Third largest of all the cat species after the lion and the tiger, the jaguar faces the same threats as a great many other animals – primarily, the destruction of its natural habitat through deforestation and land development. The jaguar is classified as ‘Near Threatened’ on the IUCN Red List, which can be interpreted as meaning that the jaguar is on the verge of being threatened with exctinction.
The jaguar was hunted heavily in the 1960s and 1970s for it’s incredibly beautiful coat but thankfully this trade, which resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of jaguars each year is no longer legal.
Jaguars are still killed regularly by mankind where they come into contact with humans while searching for sources of food – primarily livestock, though also domestic animals and pets. Some farmers and ranchers have gone so far as to employ jaguar hunters on a permanent basis in order to mitigate the attacks on their livestock. The over-hunting of the jaguar’s primary food sources – such as deer – by humans has also been a contributory factor in the decline of the jaguar population.
While there are several species of large cat who are in significantly greater danger of imminent extinction, the Jaguar is considered to be an ‘umbrella species’ – meaning that it shares its threatened habitat with a number of species with similar habitat needs – this means that jaguar conservation efforts aimed preserving their natural habitat will also directly benefit numerous other species of animal.
Native to South America, the jaguar has already lost 40% of it’s range due to destruction of its habitat by humans, poaching and growth in the human population. It is now known to be extinct in Uruguay and El Salvador. It is widely protected by laws in individual latin american countries, although the hunting of animals deemed to be a ‘problem’ is allowed in some cases. Jaguars were once common in the United States, and individual animals are spotted a couple of times per year – however there has not been a breeding colony located in the US for well over 50 years.
By choosing to sponsor a jaguar you will be assisting the WWF in their efforts to protect this big cat before it is too late.