The Jaguar is the third largest feline, the tiger and lion being the only ones larger. Body length between 1.1 � 1.9m, tail length 45 � 75cm, shoulder height 55 � 76 cm and weigh 36 -160kg

Females are typically 20% smaller than males and vary in size according to their distribution.

Jaguar is compact and well muscled. Short stocky limbs which enables it to be adept at climbing, swimming and crouching. It has a strong head and an extremely powerful jaw.

The Melanistic or black jaguar are far less common than the spotted from. The are also known as Panthers.

Darker coloured individuals tend to be found in the dense forest areas as this assists them to stay hidden and lighter coloured, larger animals tend to be found in the open plains.

The highest population densities of jaguars are found in the Amazon Basin.

Jaguars are solitary, apart from a mother with cubs, and they only meet up to mate.

Jaguars have the amazing technique that when entering the water they are able to close their nostrils and open those powerful jaws to catch their prey, which in the wild consists of deer, turtles, capybara, livestock and even anacondas.

The preferred method of killing its larger prey is to pierce the skull with its canine teeth, smaller prey could be killed with one swipe of its powerful paw.

They prefer to stalk their prey rather than chase and use the ambush technique, pouncing from cover on its prey

Gestation of 91 � 111 days with 1 � 4 cubs being born, commonly 2 are born in a den. They are born blind and helpless, gaining sight within 14 days. Cubs are weaned at 3 months but remain in the birth den fro 6 months, after which they to accompany their mother while she hunts.

Cubs normally stay in the company of their mother until they are between 1 and 2 years of age after which they leave to find their own territory.

Jaguars have no real predators, other than MAN.

The Yanomami Indians named the Jaguar �Eater of Souls� as they believe it consumes the spirits of the dead.

During the peak of its decline in the sixties and seventies, around 18,000 jaguars were killed every year for there much sought after coat. Due to environmental pressure the fashion for animal furs has declined, but the jaguar is still hunted. Today the major threat comes from deforestation which is drastically affecting the jaguars prey base as well as fragmenting the cats population into more isolated pockets. It is estimated that there are now only around 15,000 jaguars left in the wild and conservation is centring on the establishment of protected �National Park� areas which may serve to reduce the decline of the jaguars natural habitat. In Belize, the government, aided by the WWF, have set aside 150 square miles of rain forest in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Preserve, which currently provides a protected environment for around 200 jaguars, the largest concentration of the wild cats species in the world. The WWF are also providing aid to protect some of the remaining rain forests areas of South America, which provide a refuge for the majority of the remaining jaguar population