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.