Jaguar In North America: Everything You Need To Know

Last Updated on April 15, 2024 by Amin Tawar

Jaguar In North America
Jaguar In North America: Everything You Need To Know

Home to awe-inspiring diverse wildlife and landscapes, North America is one of those continents that is blessed with a range of flora and fauna. It is also home to all types of biomes from the Arctic Tundra in the north to the dense forests, mountains, deserts, and coastal lines. 

No wonder the continent inhabits a variety of terrestrials as well as marine lifeforms including big cats. Big cats are a term used to refer to the 5 living members of the Panthera genus namely tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard, snow leopard, and non-pantherine cheetah and cougar. 

But does the continent host all the big cats? What about Jaguars?

Below I’ve explained everything you need to know about the only big cat found in the North American continent and its presence in the U.S.A.

Are Jaguars Found in North America?

Yes, Jaguars are found in North America. In fact, Jaguars are the only species of big cats found on the continent. These feline creatures are found in South America and a few parts of the North American continent, especially in Mexico.

These apex predators were once found even in the northernmost Grand Canyon. However, due to extensive predator control programs and hunting these wild cats were decimated in the early 20th century.

Is There a North American Jaguar?

Yes, North American jaguars are the Jaguars found in the North American continent. Their range is from the southwest U.S. to Central America. These cats are also called “American jaguars” for similar meanings.

While once prevalent throughout their range, the population has drastically decreased in the last decade and was almost eradicated in 1960 from the United States. 

Since 1996, male jaguars have been identified in the southeast of Arizona however, no cubs or female jaguars have been reported. The last female jaguar in the U.S. died in 1949.

Compared to the U.S., there are Jaguars widely present in the northeast corner of Sonora state in Mexico which consists of the Cajon Bonito stream. Jaguars along with other large animals like bears are found in this stream which flows from the west slope of the San Luis Mountain range in the continental divide.

Are There Black Jaguars in North America?

Jaguar In North America
Jaguar In North America: Everything You Need To Know

Yes, there are black Jaguars in North America. These are the melanistic color variant of the Jaguar (Panthera onca) found in North & South America.

While they have similar physical features as their non-melanistic counterparts, their unique black fur makes them visually distinct with an elegant and mysterious aura. 

The black coloration also provides their cats a unique advantage during hunting at night or hunting in heavily shaded areas as their coloration aids them to camouflage in the environment. While these cats have a black coloration, they still have the characteristic jaguar rosette patterns. 

Where Are Jaguars Found in America?

While America does have Jaguars, they are quite rare and sporadic. Historically, these solitary cats were found in the southwest part of the United States. This included states like Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Due to rapid habitat loss, hunting these wildcats population has declined across the country.

Currently, Jaguars in America are found in the U.S.- Mexico border regions. These sightings are individuals temporally crossing into the U.S. before going back to their range in Mexico primarily the state of Sonora.

Although there is no confirmed population of jaguars in the country, there are and have been efforts taken to establish wildlife corridors to facilitate Jaguar movement between the two countries. 

Few natural corridors like the Peloncillo mountains exist which are open for the movement of wildlife including jaguars to move between USA and Mexico.

How Many Jaguars Are Left in the USA?

There are no Jaguars left in the USA. While there are few Jaguars spotted in the U.S.-Mexico borders, there is no breeding population of the wildcat in the country.

As male Jaguars are known to travel miles to find mates, many such individuals have crossed the border into the U.S. Sadly, there are no female jaguars in the southern part of the U.S., and so these individuals return to their range in Mexico. 

There has however been one Jaguar that stayed in the country for about 4 years between 2011 to 2015. El Jefe which means “Boss” in Spanish was the name given to this Jaguar. 

Believed to be born in Sierra Madre in Northern Mexico, El Jefe ventured across the border into the US in 2011. In his time in the country, the male Jaguar was spotted in Arizona, New Mexico, and west Texas before returning to the Mexico side. 

While he was believed to be dead, he was again sighted in Sonora and is currently to be alive although much old. El Jefe was special as he was the only Jaguar to have lived in the country between 2011 and 2015 giving hope for Jaguar’s population to come back. Additionally, he was also widely studied by both sides. 

While there have been no other confirmed jaguars in the country since El Jefe, there have been various initiatives taken up by both U.S. and Mexico’s governments and various conservation groups. 

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And that was everything you need to know about the Jaguars In North America. I hope this article answered all your queries.

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