Jaguars

Overview

Jaguars are the largest and most iconic cat living in the America's today. While jaguars live in 18 countries in Latin America, and are considered to be abundant in some areas, their future is threatened by illegal hunting, deforestation, and loss of wild prey.

Jaguars and People

As jaguar habitat continues to be lost or fragmented, humans and jaguars are coming into increasingly closer contact. Even though jaguars serve as national symbols for some Latin American countries, many people live in fear and are intolerant of this large and wild cat. Jaguars continue to be hunted by people, such as ranchers, who view them as a threat to cattle and therefore their livelihoods.

Panthera in Action

Panthera is working in 13 countries to conserve jaguars through our Jaguar Corridor Initiative. We are securing and linking jaguar populations, preserving jaguar habitat, protecting prey, collaborating with local communities to mitigate conflict, and partnering with local governments, many of which have endorsed the Jaguar Corridor.
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    [value] => 18000
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18,000 During the 1960's - 1970's, as many as 18,000 jaguars were killed each year for their beautiful coats.
40 Jaguars have been eradicated from 40 percent of their historic range.
50 There has not been evidence of a breeding jaguar population in the US in the last 50 years.

A Species Under Threat

Jaguar resting in the grass, Pantanal, BrazilThe jaguar (Panthera onca) is the third largest cat in the world, after the tiger and lion, but it is the largest feline in the Western Hemisphere.  During the 1960’s and 1970’s, the jaguar was heavily hunted for its beautiful coat. As many as 18,000 wild jaguars were killed each year until the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of 1973 brought the pelt trade to a near halt. Today, jaguars continue to be hunted due to conflict with humans who live in fear of them, or view them as a threat to their livelihoods.

Jaguar skulls; the results of many huntsWhile jaguars are faring considerably better than the other big cats, they are listed as “Near Threatened” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Even though jaguars have been eradicated from over 40% of their historical range, they still exist in 18 countries in Latin America, from Argentina to Mexico,  but are extinct in two countries: El Salvador and Uruguay. While the rare individual has been occasionally spotted in the US, there has not been evidence of a breeding jaguar population in the US in the last 50 years.

Wild jaguars are faced with three main threats:

  • Habitat loss and fragmentation of once wild areas for agriculture and other human development;
  • Direct hunting by people, such as ranchers, who view jaguars as a threat to their livelihoods; and
  • Lack of natural prey, like deer and peccaries, from overhunting by humans, forcing jaguars to prey on domestic animals and fueling the viscious cycle of human-wildlife conflict.

How We're Helping

Omar, Howard, and Bart in the Jaguar Corridor in BelizePanthera’s Vice President, Dr. George Schaller, and Dr. Howard Quigley, Director of the Jaguar Program, began the first comprehensive, ecological study of jaguars in the Brazilian Pantanal in the late 1970's. Almost a decade later, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, Panthera’s CEO, radio-collared the first jaguars in Belize, leading the country to establish the world’s first jaguar preserve and Belize’s first wildlife protected area – the Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve.

In 2000, new information on jaguars surprised felid biologists: detailed genetic analyses indicated that there were no subspecies of jaguars. Jaguars are the same whether they live in Mexico or Argentina. There is no other large, wide-ranging carnivore in the world with this characteristic genetic continuity throughout its existing range. This revelation led to the creation of the Jaguar Corridor Initiative and is a model that is the defining mandate for Panthera.

Groundtruthing the jaguar corridorPanthera's Jaguar Corridor Initiative (JCI) is working to create a genetic corridor connecting jaguar populations from Mexico to Argentina. Along with Panthera’s partnerships with national and local governments and conservation organizations, the JCI focuses on community outreach to help local communities find solutions to living with jaguars, improve livestock husbandry and reduce conflicts with jaguars.

Saving jaguars range-wide is a winning strategy for conserving vast landscapes and ecosystem functions, and preserving human health and livelihoods. While Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative is streamlined and focused on jaguars, the impacts go far beyond.

Read Panthera's Jaguar Report Card: The State of the Jaguar.


Watch the Panthera-produced film, My Pantanal


jaguar Programs

closeup of Jaguar Jaguar Corridor Initiative | Conserving Jaguars from Argentina to Mexico
Aerial view of the Pantanal, Brazil Pantanal Jaguar Project | Bridging the Jaguar-Cattle Divide

Panthera on the Ground

Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative spans 13 of the 18 jaguar range states in Latin America. One of these being Belize - home of the Central Belize Corridor that serves as the critical link between jaguar populations in Mexico and Guatemala, and all jaguar populations south of Belize. Situated on the Caribbean Sea, Belize experiences a rainy or ‘green’ season, from June to November, and a ‘dry’ season from November to May, which locals have fittingly called the ‘fire season.’

 See a map of Belize and the Central Belize Corridor.

How you can help jaguars right now: