The Majestic Jaguar
The magnificent jaguar is the largest of all carnivores in Central America, known for its sleek yellow coat and black spots. Jaguars are impressive hunters and strong swimmers and have adapted well to a variety of habitats. In Costa Rica, some of the biggest jaguar populations remain in the lush jungles of Corcovado National Park, which spans nearly half of the Osa Peninsula. The feline survives on a diet that includes birds, monkeys, fish, turtles, lizards, agoutis, wild pigs and, on occasion, carrion. They hunt mainly at dusk and dawn and are rarely observed in the wild.
Fast Facts about Jaguars
- Preferred habitat: Rainforests, Lowlands and cloud forests
- Diet: Carnivore (smaller mammals, iguanas, crocodiles, birds, snakes)
- Lifespan: Up to 15 years in the wild
- Size: From 100 to 225 pounds
- Activity: Diurnal: active during the day and night
- Reproduction: Females give birth to one to four cubs in a litter
- Behavior: Mostly solitary creatures except during mating season
About Corcovado National Park
An estimated 15,000 wild jaguars remain in Latin America, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Researchers speculate that less than 50 of these cats reside in Corcovado National Park, deemed one of the most biologically intense places on Earth. The felines require large ranges and typically favor the lowland rainforests and mangrove areas of the park. Every year, several fortunate travelers to Corcovado are afforded glimpses of jaguars in the wild – usually in the more remote areas which are accessed from Sirena or San Pedrillo ranger stations.
Jaguars in Costa Rica
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list, jaguars are categorized as a “near threatened” species. Their biggest threats are loss of habitat and poaching of their prey, especially wild pigs, known as peccaries. Since the majority of Costa Rica’s jaguars inhabit the jungles of Corcovado National Park, their populations are somewhat protected. Local conservation groups such as the Wildlife Conservation Society's Jaguar Conservation Program and Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative have been working to educate residents on the importance of this majestic creature and preserve the jaguar’s native habitat. In addition to the Osa Peninsula, jaguars have also been spotted – though much less frequently – in Amistad International Park, Tortuguero, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, and on the Cerro de la Muerte.