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 either of both of these continents. Male Jaguars are approximately 100Kg and females about 80 Kg. The only cats bigger than the Jaguar would be the Lion and the Tiger.
Even though it is predominately a South American species, it’s found in central and North America too. From the northerly portions of its range it competes with the Cougar. The Jaguar ranges from Argentina in the south to Texas in the North.
The Jaguar can be confused with a Leopard. The Leopard comes from Africa, Europe and Asia, so no confusion regarding identification must occur in the wild. Jaguars have dots within their rosettes while Leopards don’t.
The term Panther is confusing. It is sometimes used for any black, or near black Leopard or Jaguar. Black Jaguars are more common in the dense rainforest parts of the creature’s range. The ones that come from the more open areas tend to have the spotted pattern generally related to this animal.
Hunting for Fur
In the past, huge numbers of Jaguars were killed for their fur. The wearing of genuine fur is less fashionable at the moment, and the fur trade has been reduced. Hunting of Jaguars does still occur, but the biggest long term threat is the loss of their habitat. The Amazon Jungle has been cleared.
Although a Jaguar is a strong animal and might definitely kill a Human, most of them do not. There is evidence of them following individuals, but most times they don’t attack.
On the other hand, Jaguars are a true 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 land is the Human Being. However, there are a good deal of Humans and Jaguars frequently come into conflict with our savage and destructive species.
The Jaguar isn’t in immediate danger of extinction although the trend at present is in that direction with generally decreasing numbers and rapid clearing of its habitat.
Although cats have the reputation of not drinking water, Jaguars seem quite pleased to get wet. They are powerful swimmers and are great at catching fish.