Creatures of the Amazon
The Jaguar

By Mike Collis
The Jaguar (Panthera onca) once had a range that stretched from Arizona in North America to Argentina in the south. This range has been drastically reduced by man's hunger for expansion and fur. Now South America's largest cat is only found in Central and South America. The population in Argentina is now less than 200. Here in Peru it is estimated that only 15,000 of these magnificent creatures remain. All sub-species of the Jaguar are endangered and many are extinct except in zoos.

The Jaguar, known in Peru as the Otorongo, grows up to 6 feet long, with a tail of up to 30 inches in length. A full grown male can weigh up to 250lbs and females up to 200lbs. Adults live alone, but the cubs stay with their mother for up to 2 years then they go out and find their own hunting territory, the size of which depends on food availiabilty. If there is plenty of food an area with a diameter of 3 miles is normal, if the food is scare the area can stretch over 200 miles. The largest population of jaguars live in the Orinoco Basin in Venezuela in other parts of South America they live in wild areas but are endangered.

Jaguars are mostly nocturnal hunting mainly at night, and they well eat anything from tiny rodents to dear. Their main tactic is to lie in wait for their prey and then ambush the victim. These cats can run short distances to catch their prey but they become tired quickly. Jaguars are very good swimmers and like to catch and eat fish, turtles, and caimen. They sometimes encroach on human areas and take farm animals as well as cats and dogs . In 2007 a 3 year old girl was taken by a Jaguar near a village on the Nanay River not far from Iquitos. The local men tracked the animal and killed it.
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