Jaguar (Felis once)
The largest Central American carnivore, the jaguar lives mainly in coastal mangroves, lowland savannas, and wet and dry forests up to 1,000m in elevation. The male usually weighs up to 50-100 kg, and the females a third less. They are yellowish-brown in color with white underneath and black spots all over. The tail of the jaguar is about as half as long as the body and its head, shoulders and forefeet are large and strong to enable it to catch its prey.
The Jaguar's favorite choice of prey is peccaries, but they often will hunt monkeys, agoutis, deer, birds and other animals. They even will eat dead fish and other carrion left behind by receding waters of the rivers, small lakes and straits they enjoy swimming in. Unlike the puma, the jaguar hunts, kills and eats only one animal before going back to hunt again. Jaguars do not seem to be afraid of man but tales of unprovoked attacks are rare.
After reaching three years, the female jaguar attains sexual maturity. Gestation is about three months and although the male does not participate in the rearing of the young, (usually two in a litter) the cubs will stay with the mother for up to a year. If their first litter survives, the female rarely breeds again.
Once common in its areas of habitat, the jaguar is now an endangered species. Hunted for its prized pelt, the cat is rare except in protected reserves. Remaining jaguars in Central America are threatened by the hunting of their prey and clear-cutting of the forest where they live. Even by the making of a road through the section of forest they inhabit, the jaguar is one of the first mammals that disappear. It seems they are poor adapters to new environments. The jaguar is protected in Costa Rica in Tortuguero, Santa Rosa, and Corcovado National Parks and in Río Macho Forest Preserve and Cordillera Talamanca. See Lodge information and prices.
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