Friday Catblogging: Jaguars

A portrait of a jaguar (Panthera onca) at the Milwaukee County Zoological Gardens in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by Cburnett.

Nadia Drake observes that The Jaguar Is Made for the Age of Humans (“A writer comes face-to-face with the cat deep in the Amazon jungle and left with a new understanding of its surprising resilience to poaching and habitat loss”):

The Ese’Eja, indigenous to this area of Peru, say that the jaguar only shows himself to you when you are ready to see him, and Panthera onca generally live in solitude and take great care to avoid conflict with humans. In fact, while individual lions, tigers, and leopards have hunted people, jaguars have never been known to systematically pursue us.

Those who have studied jaguars say they sense a kind of preternatural consciousness in the beasts, a combination of disciplined energy and shrewd awareness that allows the jaguar to unleash its power in calculated ways. Alan Rabinowitz, struggling to find the right words, calls it simply “jaguarness.”

“There weren’t really proper English terms I could put together which really get it,” says Rabinowitz, the chief scientist for the global wildcat conservation organization Panthera. “I sometimes say ‘gentle giant,’ but it’s not a giant among the cats and it’s not gentle, really. It’s this very, very powerful animal that you could walk up to and holler at, and it’ll go away.”

Those seemingly contradictory qualities, along with the jaguars’ exquisite predatory capabilities, offer the cats hope of surviving in a human-dominated age.