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Endangered Species Report: Jaguar

923 words - 4 pages

Jaguars are part of exclusive group known as the “big cats,” which include the lion, tiger, and panther. The scientific name for this species is Panthera Onca. Panthera is a Greek term originating from the Latin word for panther while Onca is derived from the Latin word for lynx. Most Central and South American countries refer to the Jaguar as “el tigre” or the tiger. This is the only big cat found in the New World (western hemisphere) and the only one in the entire genus. The entire taxonomy classification is as follows: Kingdom- Animalia, Phylum- Chordata, Class- Mammalia, Order- Carnivora, Family- Felidae, Genus- Panthera, Species- Panthera Onca.
The range for the jaguar is fairly extensive. Its historical range started in the southern United States and stretched all the way down through Central America to cover most of South America. Fossils have been found as far north as Missouri, Illinois, and Tennessee with jaguars they may have weighed in at around 420 pounds (Museum). Now, due to various reason such as habitat fragmentation, hunting, and other human interference, the range starts in the southwestern area of the United States. It was thought that the jaguar was extirpated from the United States but sightings have been reported in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The northern extent of the range has receded southward about 1000 kilometers and the southern extent about 2000 kilometers northward. The range still flows through Central America but it has become extinct in El Salvador and Uruaguy (IUCN). The southern tip of the range occupies mid to southern South America, covering parts of Argentina and Brazil. The numbers typically increase from north to south. Jaguars are usually found in dense rain forest and that is a large reason why so many of them are found in Brazil, a country with continuous rain forest. They are also found in more open and drier areas but they are known to live near a major source of water.

Of all of the big cats, the jaguar is the third largest. It resembles the leopard but possesses a more powerful, sturdy body structure, more robust head, and shorter tail. Its strong and stocky limbs help make it more adept to do certain activities such as swimming, crawling, and climbing. Many jaguars have been known to even enjoy swimming from time to time (Defenders). The weights and heights of jaguars generally depend on the amount of prey available in the habitat and the sex. Most sexually mature adult jaguars weigh in at a range of 120 - 210 pounds but larger cats have been found to weigh around 290 – 330 pounds. Their shoulders come up to about 27 – 30 off of the ground and the length reaches 5 – 6 feet with females usually being 10-20 percent shorter than males (Save 2). Jaguars are known for their distinct appearance with their tawny-yellow background color (which fades to white toward the...

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