The Jaguar, Panthera onca, is the only member of the Panthera genus native to the Americas. It’s also the largest member of the cat family in both of these two continents. Male Jaguars are about 100Kg and females about 80 Kg. The only cats larger than the Jaguar are the Lion and the Tiger.
Although it is predominately a South American species, it’s found in central and North America as well. In the northerly portions of its range it competes with the Cougar. The Jaguar ranges from Argentina in the south to Texas from the North.
The Jaguar can be confused with a Leopard. The Leopard comes from Africa, Europe and Asia, so no confusion about identification should occur in the wild. The Leopard is somewhat smaller on average. Jaguars have dots within their rosettes while Leopards do not.
The term Panther is confusing. It’s occasionally used for any black, or close black Leopard or Jaguar. Black Jaguars are more common in the dense rainforest parts of this animal’s range. Those which come from the more open areas tend to have the spotted pattern generally related to this animal.
Hunting for Fur
Previously, huge numbers of Jaguars were killed for their fur. The wearing of real fur is less fashionable at the moment, and the fur trade was reduced. Hunting of Jaguars does still happen, but the biggest long term threat is the loss of their habitat. The Amazon Jungle has been cleared.
Although a Jaguar is a powerful animal and might definitely kill a Human, most of them do not. There is evidence of them after individuals, but most times they don’t attack.
On the other hand, Jaguars are a real threat to domestic animals. They will even kill cows and horses many times their size. Several years ago some sheep were brought from Australia. Many were killed in the first night.
The only predator that the adult Jaguar has on property is the Human Being. But, there are a good deal of Humans and Jaguars often come into conflict with our savage and destructive species.
The Jaguar is not in immediate danger of extinction although the trend at present is in that direction with generally decreasing numbers and rapid clearing of its preferred habitat.
Although cats have the reputation of not liking water, Jaguars seem very happy to get wet. They are powerful swimmers and are good at catching fish.