The Amazing Jaguar! 15 Awesome Facts and Astonishing Myths

An incredibly interesting animal! Oh, and photogenic!

I am getting ready to go to Brazil to photograph the Jaguars in the Pantanal regions in preparation for the Jaguars and Wildlife of the Pantanal Photography Tour. One key to improving your photography is to learn as mush as you can about your subject; I think it significantly improves the quality of my photography. Here are few things that I have learned about the Jaguar.

Awesome Jaguar Facts

  • Height: 25 – 30 inches at the shoulders; females are smaller
  • Length: 43 – 75 inches; females are smaller
  • Weight: 79 – 211 lbs, but individual males have been recorded up to 350 lbs
  • Lifespan: 12 years
  • Collective Noun: Jamboree or Shadow
  • Baby Name: Cub

Jaguar!

Jaguars are the largest cat in the western hemisphere and 3rd largest in the world. The only place to see them is in the Americas. The biggest remaining population is residing in the Pantanal of Brazil, which is where I will be taking my clients!

The last official siting of Jaguars in the US was in 1940. There have been Many scattered rumors of sightings in Texas and Arizona have existed for some time, but now the re-appearance of the species has been confirmed by the dept of wildlife after trail cams spotted two males in December of 2016.

Jaguars stay close to water, and they like to fish and have been recorded using their tails as a “lure” to catch fish.

Their name comes from the Native American word “yajuar.” Yajuar means “he who kills with one leap.”

Unlike most Big Cats, the Jaguar kills its prey by crushing the skull. At 2000psi their bite is the strongest of all of the Big Cats and twice that of the second-place tiger. Jaguars bite pressure ranks number 4 of all mammals.

There are Melanistic (Black) Jaguars.

The Jaguar is an apex predator and has no natural enemies. Humans have hunted and killed them for sport and fashion for hundreds of years pushing them towards extinction. Human destruction and the loss of habitat are the primary cause of the decreasing population. There are only 15,000 wild Jaguars in the world.

Jackie Kennedy and many celebrities inadvertently caused the destruction of tens of thousands of Jaguars after wearing coats made from their pelts. In the 1960s the fashion industry imported the fur of more than 250,000 Jaguars.

Astonishing Myths About Jaguars

Mayan Jaguar Temple - Belize

Mayan Jaguar Temple – Belize

All of the indigenous people of Latin and South America held the Jaguar in reverence or fear. The Jaguar was a symbol of war and magic for the Aztecs. The Mayans, on the other hand, believed they were a symbol of the underworld.

The Jaguar hunts on land, in the air (trees) and in the water causing the Native Americans to believe that they were the ruler of all animals and the equal of man.

There is a myth surrounding the Jaguar’s spots. The story goes that Jaguar was an ordinary brown color and was jealous of the Leopard’s beautiful spots. This vanity prompted the Jaguar to walk through the mud and print her paw prints all over the Jaguar’s body, thus creating the distinct rosette shape of its spots.

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