Why are Jaguars Endangered? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Michelle Jones

Michelle has taught at the elementary level and has earned a master's degree.

As the number of people in the world increases, the number of jaguars and has decreased. Come learn about this enchanting wild cat, why jaguars are in danger of becoming extinct, and what has been done to try to save them.

The Jaguar

There are tigers in Asia and there are lions in Africa, but the Americas have the magestic jaguar. A jaguar is a big, wild cat native to North and South America. They are the largest big feline in the Americas and are also the most powerful.

The number of jaguars has dramatically decreased since the 1800s.
picture of a jaguar

As beautiful as they are, this animal is built to kill. They may not be the fastest cat, but they can swim, jump, and even climb trees! Perhaps the only thing that can't do is escape the threats they face from humans.

Because jaguars are top predators, the only real dangers they face are from humans. It began in the 1800s when the American West was being settled. It took a really long time for humans to realize how few jaguars were left and they were only put on the endangered species list in 1972. They are still endangered today.

Habitat Destruction

One of the biggest reasons that jaguars are endangered is because humans have destroyed their habitat. Habitat destruction is when trees are cut down and land is cleared and changed from what it originally was. Jaguars live in all types of forests and many grasslands. Jaguars are native to the southwest part of the United States and in Central and South America. Their forests have now been turned into neighborhoods, offices, and even cities!

Sometimes, a habitat is destroyed so that humans can use the land in other ways. Logging (cutting down trees) and cattle ranching are two examples of this. As land is cleared, animals that jaguars eat either die or move somewhere else, leaving the jaguar with little food to prey on. Jaguars are tree-climbers, so cutting down their forests makes it hard for them to escape hunters.

An example of habitat destruction.
picture of habitat destruction

In grasslands, some of the grasses that jaguars use to hide are dying from pollution.


As you might have guessed, hunting has been a big problem for the jaguar population. In the 1960s and 1970s, around 18,000 jaguars per year were killed so that their coats could be made into clothes! Even though it became illegal to hunt jaguars in 1972, poaching (the illegal hunting of animals) continued because of the high demand for their beautiful fur.

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