Conservation

The animal is considered 'near threatened' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

The major risks to the jaguar include:

  • deforestation across its habitat
  • increasing competition for food with humans
  • poaching
  • hurricanes in northern parts of its range
  • the behaviour of ranchers who will often kill the cat where it preys on livestock

The jaguar is regulated as an appendix I species under CITES which means:

  • all international trade in jaguars or their parts is prohibited
  • all hunting of jaguars is prohibited in Argentina, Belize, Colombia, French Guiana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Surinam, the United States (where it is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act), Uruguay and Venezuela
  • hunting jaguars is restricted to ‘problem animals’ in Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru, while trophy hunting is still permitted in Bolivia
  • the species has no legal protection in Ecuador or Guyana

Management

Current conservation efforts focus on educating ranch owners and promoting eco-tourism.

The jaguar is defined as an ‘umbrella species’ - a species whose home range and habitat requirements are sufficiently broad that if protected, numerous other species of smaller range will also be protected.

In 1991, 600–1,000 jaguars - the highest total to date - were estimated to be living in Belize.

In 2003 and 2004, researchers using GPS-telemetry found only 6 or 7 jaguars per 100 square kilometres in the Pantanal region of Brazil.

Jaguar conservation occurs by protecting jaguar hotspots. These hotspots are large areas populated by about 50 jaguars.

To maintain the species it is important that the jaguar gene pool is mixed, and this depends on jaguars being interconnected. A new project, the Paseo del Jaguar has been established to connect jaguar hotspots.