The Only Panthera of the Americas: The Jaguar

I was going to say ‘big cat’ instead of ‘Panthera’ (the genus), but I thought some people would argue that there are pumas and mountain lions in the Americas.  I never really understood why those aren’t considered big cats, but cheetahs are.  Anyway, we’re here about the jaguar.

This animal is steeped in mythology and lore.  They’ve been symbols of power and strength in many indigenous cultures.  I couldn’t even begin to list how often it turns up in stories and artifacts.  The point is that the jaguar is a very important animal to nature, human history, and human culture.

Where to even begin?

  • Jaguars are apex predators and the third largest cat behind lions and tigers.
  • They are stalk and ambush predators.
  • Their bite force is enough to crack turtle shells.
  • They will even hunt and kill caiman.
  • Jaguars are excellent swimmers.
  • They require a large range and can be used to check the health of an ecosystem.
  • They are solitary animals.

Interestingly enough, the jaguar is the least likely of the big cats to kill and eat a human.  They will only attack when cornered even though they have a long-standing reputation as being man-eaters.  This comes from the Spanish conquistadors being afraid of them even though locals said jaguars wouldn’t attack as long as they had enough capybaras to hunt and eat.  In fact, the first official lethal attack by a jaguar on a human was in 2008.  So, they’re kind of scary in reputation, but not murderous creatures.  That doesn’t mean you try to give them a hug though.

Of course, jaguars are considered ‘near threatened’, which comes a lot from their reputation and beauty.  Habitat loss results in jaguars and humans interacting more than they should.  They’re killed to protect livestock, pets, or simply out of fear.  There’s also the illegal fur trade.  Jaguars have gorgeous coats, so there is a big problem with poaching.  That’s why there are many programs to try and save them like the WCS.

Finally, there are black jaguars.  They aren’t a different species like people think.  Now for the fun pictures and videos.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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16 Responses to The Only Panthera of the Americas: The Jaguar

  1. I always get excited when I see the rare bit about one drifting into Arizona. Story is they used to reside there, but only rarely cross the border now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. They sure are beautiful.

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  3. That black Jaguar was spectacular. Excellent video on the ten facts. The cubs were cute.

    Like

  4. V.M.Sang says:

    Such beautiful animals. It’s such a pity they are endangered. And worrying, too. Lose the apex predator and unforseen and dangerous things can occur.
    When I was teaching science here in the UK, one of the science books told the story of a national park in the US. I forget which one. Anyway, this park decided to remove the wolves as they were killing the deer. So, with no predators, the deer bred and ate the vegetation, destroying much, and trees, too. This led to a decline in species that relied on the vegetation. They decided that the wolves were important, so reintroduced them. Things then got back in balance.
    So if we lose the jaguars, what might happen? (This applies to all endangered species, too.)

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    • I believe that park was Yellowstone. Although, I think part of the situation was that agriculture reduced the amount of deer, so the wolves went after livestock. This was back in the early 1900’s if I remember it correctly. By the way, weren’t wolves wiped out in the UK back in the 1800’s? Did any animal step up to be the new apex predator?

      If jaguars went extinct, it would have a ripple effect. Rodent populations would increase, which would result in a reduction of bug and plant species. So, forests and jungles would start to recede.

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      • V.M.Sang says:

        Yes, you’re right, Charles. It was Yellowstone.
        As to Wolves in Britain, we are smaller predators such as foxes, but deer do need culling so numbers don’t get too big. Sadly, many people don’t appreciate this need and get their knickers in a twist whenever there’s a cull.

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      • That happens on Long Island too. Deers destroy some areas, but people from non-deer areas get upset when a culling happens.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Jaq says:

    Beautiful creatures. I’ve always said my last words were likely to be, “Here kitty kitty…”

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  6. Pingback: *Press This* The Only Panthera of the Americas: The Jaguar #255 | Its good to be crazy Sometimes

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