Affected by: Habitat loss and fragmentation , Human wildlife conflict , Illegal wildlife trade
A symbol of the enigmatic power of the Amazon, the jaguar is the largest cat in the Americas. Jaguars have unusually large, round heads, short legs and a stunning coat dotted with dark rosettes and spots.
They often live near water and are good swimmers. A jaguar’s ultra-strong jaws and teeth can bite through a crocodile skull or turtle shell, but they’ll prey on almost anything they come across – including deer, armadillos, monkeys and lizards.
With its forest home increasingly being destroyed, and conflict growing with farmers and ranchers, the jaguar is under serious pressure. Jaguars now occupy less than half of their historical range. They’re so elusive that we don’t know exactly how many are left in the wild – but we do know their numbers are dropping. Help us protect these enigmatic cats.
Where jaguars live
You could once find jaguars all the way from the south-western USA down to the scrublands of central Argentina. Now they’re mainly confined to the rainforests of the Amazon basin, and in the nearby Pantanal wetlands – less than half of their historic range.
Jaguars often live near lakes, rivers and wetlands, and prefer to avoid open forests and grasslands.
Why jaguars are so important
Jaguars are the top predators in their environment, so they play an important role in controlling the populations of other species. This helps keep a balance in the food chain, and a healthy environment.
By protecting jaguars and the places where they live, we’re also helping to look after other wildlife – of which there are a lot of in the Amazon and Pantanal – as well as the people who live and work around there.