Central & South America
The jaguar is an icon of wildness in the Americas. With a range that once spanned from the arid southwest of the United States all the way to Argentina’s pampas grasslands, today they inhabit less than half of their former territory, with their largest stronghold in and around the Amazon Basin.
Jaguars are a single species (with no sub-species) and need to migrate and breed across their entire range. With more and more forests across Central and South America being cleared for agriculture and other forms of development, maintaining forested corridors between Jaguar Conservation Units – areas of sufficient size and prey base to support a current or potential population of at least 50 breeding cats – is essential not only for jaguars but so many other species that represent the unique biodiversity of the region.
Maintaining corridors across occupied and often private lands requires the assent, participation, and continuing tolerance of affected landowners and communities, as well as the official endorsement and enabling framework of government policy. It is also important to help ranchers minimize livestock predation by jaguars and resist retaliatory killing of these iconic and culturally significant animals. While many challenges exist, at a recent United Nations forum, 14 national governments in jaguar range states committed to work together to map out the jaguar’s future. The leaders identified habitat protection as vital, especially the urgent need to secure key corridors before they are lost forever. They also strategized ways to reduce widespread hunting of jaguars and their prey, address the apparent uptick in the illegal trade of jaguar parts, and recognized the importance of helping local communities and ranchers minimize conflicts with jaguars.
The Foundation has invested over $4.7 million to date for scientific research and monitoring to identify key habitats and corridors, advocate for the protection of core protected areas and corridors, improve ranching practices to minimize human wildlife conflict, and more. We work in partnership with local communities, governments, and NGOs to achieve our goal of a healthy future for jaguars and all species and people who depend upon and share these extraordinary landscapes.
Jaguar Image: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS