A Symbol Of Strength
Of all the big cats, the jaguar remains the least studied. While some information comes from the wild, most of what is known about jaguars has been learned from captive animals.
What is known about jaguars is that they are solitary animals, meeting only to mate. The young stay with their mother for a few years before leaving to find their own territory. At about three years, they are fully mature and able to mate
Jaguars range mainly in Mexico, Central, and South America. Some sparse sites have been recorded in Texas, Arizona, southern California, and New Mexico. They live mainly in forests and swamplands. Jaguars are excellent swimmers, and are the most water loving of the all the apex cats.
The jaguar is one of the rarest of the big cats. This unfortunately is due to human intervention. One cause is the destruction of the jaguars environment from deforestation for mining and timber. Some have also been hunted to protect livestock. A greater cause, however, is the fact that this beautiful cat has been an unfortunate victim of the fur trade. Beginning in the early 1900's, large scale hunting and export of jaguar pelts has greatly reduced the population. Although there was a decline in the 60's, the number of pelts exported was still high ( as many as 13, 516 in 1968 for example). Although the jaguar was put on the endangered species list in the 1970's, illegal trade and poaching still reduces numbers. Although there are conservation efforts, illegal activity continues to make the future of the jaguar uncertain.