World Wildlife Day Wisdom Series (6 of 8)Begin
If you want to tell the two apart, pay close attention to the markings on their fur! Both jaguars and leopards have black circular markings, called rosettes (fitting name as they are shaped like roses). However, unlike leopards, jaguars have spots in the middle of the rosette.
False! Jaguars are are actually good swimmers and have been known to cross wide rivers! They are often found living near the water - along lakes, rivers, and in wetlands.
Jaguars are the 3rd largest big cat species in the world, behind tigers and lions. They are stocky and muscular cats, growing up to 170 cm (67 in) long, not including their tails which can be another 80 cm (31 in) in length. Males can weigh as heavy as 120 kg (265 lbs)!
Jaguars are comfortable in the water, and their size and strength makes them capable of hunting caiman - a large and dangerous type of reptile related to the alligator. Beyond caiman, jaguars have an opportunistic diet consisting of capybaras, tapir, deer, tortoises, armadillos, fish, birds, monkeys, and sometimes even anacondas.
Deforestation rates in South America have skyrocketed in the last few decades, with the jaguar's rainforest habitat being destroyed due to logging, or to make make space for agricultural activities and cattle ranching. Land the size of a football pitch is lost in the Amazon rainforest every minute.
All of the above are true! Habitat loss from deforestation makes jaguar populations more isolated, making it harder for individuals to find a mate and breed. Jaguars are not the only species that rely on forests - the animals they prey on rely on the same habitat as well. As a result of deforestation, prey becomes less abundant for jaguars and hunting becomes more difficult. With less wild prey, jaguars are more likely to hunt livestock and come into conflict with farmers, ranchers, and local communities that kill them to protect their flock.
50%. Jaguars used to be found in the southwestern United States and all throughout South America but have since lost half of their historic range. Today, the largest populations of jaguars are found in Brazil, throughout the Amazon rainforest and Pantanal wetlands.
Poaching and the illegal wildlife trade remain a significant threat to jaguars. While the demand for jaguar skins has declined in the last few decades, jaguar paws, teeth and other parts are still considered valuable, used as ornaments or in traditional Chinese medicine. As with other wildlife parts illegally traded - such as tiger bone, bear gall bladder, or pangolin scales - no such medicinal properties have been scientifically proven to exist.
Jaguars are not the only species at risk. Countless other animal and plant species depend on natural spaces to thrive yet are losing their habitats and the biodiversity within them at an alarming and unprecedented rate. Add your voice to call on world leaders to take urgent action to protect and restore nature.