Jaguar Tops Endangered Species Lists Throughout the Americas

The jaguar remains at the top of multiple endangered species lists, despite recent estimates of an increasing population.

With its impressive speed and the maneuverability of a stealth fighter jet, the camouflaged jaguar gracefully moves through the thick jungle, barely glimpsed like a ghost caught out of the corner of your eye.

The Jaguar moves freely and silently traversing the jungle underbrush, the high canopy and, most commonly seen, along the riverbanks. You cannot sneak up on or surprise one of these jungle apex predators. According to many indigenous people, the Jaguar appears only when he wants to be seen.

Jaguars (Panthera onca) are the third largest species of felines in the world, and the only panther species found in the Americas.

The largest of the Central American carnivores, the jaguar is rarely seen as a result of declining population and loss of habitat.

It is estimated that only 4,000 wild jaguars remain in Latin America, with a habitat range extending from southwestern United States all the way down to northern Argentina.

The name ‘jaguar’ comes from an Amazonian word, yaguara meaning “beast”. A more accurate name for the Jaguar is yaguareté, the suffix -eté meaning “true”, so a translation would be “true beast”.

0.1% of the world’s landmass, 5% of earth’s biodiversity

With an estimated 500,000+ species of wildlife, Costa Rica is host to twenty six National Parks as well as many wildlife reserves, refuges, and sanctuaries — which cover more than more 25% of Costa Rica’s total landmass.

Costa Rica is a tropical mountainous country that is part of the Central American Isthmus forming a land bridge between the two great continents of the Americas. This land bridge sees migration from north to south and vice versa. Costa Rica contains both tropical and subtropical climates with an array of varied geographical landscapes and eco-habitats. There are 16 microclimatic zones in Costa Rica that provide numerous unique habitat zones.

There is no single, official endangered species list

Different governmental bodies and NGO’s keep their own unique endangered species lists. This results in a multitude of lists, and with no official endangered species list to reference Earth’s Endangered Creatures lists global endangered plants and animals currently threatened with extinction. According to the EEC, there are 221 total endangered species listed individually in Costa Rica.

Jaguars, Tapirs, and Squirrel Monkeys are of the rare and unique mammals that have landed on the endangered species list here in Costa Rica. These species can be found only in the dark, remote and untouched tropical forests of Costa Rica.

Although the pristine habitat of Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park is ideal, the number of jaguars in the region were estimated to be around 40-50 (based on a 2004 report). Recent estimates are indicating an improvement because of work now being done to preserve animal corridors.

Another area for spotting a Jaguar is in the northern region around the Tenorio Volcano National Park.

Home to the famous aqua-blue river, Rio Celeste, this area surrounds the small town of Bijagua and is flanked by the Tenorio Volcano on one side, and the Miravalles Volcano on the other. The Tenorio Volcano National Park area offers a broad swath of protected jungle habitat where jaguar and puma sightings are frequently reported.

Habitats and Corridors for Endangered Species

There are many wildlife sanctuaries in Costa Rica, including Corcovado National Park, Ostional National Wildlife Refuge, Carara National Park, and the Barra del Colorado Wildlife Reserve that protect critical habitats.

All of these parks and sanctuaries allow tourists to visit the protected areas. In most cases, tours require registered guides, and the number of entries is limited, often requiring entry permits to protect the habitat and species living there. Some of the rare and endangered species found in these reserves and sanctuaries include the Scarlet Macaws, Coyotes, Anteaters, Otters, Collared Peccari, Ocelots, Pumas, and Margay Cats.

Costa Rica has seen many corridor protection programs in recent years.

These corridors are critical for the ongoing protection of endangered species allowing migration movements and range extension. Without these corridors, many species become cut off in isolated pockets, which leads to extinction.