JAGUARS ARE NOT LEOPARDS,
AND PANTHERS DON’T EXIST
So let’s explore that statement, shall we?
We’ll talk about the Jaguar first. Jaguars are considered to be the fiercest cat in the Americas. Most jaguars are tan or orange with distinctive black spots, called "rosettes." However, some jaguars appear to be black, but if you look closely you will see their markings.
Photo credit: http://Factzoo.com
Jaguars live in remote areas of South America, and Central America. They once roamed the southern portion of the US, but were essentially pushed out as people settled their habitat. As I said above, they are considered the fiercest big cat in North American and also the largest.
In ancient native legend, the Jaguar God was Lord of the underworld. Here’s a link to a really cool story about the Jaguar in ancient Mayan legend:
The name Jaguar comes from the Native American word, yaguar, which means; ‘he who kills with one leap.’ How so many words got crammed into one word is beyond me.
Many cats don’t like water, but the Jaguar is a very strong swimmer, and can collect a hearty meal from rivers. They will eat fish, turtle and caiman (a type of alligator).
Photo credit: Chris Gamel Photography
They will also eat deer, capybaras and tapirs. For all you kids out there, I have posted a picture of a capybara and tapir below, because you may not have heard of them or seen one of them before, and they are interesting animals too. The jaguar is crepuscular, (we’ve seen this word before. It means that the animal is most active, usually hunting, at dawn and dusk.)
Capybara are not endangered.
Baird’s Tapir lives in Central American and is an endangered species.
OK, let’s shift over to the Leopard. Leopards are the smallest of the big cats. They live in a widespread area covering, sub-Sahara Africa, Central Asia, India and China. Even though he is the smallest of the big cats, he is extremely strong. He will actually drag his prey into a tree so that scavengers will not be able to steal it from him. Leopards are also known to hunt from trees, sitting in them patiently waiting for an unsuspecting victim and leaping on them from above. Leopards, like Jaguars, don’t mind the water, and they are happy with a meal of fish and crabs.
Most leopards are light colored with dark spots that are commonly referred to as rosettes. There are leopards that appear to be black. This black coat is a result of melanism, which is a darkening of the body tissue, and Jaguars of this type are usually found in forests. Like the Jaguar, the spots can be seen if you look closely. These remarks about the color and coats of Leopards are general, because coat color and markings will vary with habitat.
So what about panthers? Well let’s take a look at the Latin name of Jaguars and Leopards.
Leopard: Panthera pardus
Jaguar: Panthera onca
Interesting! See that first word, Panthera.
The word Panthera represents a genus of large cats, which includes leopards, jaguars, lions, and tigers. People commonly refer to leopards as ‘black panthers,’ but they are mistaken. Panthers are not a separate subspecies.
Here's a Leopard video short for you. Take a moment to view a mom and her cub. They are beautiful.
Here’s another terrific video about Jaguars, Leopards and Cheetahs and how to tell them apart. So before you click play, gather the kids around so they can see how different these three bag cats are and how they will be able recognize each cat. There is so much to learn about so many beautiful animals.
The IUCN lists both the leopard and Jaguar as ‘near-threatened.’
Jaguar concerns: If we are to ensure the survival of this magnificent species it is vital that we enforce legislation, obtain the cooperation of local people, and maintain large tracts of contiguous habitat. (www.arkive.org)
Leopard concerns: In west Asia, the leopard is almost entirely restricted to protected areas. However, while these areas may receive protection, most of them are too small to support large enough populations of this species to ensure its survival in the region, and therefore need to be expanded and connected to other areas using buffer zones and wildlife ‘corridors.’ (www.arkive.org)
Visit the below sites to learn more about this magnificent cats.
My sincere thanks, as always, to Arkive.org for pictures and information. Please visit their site to see more information about the Jaguar and the Leopard and many other amazing animals and plants. (http://arkive.org)
Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza
Award Winning Middle Grade Fantasy, Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!
FOR ADDITIONAL READING AND INFORMATION, VISIT THE BELOW WEB SITES