By Nick Reardon
With their majestic, spotted coats and their silent, silky movements, jaguars are the iconic big cat of the Americas. Today, their future is in our hands. Join us in celebrating jaguars on International Jaguar Day on November 29th, and help ensure they have a fighting chance for a bright future.
The word ‘jaguar’ comes from the indigenous word ‘yaguar’, which means ‘he who kills with one leap’. This perfectly describes the hunting style of this mighty predator. Jaguars typically wait high up in a tree for their prey to wander below the tree, then the jaguar will pounce on the prey from the tree, killing the prey before it even has time to see the jaguar.
Jaguars have a more powerful bite than any other big cat. Their teeth are strong enough to bite through the thick hides of crocodiles and the hard shells of turtles.
Jaguars hunt both in the day and at night and usually travel up to 6 miles a night when hunting.
Unlike many domestic cats, jaguars don’t avoid water. They often live near lakes, rivers and wetlands, and are confident swimmers, known to cross large rivers.
Threats to the jaguar species
Jaguars are classified as near-threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The species has national protections in almost every country it’s found, and trade in its parts is banned.
Two threats are taking a heavy toll on jaguars: habitat depletion due to conversion of forest for development and agriculture, and conflict with humans over the loss of livestock.
Jaguars used to be found from the Southwest region of the USA, throughout South America to almost the far north in Argentina. Now, they’ve unfortunately been virtually eliminated from half of their historic range. There’s also concern that a formal national and international trade may be emerging in jaguar parts.
Action is required to reduce forest habitat loss, which will also enable the jaguar’s prey base to recover. Educating communities and implementing improved livestock protection will also diminish human-jaguar conflict and encourage co-existence. Strengthening anti-poaching legislation will also protect future generations of jaguars.
It is extremely important to save this species from extinction. Jaguars are the top predators in their environment, so they play an important role in controlling the populations of other species. This helps keep a balance in the food chain, and a healthy environment.
How can we protect the jaguar?
The big question is how can YOU help save this remarkable big cat?!
One significant way to help save this species is by educating yourself about what is affecting the loss of Jaguars.
Another way that you can help is by donating to organizations such as Rescate, WWF, and other conservation organizations focused on saving species such as the Jaguar from extinction.
A third way you can help Jaguars is to help save their habitat of the Amazon Rainforest. Ask how your food and other purchases have been produced. Is your furniture, for example, made of wood from the Amazon? And, if so, is the wood sustainably harvested and certified to prove it? Many of the world’s most endangered species live in forests. One of the best ways to protect forests like the Amazon so that wildlife thrive is to buy products that have the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) label.
On November 29th, remember to take a moment to celebrate the Jaguar! Without your support and help, these amazing big cats may soon become extinct.
Please donate to Rescate Wildlife here . It’s an ideal way to observe International Jaguar Day.