse
Moche jaguar figurine dating to 300 CE, at the
Larco Museum in Lima,
See also: Jaguars in Mesoamerican cultures
In pre-Columbian Central and South America, the jaguar was a symbol of
power and strength. Among the Andean cultures, a jaguar cult
disseminated by the early
Chavín culture became accepted over most of
what is today
Peru by 900 BC. The later Moche culture of northern Peru
used the jaguar as a symbol of power in many of their
ceramics. In the religion of the Muisca, who inhabited
Altiplano Cundiboyacense in the Colombian Andes, the jaguar
was considered a sacred animal and during their religious rituals the
people dressed in jaguar skins. The skins were traded with the
lowland peoples of the tropical Llanos Orientales. The name of
Nemequene was derived from the Muysccubun words nymy and quyne,
meaning "force of the jaguar".
In Mesoamerica, the Olmec—an early and influential culture of the
Gulf Coast region roughly contemporaneous with the Chavín—developed
a distinct "were-jaguar" motif of sculptures and figurines showing
stylised jaguars or humans with jaguar characteristics. In the later
Maya civilization, the jaguar was believed to facilitate communication
between the living and the dead and to protect the royal household.
The Maya saw these powerful felines as their companions in the
spiritual world, and a number of Maya rulers bore names that
incorporated the Mayan word for jaguar (b'alam in many of the Mayan
languages). Balam (Jaguar) remains a common Maya surname, and it is
also the name of Chilam Balam, a legendary author to whom are
attributed 17th and 18th-centuries Maya miscellanies preserving much
important knowledge. The
Aztec civilization shared this image of the
jaguar as the representative of the ruler and as a warrior. The Aztecs
formed an elite warrior class known as the
Jaguar Knights. In Aztec
mythology, the jaguar was considered to be the totem animal of the
powerful deity Tezcatlipoca.
The jaguar and its name are widely used as a symbol in contemporary
culture. It is the national animal of Guyana, and is featured in its
coat of arms. The flag of the Department of Amazonas, a Colombian
department, features a black jaguar silhouette pouncing towards a
hunter. The jaguar also appears in banknotes of Brazilian real.
The jaguar is also a common fixture in the mythology of many
contemporary native cultures in South America, usually being
portrayed as the creature which gave humans the power over fire.
Jaguar is widely used as a product name, most prominently for a
British luxury car brand. The name has been adopted by sports
franchises, including the NFL's
Jacksonville Jaguars and the Mexican
Chiapas F.C. The crest of Argentina's national federation
in rugby union features a jaguar; however, because of a journalist
error, the country's national team is nicknamed Los Pumas. In the
spirit of the ancient Mayan culture, the 1968 Olympics in
adopted a red jaguar as the first official Olympic mascot.
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^ Davies, Sean (26 July 2007). "Puma power: Argentinian rugby".
bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 8 October 2007.
^ Welch, Paula. Cute Little Creatures: Mascots Lend a Smile to the
Games (PDF). la84foundation.org. Retrieved 2011-11-11.
Baker, W. K. Jr.; et al. Law, Christopher, ed. Guidelines for Captive
Management of Jaguars (PDF).
Species Survival Plan. American
Zoo and Aquarium Association. Archived from the original on 13 January
2012. Retrieved 2011-11-11. CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status
Brown, David, and Carlos A. López González (2001). Borderland
Jaguars. University of Utah Press. ISBN 978-0-87480-696-0.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Wikispecies has information related to
Species portrait Jaguar". International Union for Conservation of
Species Survival Commission
Cat Specialist Group. Archived from
the original on 2015-03-07.
Sound of a jaguar roar at Vivanatura.org
Panthera onca)". Arkive. Archived from the original on
"Jaguar". BBC. 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-09-22.
People and Jaguars a Guide for Coexistence
Sky Island Alliance website
Felidae Conservation Fund
"Jaguar". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.
Salman the fat jaguar at Delhi Zoo, India
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African palm civet
African palm civet (N. binotata)
Marsh mongoose (A. paludinosus)
Bushy-tailed mongoose (B. crassicauda)
Jackson's mongoose (B. jacksoni)
Black-footed mongoose (B. nigripes)
Alexander's kusimanse (C. alexandri)
Angolan kusimanse (C. ansorgei)
Common kusimanse (C. obscurus)
Flat-headed kusimanse (C. platycephalus)
Yellow mongoose (C. penicillata)
Pousargues's mongoose (D. dybowskii)
Angolan slender mongoose
Angolan slender mongoose (G. flavescens)
Black mongoose (G. nigrata)
Somalian slender mongoose
Somalian slender mongoose (G. ochracea)
Cape gray mongoose
Cape gray mongoose (G. pulverulenta)
Slender mongoose (G. sanguinea)
Ethiopian dwarf mongoose
Ethiopian dwarf mongoose (H. hirtula)
Common dwarf mongoose
Common dwarf mongoose (H. parvula)
Short-tailed mongoose (H. brachyurus)
Indian gray mongoose
Indian gray mongoose (H. edwardsii)
Indian brown mongoose
Indian brown mongoose (H. fuscus)
Egyptian mongoose (H. ichneumon)
Small Asian mongoose
Small Asian mongoose (H. javanicus)
Long-nosed mongoose (H. naso)
Collared mongoose (H. semitorquatus)
Ruddy mongoose (H. smithii)
Crab-eating mongoose (H. urva)
Stripe-necked mongoose (H. vitticollis)
White-tailed mongoose (I. albicauda)
Liberian mongoose (L. kuhni)
Gambian mongoose (M. gambianus)
Banded mongoose (M. mungo)
Selous' mongoose (P. selousi)
Meller's mongoose (R. melleri)
Meerkat (S. suricatta)
Spotted hyena (C. crocuta)
Brown hyena (H. brunnea)
Striped hyena (H. hyaena)
Aardwolf (P. cristatus)
Large family listed below
Large family listed below
Small family listed below
Cheetah (A. jubatus)
Caracal (C. caracal)
African golden cat
African golden cat (C. aurata)
Bay cat (C. badia)
Asian golden cat
Asian golden cat (C. temminckii)
European wildcat (F. silvestris)
African wildcat (F. lybica)
Jungle cat (F. chaus)
Black-footed cat (F. nigripes)
Sand cat (F. margarita)
Chinese mountain cat
Chinese mountain cat (F. bieti)
Domestic cat (F. catus)
Ocelot (L. pardalis)
Margay (L. wiedii)
Pampas cat (L. colocola)
Geoffroy's cat (L. geoffroyi)
Kodkod (L. guigna)
Andean mountain cat
Andean mountain cat (L. jacobita)
Oncilla (L. tigrinus)
Southern tigrina (L. guttulus)
Serval (L. serval)
Canadian lynx (L. canadensis)
Eurasian lynx (L. lynx)
Iberian lynx (L. pardinus)
Bobcat (L. rufus)
Pallas's cat (O. manul)
Marbled cat (P. marmorata)
Fishing cat (P. viverrinus)
Leopard cat (P. bengalensis)
Sundaland leopard cat (P. javanensis)
Flat-headed cat (P. planiceps)
Rusty-spotted cat (P. rubiginosus)
Cougar (P. concolor)
Jaguarundi (H. yagouaroundi)
Lion (P. leo)
Jaguar (P. onca)
Leopard (P. pardus)
Tiger (P. tigris)
Snow leopard (P. uncia)
Clouded leopard (N. nebulosa)
Sunda clouded leopard
Sunda clouded leopard (N. diardi)
Viverridae (includes Civets)
Binturong (A. binturong)
Small-toothed palm civet
Small-toothed palm civet (A. trivirgata)
Sulawesi palm civet
Sulawesi palm civet (M. musschenbroekii)
Masked palm civet
Masked palm civet (P. larvata)
Golden wet-zone palm civet (P. aureus)
Asian palm civet
Asian palm civet (P. hermaphroditus)
Jerdon's palm civet (P. jerdoni)
Golden palm civet
Golden palm civet (P. zeylonensis)
Owston's palm civet
Owston's palm civet (C. owstoni)
Otter civet (C. bennettii)
Hose's palm civet
Hose's palm civet (D. hosei)
Banded palm civet
Banded palm civet (H. derbyanus)
Banded linsang (P. linsang)
Spotted linsang (P. pardicolor)
African civet (C. civetta)
Abyssinian genet (G. abyssinica)
Angolan genet (G. angolensis)
Bourlon's genet (G. bourloni)
Crested servaline genet
Crested servaline genet (G. cristata)
Common genet (G. genetta)
Johnston's genet (G. johnstoni)
Rusty-spotted genet (G. maculata)
Pardine genet (G. pardina)
Aquatic genet (G. piscivora)
King genet (G. poensis)
Servaline genet (G. servalina)
Haussa genet (G. thierryi)
Cape genet (G. tigrina)
Giant forest genet
Giant forest genet (G. victoriae)
African linsang (P. richardsonii)
Leighton's linsang (P. leightoni)
Malabar large-spotted civet
Malabar large-spotted civet (V. civettina)
Large-spotted civet (V. megaspila)
Malayan civet (V. tangalunga)
Large Indian civet
Large Indian civet (V. zibetha)
Small Indian civet
Small Indian civet (V. indica)
Fossa (C. ferox)
Eastern falanouc (E. goudotii)
Western falanouc (E. major)
Malagasy civet (F. fossana)
Ring-tailed mongoose (G. elegans)
Broad-striped Malagasy mongoose
Broad-striped Malagasy mongoose (G. fasciata)
Grandidier's mongoose (G. grandidieri)
Narrow-striped mongoose (M. decemlineata)
Brown-tailed mongoose (S. concolor)
Durrell's vontsira (S. durrelli)
Caniformia (cont. below)
Giant panda (A. melanoleuca)
Sun bear (H. malayanus)
Sloth bear (M. ursinus)
Spectacled bear (T. ornatus)
American black bear
American black bear (U. americanus)
Brown bear (U. arctos)
Polar bear (U. maritimus)
Asian black bear
Asian black bear (U. thibetanus)
Molina's hog-nosed skunk
Molina's hog-nosed skunk (C. chinga)
Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk
Humboldt's hog-nosed skunk (C. humboldtii)
American hog-nosed skunk
American hog-nosed skunk (C. leuconotus)
Striped hog-nosed skunk
Striped hog-nosed skunk (C. semistriatus)
Hooded skunk (M. macroura)
Striped skunk (M. mephitis)
Sunda stink badger
Sunda stink badger (M. javanensis)
Palawan stink badger
Palawan stink badger (M. marchei)
Southern spotted skunk
Southern spotted skunk (S. angustifrons)
Western spotted skunk
Western spotted skunk (S. gracilis)
Eastern spotted skunk
Eastern spotted skunk (S. putorius)
Pygmy spotted skunk
Pygmy spotted skunk (S. pygmaea)
Eastern lowland olingo
Eastern lowland olingo (B. alleni)
Northern olingo (B. gabbii)
Western lowland olingo
Western lowland olingo (B. medius)
Olinguito (B. neblina)
Ring-tailed cat (B. astutus)
Cacomistle (B. sumichrasti)
White-nosed coati (N. narica)
South American coati
South American coati (N. nasua)
Western mountain coati (N. olivacea)
Eastern mountain coati (N. meridensis)
Kinkajou (P. flavus)
Crab-eating raccoon (P. cancrivorus)
Raccoon (P. lotor)
Cozumel raccoon (P. pygmaeus)
Red panda (A. fulgens)
Caniformia (cont. above)
(includes fur seals
and sea lions)
South American fur seal
South American fur seal (A. australis)
Australasian fur seal (A. forsteri)
Galápagos fur seal
Galápagos fur seal (A. galapagoensis)
Antarctic fur seal
Antarctic fur seal (A. gazella)
Juan Fernández fur seal
Juan Fernández fur seal (A. philippii)
Brown fur seal
Brown fur seal (A. pusillus)
Guadalupe fur seal
Guadalupe fur seal (A. townsendi)
Subantarctic fur seal
Subantarctic fur seal (A. tropicalis)
Northern fur seal
Northern fur seal (C. ursinus)
Steller sea lion
Steller sea lion (E. jubatus)
Australian sea lion
Australian sea lion (N. cinerea)
South American sea lion
South American sea lion (O. flavescens)
New Zealand sea lion
New Zealand sea lion (P. hookeri)
California sea lion
California sea lion (Z. californianus)
Galápagos sea lion
Galápagos sea lion (Z. wollebaeki)
Walrus (O. rosmarus)
Hooded seal (C. cristata)
Bearded seal (E. barbatus)
Gray seal (H. grypus)
Ribbon seal (H. fasciata)
Leopard seal (H. leptonyx)
Weddell seal (L. weddellii)
Crabeater seal (L. carcinophagus)
Northern elephant seal
Northern elephant seal (M. angustirostris)
Southern elephant seal
Southern elephant seal (M. leonina)
Mediterranean monk seal
Mediterranean monk seal (M. monachus)
Hawaiian monk seal
Hawaiian monk seal (M. schauinslandi)
Ross seal (O. rossi)
Harp seal (P. groenlandicus)
Spotted seal (P. largha)
Harbor seal (P. vitulina)
Caspian seal (P. caspica)
Ringed seal (P. hispida)
Baikal seal (P. sibirica)
Large family listed below
Large family listed below
Canidae (includes dogs)
Short-eared dog (A. microtis)
Side-striped jackal (C. adustus)
African golden wolf
African golden wolf (C. anthus)
Golden jackal (C. aureus)
Coyote (C. latrans)
Gray wolf (C. lupus)
Black-backed jackal (C. mesomelas)
Red wolf (C. rufus)
Ethiopian wolf (C. simensis)
Crab-eating fox (C. thous)
Maned wolf (C. brachyurus)
Dhole (C. alpinus)
Culpeo (L. culpaeus)
Darwin's fox (L. fulvipes)
South American gray fox
South American gray fox (L. griseus)
Pampas fox (L. gymnocercus)
Sechuran fox (L. sechurae)
Hoary fox (L. vetulus)
African wild dog
African wild dog (L. pictus)
Raccoon dog (N. procyonoides)
Bat-eared fox (O. megalotis)
Bush dog (S. venaticus)
Gray fox (U. cinereoargenteus)
Island fox (U. littoralis)
Bengal fox (V. bengalensis)
Blanford's fox (V. cana)
Cape fox (V. chama)
Corsac fox (V. corsac)
Tibetan sand fox
Tibetan sand fox (V. ferrilata)
Arctic fox (V. lagopus)
Kit fox (V. macrotis)
Pale fox (V. pallida)
Rüppell's fox (V. rueppelli)
Swift fox (V. velox)
Red fox (V. vulpes)
Fennec fox (V. zerda)
African clawless otter
African clawless otter (A. capensis)
Oriental small-clawed otter
Oriental small-clawed otter (A. cinerea)
Sea otter (E. lutris)
Spotted-necked otter (H. maculicollis)
North American river otter
North American river otter (L. canadensis)
Marine otter (L. felina)
Neotropical otter (L. longicaudis)
Southern river otter
Southern river otter (L. provocax)
Eurasian otter (L. lutra)
Hairy-nosed otter (L. sumatrana)
Smooth-coated otter (L. perspicillata)
Giant otter (P. brasiliensis)
Hog badger (A. collaris)
Tayra (E. barbara)
Lesser grison (G. cuja)
Greater grison (G. vittata)
Wolverine (G. gulo)
Saharan striped polecat
Saharan striped polecat (I. libyca)
Striped polecat (I. striatus)
Patagonian weasel (L. patagonicus)
American marten (M. americana)
Yellow-throated marten (M. flavigula)
Beech marten (M. foina)
Nilgiri marten (M. gwatkinsii)
European pine marten
European pine marten (M. martes)
Japanese marten (M. melampus)
Sable (M. zibellina)
Fisher (P. pennanti)
Japanese badger (M. anakuma)
Asian badger (M. leucurus)
European badger (M. meles)
Honey badger (M. capensis)
Bornean ferret-badger (M. everetti)
Chinese ferret-badger (M. moschata)
Javan ferret-badger (M. orientalis)
Burmese ferret-badger (M. personata)
(Weasels and Ferrets)
Amazon weasel (M. africana)
Mountain weasel (M. altaica)
Stoat (M. erminea)
Steppe polecat (M. eversmannii)
Colombian weasel (M. felipei)
Long-tailed weasel (M. frenata)
Japanese weasel (M. itatsi)
Yellow-bellied weasel (M. kathiah)
European mink (M. lutreola)
Indonesian mountain weasel
Indonesian mountain weasel (M. lutreolina)
Black-footed ferret (M. nigripes)
Least weasel (M. nivalis)
Malayan weasel (M. nudipes)
European polecat (M. putorius)
Siberian weasel (M. sibirica)
Back-striped weasel (M. strigidorsa)
Egyptian weasel (M. subpalmata)
American mink (N. vison)
African striped weasel
African striped weasel (P. albinucha)
American badger (T. taxus)
Marbled polecat (V. peregusna)
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