Jaguars are the only species of big cat found on the American continent. They range as far south as Argentina, and once roamed as far north as the Grand Canyon in the U.S. Today the northernmost breeding population is in the northwest Mexican state of Sonora, just south of the border with Arizona.
In the Americas, the jaguar has long been an icon and symbol of power and connection to the spiritual world in mythology, philosophies, culture and art. Jaguars are apex predators with diverse diets that include more than 85 different prey species. This gives them a specific but prominent role in each ecosystem where they are found.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies jaguars as “near threatened,” with total population estimates ranging between 64,000 and 173,000. But evidence shows that local populations across the continent are decreasing at alarming rates. Jaguars’ total range has shrunk by more than half in the past 70 years, mainly because of hunting and habitat loss.
Could jaguars return to the Southwest U.S.? Some experts think it’s possible. Jaguars from southern populations in Mexico could recolonize their former territories in Arizona and New Mexico, or humans could reintroduce them there...MORE