Love The Jaguar
This 7-year-old male was feeling like he really was the king of the jungle. At the top of the food chain, he feared nobody. But now there is something to be feared. Humans have moved in all around, chopping down the forest and taking away all the prey. Sometimes the humans put their own prey in the new, barren places but he can’t eat that, the people will shoot at him if he tries. He struggles to find a female to mate with too, the humans seem to have separated him from most of the other jaguars. He hopes they don’t take any more.
The largest cat in South America and the third largest in the world, the jaguar is a beautiful and powerful cat. Their name comes from the indigenous word ‘yaguar’ which means ‘he who kills with one leap’. It’s the perfect name for this big cat who is incredibly good at stalking and ambushing its prey. With their powerful bite, they can pierce through the shells of armoured reptiles making them an apex predator. They often bury their prey to eat later or, being fantastic climbers, drag it up a tree, even if it’s over 300kg! They aren’t too fussy with what they eat, preying on capybaras, turtles, alligators and more. This makes them a very important part of their ecosystem, regulating many different populations to create stability.
At home in the trees, jaguars are also very at home in the water. They often live in areas with water and have adapted to become very good swimmers. They are solitary animals and very territorial. They will mark their territory using scrape marks, urine and faeces. They use their powerful roar to warn others if they are coming close to their territories or to scare mating competitors away.
They can often be confused with leopards and they do look very similar, each with rosette-shaped spots. But jaguars have spots in their spots whereas leopards have a simple rosette. Some of them look like they are completely black called melanistic. Both melanistic jaguars and leopards are known as black panthers.
When mating, the male and female may mate up to 100 times a day. When the female gives birth, she will usually give birth to twins but she can have up to 4 cubs. As soon as the cubs are born, the mother makes sure the father is well away as there is a chance he will eat them. The cubs are helpless when they are born and completely blind. They feed on their mother's milk until they are 3 months old, growing very quickly. They will be allowed to leave their den when they are 6 months, following their mother while she hunts to learn everything they can. When they are around 2 years old they have learnt all they can from their mothers and will head out to find their own territory.
The main threats to jaguars are habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and human-wildlife. Hunting has been banned in many countries and restricted in others but in Ecuador and Guyana, there is still no legal protection. The rate of deforestation in Latin America is the highest in the world with industrial agriculture and subsistence agriculture being it's driving forces. This leaves a major issue for jaguar, losing a lot of prey and forced to turn to livestock as an alternative, an alternative that causes the farmers to shoot them in retaliation. All this area being cleared for agriculture is also not being used to feed the local people but sent away to developing countries. This leaves the locals with little options for food, turning to wildlife as a solution. There is also the threat brought on by the demand for their paws, teeth, and other body parts in local markets as well as increased interest from Asian markets looking to replace tiger bones with jaguar bones for their traditional medicines. It has been estimated that 20-25% of their population has declined in the past three generations.
HOW TO HELP
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while travelling, the public will be able to meet individual animals.
With public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. Through this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love. With love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save all endangered animals.
The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtags #LoveTheLast to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.
To help protect these animals, please donate to the WWF: https://www.wwf.sg/SOURCES