The Jaguar, scientifically known as Panthera onca, is the third largest feline, after the tiger and the lion. They can be found in the forests, swamps, dry woodland and grasslands of Central and South America. This species prefers dense forests with thick cover and water nearby. Its highest population density is found in the Amazon Basin. This feline most closely resembles the leopard physically (from its appearance); although it is usually larger. Its behavioral characteristics and habitat are closer to those of the tiger.
The Jaguars have a body length of about 3.5 – 6.25 feet, where the tail comprises of 18 – 30 inches. The height is 21.5 – 30 inches and they weigh between 36 and 160 kg. With no exception, females are 20% smaller than males. The size tends to increase from North to South. The Jaguar is compact and well muscled. The claws and limbs are developed for climbing, swimming and crouching. Jaw is powerful like other cats. The black Jaguars are far less common than the spotted form. They are known as Panthers or black Leopards. Jaguars are solitary, apart from a mother with cubs, and they only meet for mating. Their territory ranges between 30 and 150 km. The diet mainly consists of deer, tapirs, peccaries, sloth, monkeys, fish, reptiles and domestic livestock. After a gestation period of 91 – 111 days commonly 2 cubs are born in a den. They are born blind, gaining sight within 14 days.
Excluding a known and possibly breeding population in Arizona, the cat has largely been extirpated from the United States since the early 20th century. The jaguar is a near threatened species and the count is decreasing. Threats include habitat loss and fragmentation. While international trade in jaguars or their parts is prohibited, the cat is still frequently killed by humans, particularly in conflicts with ranchers and farmers in South America.