The rapidly disappearing jaguar is a strong, elegant creature that demands respect through its powerful stature and beautiful appearance. The features that made ancient civilizations worship the jaguar as a god are now leading to its extinction. Once symbolizing royalty and bravery in warfare, the jaguar now symbolizes a threat to man and an expensive fur coat. There are many threats to the jaguar's survival, all of which have been brought on by man.
Through deforestation the jaguar's habitat is diminishing daily, leaving an ever-decreasing territory in which to hunt and care for young. Ranchers often kill jaguars on site, believing livestock to be one of the jaguar's main sources of food. Heartless poachers murder mercilessly, only caring about the price a jaguar's pelt will fetch on the black market. Extinction is all too familiar in the world today. Without conservation methods to help protect the jaguar, he will join the long list of endangered species that have disappeared off the face of the earth.
Currently, the jaguar's habitat ranges widely through Central America & South America. However, the jaguar is very rare in Central America except for in the country Belize. Each jaguar defends a territory anywhere from two to two hundred square miles depending on the abundance of prey. (Bateman, 40) The jaguar is the largest wild cat and the only member of the genus Panthera in the Americas. Not only a forest cat, jaguars also inhabit swamps, savannas, scrub, and deserts. Most comfortable in areas relatively close to water, the jaguar is most common in swamps and forests. However the savanna jaguar is known to be almost twice the size of the forest jaguar. The name jaguar comes from the Tupi Guarani word, yaguara, which means "wild beast that overcomes its prey in a single bound." (Foster,