The jaguar is the largest feline in the Americas. They are valuable components to their ecosystem as top predators, as well as iconic symbols of South American culture. Jaguars have faced major population loss over the years. This is mainly attributed to habitat conversions to agricultural land, habitat/population fragmentation, loss of prey base, and illegal poaching. Its long-term survival depends on organizations such as our partner, Global Conservation (US), the National Alliance for Jaguar Conservation, and the Institute of Ecology of the National University of Mexico. Central America has experienced extreme habitat loss in the last decade, leaving Mirador National Park to be the last jaguar habitat in the region. Fortunately, Mirador National Park is very well preserved and is a proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site that Global Conservation is monitoring. Surveilling jaguars is a tricky task, but necessary in order to understand jaguars’ responses to habitat modifications. Global Conservation is extensively using camera traps to better study the Mirador jaguar population. The Mexico’s National Alliance for Jaguar Conservation and the Lab of Ecology and Conservation of Wildlife (National University of Mexico) work in the Calakmul region and protect more than 100,000 hectares of prime jaguar habitat

Common name Jaguar

Scientific name Panthera onca

Status IUCN Near Threatened

Distribution Central America and South America

Population 57,000-64,000 Individuals

Trend Decreasing

Threats llegal hunting and change of land use for agricultural activities

Photo by Gerardo Ceballos

Photo by Gerardo Ceballos

Distribution, habits, and status

Jaguars have an extensive distribution in the tropics of the Americas, from the US–Mexico border all the way to Argentina. They are still found in the US (a few individuals), Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam, French Guayana, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. The species is extinct in El Salvador, Chile, and Uruguay, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Jaguars inhabit many different tropical and semitropical habitats, such as thorn forests, shrublands, mangroves, wetlands, tropical dry forests, tropical rain forests, and savannas. They are occasionally found in cloud and temperate forests. Jaguars are both diurnal and nocturnal. They prey on many species of mammals, birds, and reptiles. They usually prefer prey such as deer, peccaries, coatis, iguanas, and sea turtles. They were very abundant in the 20th century. However, large scale commercial hunting for its skins for the fashion industry caused a massive population loss. Additionally, large regions were deforested for agriculture and cattle grazing, furthering their population decline. Currently, it is estimated that they are still found in around 60% of their geographic range. Legal trade was banned in the 1970s, allowing some populations to recover. It is considered as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and in Appendix I of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) It is s protected by law throughout its range. Jaguars now face a new and increasing threat from the illegal trade of bones and teeth, which are sent to China and sold as traditional medicine. There are many organizations working to protect jaguars at local and national levels, such as Mexico’s National Alliance for Jaguar Conservation and the Mexican government. Fortunately, The jaguar population has increased from 4000 individuals in 2010 to 4800 individuals in 2018.