Why Are Jaguars in Danger of Going Extinct?

Jaguars are in danger of going extinct because their natural habitats are steadily disappearing due to human encroachment. However, jaguar numbers are dwindling also because ranchers kill them as a threat to their livestock, and poachers hunt them for fur. Although most countries that contain natural jaguar habitats, which range from the United States to Argentina, prohibit jaguar hunting, their numbers continue to decline.

The primary reason for the depletion of the world jaguar population is habitat loss. Most jaguars live in the dense rainforest of the Amazon jungle, but the forest is rapidly vanishing due to clearing for human settlement. People raze the trees for cattle ranching, rubber plantations, cocoa farming and the building of human dwellings. Often, fragments of jungle set aside as reserves do not give jaguars sufficient space in which to thrive. When their natural prey disappears, jaguars go after cattle and other livestock. In retaliation, many livestock owners hire full-time hunters who shoot jaguars on sight. Additionally, despite international bans on hunting, importing and selling jaguar fur, their pelts are still in demand.

Since the 1960s, considerable conservation efforts have been made to save the jaguar. In 1973, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species sharply reduced the sale of pelts. Efforts to reduce human encroachment on jaguar habitats include the creation of new sanctuaries, ecotourism and education of cattle ranchers. However, such measures have been ineffective in stemming the steady depletion in numbers of the species.