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Jaguar (Panthera onca) Fact Sheet: Population & Conservation Status

Population Status

Global population estimate

  • 173,000 individuals (Jędrzejewski et al. 2018)
    • Most in Amazon Basin
      • Brazil, Peru, Columbia
    • Elsewhere, not abundant and populations fragmented

Regional population estimates

  • South America
    • 163,000 individuals (Jędrzejewski et al. 2018)
  • North America
    • 10,000 individuals (Jędrzejewski et al. 2018)
  • See Jędrzejewski et al. (2018), Table 5, for country-by-country population estimates and densities

Population trend

  • Declining (Quigley et al. 2017; Jędrzejewski et al. 2018)

Conservation Status

IUCN Status

CITES Status

  • Appendix I (UNEP 2019)
    • All international trade in jaguars or their parts is prohibited)
    • Initially listed in 1973
    • Applies to all countries in which jaguars inhabit; all countries are members of CITES


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

  • Endangered
    • Jaguar Recovery Plan abandoned in January, 2008
      • Represents the first time such an action has occured in the policy's 34 year history
    • Plan reinstated Jan. 2010


U.S. Endangered Species Status

  • LELE: listed endangered

Management Actions

Prohibitions against hunting

  • Hunting prohibited in many countries
    • North America
      • United States
    • Central America
      • Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama
    • South America
      • Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, French Guiana, Paraguay, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela
  • Hunting restricted in Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru
  • Receives no legal protection in Ecuador or Guyana (IUCN 2000)
  • Often hunted even in areas with strict prohibitions (from Caso et al. 2008)
    • Hunting is allowed for “problem animals” in Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru
    • Trophy hunting is still permitted in Bolivia
    • Where protective legislation exists, it is often ignored and un-enforced and even in ‘controlled reserves’ jaguars are frequently shot

History of management action

  • 1986
    • Conservation area established specifically for jaguar in Belize
  • 1982
    • Vulnerable IUCN
  • 1990
    • Vulnerable IUCN
  • 1996
    • Lower Risk/Near Threatened IUCN
  • 1997
    • US Fish and Wildlife Service added U.S. to area where this species is listed as Endangered (Federal Register)
    • Mesoamerica Biological Corridor officially launched to balance human needs, sustainable development, and conservation of some of earth's greatest biodiversity
  • 2002
    • Forty six jaguar conservation units established in Central America
  • 2006
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided not "prudent" to designate critical habitat for jaguar; this decision based on fact that in the U.S. no geographic area has features the species needs to survive; preservation and recovery of the jaguar depends almost entirely on conservation efforts in Mexico and Central and South America. (USFWS July 13, 2006)
    • Environmental ministers from seven countries of Central Mexico and Mexico agree to support a network of protected areas and wildlife corridors to protect jaguar populations; meeting of Second Mesoameria Protected Area Congress in Panama, May 2006
  • 2008
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determines a U.S. plan would not "advance the conservation of the big cat" because there are "too few jaguars and too little habitat" to influence protection of jaguar populations. (USFWS Jan. 17, 2008)
  • 2010
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reverses policy (Jan. 2010) and says it will now designate "critical habitat" for the endangered jaguar in the U.S. Much disagreement on this issue; some biologists (Rabinowitz 2010) assert bringing back jaguars into "marginal" habitat will waste sparse federal funds that will do nothing to help jaguars in their true critical habitats in Mexico, Central and South America.

Threats to Survival

Habitat loss and fragmentation

  • Deforestation
    • Conversion of habitat to agricultural and pastoral land
      • Agrichemicals used in farmed regions
    • Habitat altered to accommodate human settlement
    • This large, mobile, predatory species requires continuous spans of suitable habitat
  • Loss of prey base
    • Humans compete with jaguars for similar protein sources
  • Population fragmentation
    • In United States, the borderland fence segregates the U.S. and Mexican population

Illegal hunting

  • Jaguars killed in trophy hunting
    • Occurs in Bolivia
    • There is no legal protection against hunting in Ecuador of Guyana
  • Targeted by ranchers
    • Ranchers kill jaguars because of their perceived threat to humans and livestock
    • Often results in indiscriminate hunting
  • Black market trade
    • Killed for their pelts



Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Abbitt et al. (2000)
Caso et al. (2008)
Channell & Lomolino (2000)
Leite et al. (2001)
Nielsen et al. (2001)
Sanderson et al. (2007)
Soisalo, M. and S. Cavalcanti (2006)

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