The jaguar is the largest wild cat in the Western Hemisphere. Although jaguar populations are abundant in some areas, many are threatened by illegal hunting, deforestation and loss of wild prey.
State of the Jaguar
Jaguars exist in 18 countries in Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina. Despite this broad range, jaguars have been eradicated from 40 percent of their historic range and are extinct in Uruguay and El Salvador. While the rare individual has been spotted in the US, there has not been evidence of a breeding population in the US in more than 50 years.
The jaguar is listed as "Near Threatened" on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, though its status is in review and may be elevated to "Vulnerable" in the next year.
The species is threatened by loss and fragmentation of jaguar habitat, conflict with local people due to the real or perceived threat posed to livestock, and overhunting of the jaguar’s prey by local people.
"The fact that jaguars have been more resilient and, in many ways, more lucky in their survival than other big cats is EXACTLY why we should focus our attention and conservation efforts on them. This could be the world’s greatest success story for large carnivore conservation and show how big predators such as these can indeed live with humans.”
- Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, CEO, Panthera
Jaguars have been eradicated from 40% of their historic range. As people develop land for agriculture and other uses, jaguar habitats are lost or fragmented, isolating populations and jeopardizing the genetic integrity of the species.
The jaguar is unique in that it exists as a single species -- with no subspecies -- from Mexico to Argentina; no other large, wide-ranging carnivore in the world maintains this genetic continuity throughout its range.
But explosive growth in Latin America threatens to change that. Between 1990 and 2010, for example, Guatemala lost over 25 percent of its natural forest, or 1,213,000 hectares, due to economic developments, including agriculture and resource extraction.
While jaguars range across a six million km2 area, their numbers are declining and their movement is increasingly restricted by human encroachment into vital habitats and the jaguar’s genetic corridors.
This dramatic habitat loss and fragmentation forces jaguars into closer contact with humans, fueling human-jaguar conflict and contributing to the jaguar’s loss of wild prey. In human-jaguar conflict, ranchers sometimes kill jaguars in retaliation for livestock predation or because of the perceived threat jaguars pose to their herds and livelihoods.
Additionally, the overhunting by humans of the jaguar’s natural prey contributes to population declines and forces jaguars to prey on domestic animals, exacerbating a vicious cycle of conflict.
Expand Panthera’s jaguar conservation activities to all 18 range states
Jaguar Corridor Initiative
Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative is the only conservation program to date which seeks to protect jaguars across their entire six million km2 range. In partnership with governments, corporations and local communities, Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative is working to preserve the genetic integrity of the jaguar by connecting and protecting core jaguar populations in human landscapes from northern Mexico to northern Argentina.