Our final Monthly Mammal holds many titles: the main predator in the Amazon, the largest big cat species in the Americas, and the third largest in the world.
We dedicate December to the powerful and mysterious jaguar.
This year, Nature and Culture marveled at the magnificent world of mammals. To commemorate the wonder of our warm-blooded friends, and to raise awareness about the crucial role these animals play in caring for our planet, we featured unique mammals found in our project areas. We celebrated a “living fossil,” South America’s only bear species, and more!
As our monthly mammals come to a close, we dedicate December to a majestic creature found in every country that we work in. Sleek, powerful, and elusive, the jaguar is one of the most iconic mammals in the Americas.
Most jaguars are tan or orange with distinctive black spots, dubbed “rosettes” because they are shaped like roses. Some jaguars are so dark they appear to be spotless, though their markings can be seen on closer inspection.
Jaguars once roamed from the southern tip of South America north to the region surrounding the U.S.-Mexico border. Today significant numbers are found only in remote regions of the Americas – particularly in the Amazon Basin.
With muscular limbs and large paws, jaguars are built for life in the tropical rainforest. Unlike many other cats, they enjoy a good dip and are strong swimmers. The species can also survive in other habitats, from grasslands to deserts.
Researchers have counted over 85 species in the jaguar diet, including aquatic creatures and terrestrial animals. Their large jaw muscles even allow them to eat spectacled caimans and hard-shelled reptiles.
These beautiful beasts have captured the imagination of humans since ancient times. The name jaguar is derived from the Native American word yaguar, which means “he who kills with one leap.”
As a top-level carnivore, the big cat helps maintain a diversity of species, regulating prey numbers and competing with smaller carnivores. Jaguars are also important in human culture, frequently playing a central role in stories, songs, and prayers of indigenous people.
Yet today, jaguars face extinction. Populations in the Americas are falling due to habitat destruction, hunting, and conflict with humans.
At Nature and Culture, you play a key role in protecting jaguars throughout Latin America. From Bolivia’s Chaco to Mexico’s tropical dry forest, your support safeguards vast areas of land so that jaguars and other far-ranging species can thrive.
Our Monte Mojino Reserve in Mexico conserves 18,211 acres for the northernmost jaguar population in Sonora. Until a few years ago, researchers thought jaguars only passed through the area. However, after starting a monitoring program, one of our camera traps snapped a photo of pregnant jaguar, La Meche. That’s a sign of a resident population!
Thank you for celebrating the world of mammals with us! As 2020 approaches, we remain committed to building a better world for all mammals, but with a new monthly feature… Stay tuned!
This season, you can protect Latin America’s jaguars and other mammals – with twice the impact! We invite you to join our end-of-year campaign where your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar through December 31.