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The Jaguar

The Jaguar, Panthera onca, is the only member of the Panthera genus native to the Americas.  It is also the largest member of the cat family in either of these two continents. Male Jaguars are about 100Kg and females about 80 Kg.

The only cats bigger than the Jaguar are the Lion and the Tiger.


Although it is predominately a South American species, it is found in central and North America as well.  In the northerly parts of its range it competes with the Cougar.  The Jaguar ranges from Argentina in the south to Texas in the North.

Confusion with the Leopard

The Jaguar is sometimes confused with a Leopard.  The Leopard comes from Africa, Europe and Asia, so no confusion about identification should occur in the wild.  The Leopard is somewhat smaller on average.  Jaguars have dots inside their rosettes while Leopards do not.

Black Panthers

The word Panther is confusing.  It is sometimes used for any black, or near black Leopard or Jaguar.  Panther is also one of the many names for the Puma

Black Jaguars are more common in the dense rainforest parts of this animal’s range.  The ones that come from the more open areas tend to have the spotted pattern generally associated with this animal.

Hunting for Fur

In the past, huge numbers of Jaguars were killed for their beautiful fur.  The wearing of real 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 is being cleared.

Man Eating

Although a Jaguar is a powerful animal and could definitely kill a Human, most of them do not. There is evidence of them following people, but most times they do not attack.


On the other hand, Jaguars are a real threat to domestic animals.  They will even kill cattle and horses several times their size.

Some years ago some sheep were brought from Australia.  Many were killed in the first night.


The only predator that the Jaguar has on land is the Human Being.  However, there are a lot of Humans and Jaguars often come into conflict with our savage and destructive species.

Near Threatened

The Jaguar is not in immediate danger of extinction although the trend at present is in that direction with generally decreasing numbers and rapid clearing of its preferred habitat.


Although cats have the reputation of not liking water, Jaguars seem quite happy to get wet. They are powerful swimmers and are good at catching fish.

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