An endangered species: Jaguars in North America

King of the Jungle

The Jaguar (Photo: Nigel Swales/Flickr/CC BY-SA)

Jaguars once lived and roamed about in the southern United States and close to the tip of South America. However, now they are down to nearly half that range from that of a hundred years ago. Every year thousands of jaguars were killed by hunters for their pelts up until the mid-1970s. An estimated 50,000 jaguars was reported to be what was left of them, but that was back in 2002. Excluding the number of jaguars found in zoos and captivities, one could safely say that that number could roughly be down to about 15,000 or less today.

Jaguars – the largest of the big cats in America

It can measure up to six feet, not including its tail, and can weigh over 260 pounds. In captivity they can live up to 20 years or more. Jaguars will only come together with others of their kind when they are ready to mate. The standard age of a mature male jaguar is three or four, whereas the female usually has her first litter around two years of age. It is common for the female to have two cubs, and they remain in their mother’s womb for three to four months.

Jaguars are very good hunters

Jaguars sport a golden coat with black rosettes that surround smaller spots. This is really effective in being, in a sense, camouflaged and hidden in the scenery and trees in the wild without being seen. They are very hard to detect; you could be standing next to one and never even know it! They are also very good hunters that feed on deer, tapirs, monkeys and around 85 different species of animals. They can even take down and kill a full grown horse! Unlike regular cats, the jaguar is not afraid of water and will catch turtles and fish for food. The jaguar has never been labeled a man-eater and is not likely to attack a human. Humans are much more of a threat to them than they are to humans.

Human efforts to preserve the Jaguar

In the effort to preserve this endangered species, some 200 countries have offered their support to regulations of the International Trade of Endangered Species and have made it illegal to hunt these animals for commercial gain. Hopefully, countries that don’t have access to short term loans and payday loans will get their acts together and figure out a better option, instead of pouching these beautiful animals for quick financing. At least there are national park preserves in place to help protect the jaguar’s national habitat. Nonetheless, it is yet to be seen if such human efforts will be successful or not.

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