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An Epic Endeavor to Save the Jaguar Corridor

We’re in a race against time.

Travel with Panthera deep into jaguar range where the very future of an iconic species hangs in the balance. From Mexico to Argentina, the Journey of the Jaguar will shine a light on the progress being made to protect jaguars, and the challenges in places where they are most at risk.

Will jaguars be able to thrive in a developing world, or will they slide toward extinction like tigers and lions? The actions we take today will decide.

Patrick Meier

“The fact that jaguars have been more resilient and, in many ways, more lucky in their survival than other big cats is EXACTLY why we should focus our attention and conservation efforts on them.”

Dr. Alan Rabinowitz


The Jaguar Corridor

Almost two decades ago, Panthera co-founder Dr. Alan Rabinowitz catalyzed a profound shift in jaguar conservation. All jaguars, it had recently been discovered, shared the same DNA. That genetic integrity, preserved across thousands of miles, meant that jaguars were living and breeding and dispersing along a connected path throughout the entirety of their range. To save the jaguar, Dr. Rabinowitz proposed, would require ensuring their safe passage along that path, from northern Mexico to northern Argentina. Christening it the Jaguar Corridor, Dr. Rabinowitz set the stage for one of the most ambitious conservation efforts in the world.

The 5,000 mile Jaguar Corridor meanders through protected areas, as well as places where humans have also made their mark: citrus groves, cattle ranches, palm oil plantations, and even the Panama Canal. It is in these mostly unprotected corridors where jaguars encounter the most danger. Loss of habitat and natural prey, plus increased encounters with humans that are often deadly to the cats, can lead to the isolation of jaguar populations. Their gene pools become more shallow, diminishing their legendary resilience. From isolation, it’s a slippery slope to extinction.

Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative seeks to protect jaguars across their entire range. In partnership with governments, corporations, and local communities, Panthera is working to preserve the genetic integrity of the jaguar by protecting core jaguar populations and the vital connectivity that has sustained them for hundreds of thousands of years.

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Remembering Alan

No person’s name is more closely associated with jaguar conservation than that of Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, Panthera’s co-founder and CEO, and later, Chief Scientist, who passed away in August of 2018. Read about him here.

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Know the jaguar

 

 

 

LATIN NAMEPanthera onca

VARIOUSLY KNOWN AS | jaguar, yaguareté, and el tigre

IUCN CONSERVATION STATUSNear Threatened

LIFE SPANUp to 16 years in the wild

 

 

 

The jaguar has fascinated human beings for millennia, an iconic symbol of wildness and raw power that inspires both worship and fear. Indeed, this mysterious, muscular creature is one of contradictions: comfortable on land and in water, at home in the arid scrublands of Mexico and the lush jungles of Brazil, unfazed by the snapping jaws of a caiman, but afraid of a donkey. A study in contrasts, like the distinctive black rosettes on its golden fur, the jaguar is both a deadly predator and increasingly vulnerable prey.

  • Relative to its weight, jaguars have the strongest bite force of all big cats, which they use to crush the head of their prey.
  • Caiman, capybara and peccary are favorite foods in the jaguar’s varied diet, although a domestic cow can make an easy meal where cattle graze unprotected.
  • The jaguar has very broad feet with distinctly stubby and splayed digits. These paws are perfect for navigating muddy ground and act as swimming paddles.
  • Jaguars’ spots are known as rosettes. Like fingerprints, each jaguar has its own unique set of rosettes that scientists use to identify them.
  • Black jaguars have a genetic mutation, but are the same species. They occur more in the lowland tropical forests of Brazil and Bolivia.
  • Jaguars are, for the most part, solitary creatures. Although their territories often overlap with other jaguars, they keep their distance through roars and spray marking.

 

Range

Jaguars are found in 18 countries in Latin America, from Northern Mexico to Northern Argentina. While the rare individual has been spotted in the United States, there hasn’t been evidence of a breeding population in the U.S. in more than 50 years.

 

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Threats

During the 1960s and 1970s, the jaguar was heavily hunted for its fur; as many as 18,000 jaguars were killed each year until 1973, when the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) brought the pelt trade to a near halt. Today, the biggest threats facing jaguars are still human-caused.

Habitat Conversion

The widespread conversion of land for ranching and commercial agriculture consumes the habitat used by jaguars and their prey, and fragments jaguar populations—making them vulnerable to isolation and ultimate extinction.

Cattle Conflict

With ranches dominating their habitat and natural prey scarce in these deforested landscapes, cattle become easy pickings for a hungry jaguar. The loss of livestock can prompt a rancher to kill a jaguar in retaliation, or even preventively to guard against future losses.

Human Activity

In developing areas, new roads and highways, dams, and other infrastructure pose an increasing danger to jaguars. Illegal mining pollutes jaguars’ water and food sources with dangerous chemical.

Emerging Threat: Poaching

Poaching of jaguars for their skins, claws, bones, and teeth is on the rise in some parts of Latin America. As wild tigers become increasingly scarce, hunters are targeting jaguars to feed the illegal trade in big cat parts coveted for use in traditional Asian medicines.

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