Jaguars, the third largest cat species behind the lion and tiger is listed as “near threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
As with many other species whose numbers are falling, man poses the biggest threat to the jaguar. Threats include:
- Hunting by ranchers that believe jaguars are a threat to their livelihoods
- Poachers who sell pelts illegally
- Overhunting of the cat’s prey, such as deer
- Posing the largest threat is reduction of their natural habitat due to land development
An article in the March 2013 Cat Fancy magazine describes the efforts of a non-profit organization called Panthera, whose goal is to develop the Jaguar Corridor. The Jaguar Corridor Initiative is the largest carnivore connectivity project ever undertaken. Their goal is to link all jaguar populations from northern Argentina to Mexico. Doing this will ensure the species genetic diversity and help them survive.
Protecting the corridors will give the cats more natural habitat to hunt, roam and breed. Panthera has government and community support, and is working on conservation efforts with 13 of 18 countries in Central and South America that have jaguar populations.
Another Panthera-led program, the Pantanal Jaguar Project, educates and works with local ranchers on the importance of conserving the jaguar population. Workers teach how to reduce conflicts between the big cats and cattle. They’ve also recruited former poachers to become the cat’s protectors.
If you’d like to learn more about Panthera, go to panthera.org