The jaguar's struggle for survival

The jaguar's struggle for survival

The iconic feline's future is at stake

Strong and muscular, the jaguar is the largest cat in the Americas and the third largest in the world, after the lion and the tiger. Its characteristic black patches act as a form of camouflage in dense vegetation — yet many still fall victim to hunters. Today, industrial agriculture is the biggest threat to the jaguar's survival.

The jaguar's struggle for survival

Struggle to survive in Brazil

According to estimates, there are still 60,000 jaguars in the wild. These nimble hunters prefer densely forested areas, but are also present in wetlands, savannas and semi-deserts. The largest jaguar population lives in the Brazilian Pantanal wetland area on the Bolivian border. However, even this species-rich biosphere reserve is under threat from industrialization and deforestation.

The jaguar's struggle for survival

Seeking refuge in the treetops

The Amazon bursts its banks at least once a year, flooding many areas of rainforest. The jaguars then shelter in the treetops and hunt, eat and sleep there for up to four months a year. Even though jaguars can weigh up to 100 kilograms, they are very skilled climbers and can easily reach the treetops.

The jaguar's struggle for survival

Soy over jaguars

Thick rainforests that served as a good habitat for jaguars used to be common in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso in the southern part of the Amazon. But landowners have deforested the area and replaced the trees with soybean crops. The harvest is used for industrial livestock production or exported to Europe. Further deforestation threatens hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of habitat.

The jaguar's struggle for survival

Raised by the mother

At birth, jaguar cubs are blind and can't see until after nearly two weeks. Mothers do most of the rearing and feed the babies for a half year, although occasionally fathers also take care of their offspring. At the age of one to two years, they leave their parents and seek a new area of their own. A jaguar needs a range of 25 to 150 square kilometers in order to survive.

The jaguar's struggle for survival

Off to Mexico

The jaguar is on the list of endangered species and trading its fur is banned. Although the total number of animals has declined in recent years, the jaguar is still not at the edge of extinction. In some areas, their number has even increased. It was once seriously endangered in Mexico, for example, but recently 4,800 jaguars were counted in the country — an increase of 20 percent since 2010.

Jaguars roam freely from Mexico to Argentina, mostly in the Amazon basin. They used to live in some parts of the United States as well. But the big cats' habitats are shrinking due to deforestation and industrialization.

   

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