How long do jaguars live?

We are told that, in the wild, jaguars live between 12-15 years. Although Mel and Fiona Sunquist in their excellent book Wild Cats of the World (2002) state that jaguar “longevity in the wild is unknown”. On my reading about the longevity of wild cats in the wild, 12-15 years is about the average although sometimes a bit shorter. In fact, they go on to state that Rabinowitz, in his research: Jaguar predation on domestic livestock in Belize (1986), estimated that “few jaguars in Belize lived to be more than eleven years old”.

Jaguar on the Prowl
Jaguar on the Prowl. Pic in public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

It is an entirely different story for those jaguars in captivity. Mel and Fiona Sunquist state that “In captivity, jaguars have lived to the advanced age of twenty to twenty-five years, and one female was thirty-two years old”.

What is the cause of death for the jaguar in the wild? One reason is the retaliatory killings by farmers to protect their livestock. Another is going to be that they are sometimes injured when capturing large prey animals which leads to their inability to survive.

Sometimes they are killed by poachers. There is a story reported by Mel and Fiona Sunquist in which they state that two subadult males dispersed the natal range at 16 and 18 months of age. One male spent eight months disbursing. He couldn’t settle meaning that he couldn’t find his own home range before being killed by poachers.

The struggle to survive must shorten lifespan. For example, the white-lipped peccary, an important jaguar prey animal has been extirpated (by human activity) from 21% of its historical range during the past century. The jaguar is losing its prey animals. It habitat has been decimated. They have lost about 49% of their historic geographic range according to the Red List report, dated 2016. They also state that the jaguar is vulnerable to persecution.

How do Jaguars adapt to the rainforest?
How do Jaguars adapt to the rainforest? Eons of evolution. Photo in public domain.

Where there is rapid human population increases with large-scale conversion of jaguar habitat to human use, there will be retaliatory killings of jaguars. This occurred in Uruguay from the mid-1800s and in El Salvador. In both countries the jaguar is extinct because of human persecution. The Red list states that there are “few areas within the jaguar range that can be considered safe [to the jaguar]”.

They also state that there is “still demand for jaguar paws, teeth and other products, especially in local markets where canines are still considered interesting jewellery. On top of this, jaguars are starting to be considered a replacement for tiger bone for traditional medicine purposes by the increasing Asian community in Latin America”. Chinese traditional medicine continues to be perhaps the single most damaging influence to the conservation of the big wild cats.

Below are some articles about the Jaguar which may interest you.

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