Guyana's Jaguar, Nature Unleashed

Zegrahm Contributor|August 10, 2017|Blog Post

It has been clocked at astonishing speeds, particularly on long straightaways. A hugely successful racing model, its compact, sturdy frame is a marvel of efficiency that puts the competition to shame.

The largest cat in South and Central America, the jaguar—like the luxury sports car that bears its name—boasts a superior body design and one of the fastest accelerations in nature: up to 65 miles per hour in mere seconds! (Although it can only maintain that speed for short spurts.) The feline can reach up to six feet in length (add another two for the tail) and weights of 250 pounds, and is distinguished by its yellowish-orange fur dotted with dark, floral-shaped spots called rosettes. The few whose coats appear totally black are known as melanistic.

A strict carnivore, the jaguar gets its name from the Native American word yajuar, which means “he who kills with one leap.” It also is a bit of a head case—instead of clamping onto its prey’s neck like other cats, a jaguar chomps straight down on the head with powerful jaws that can eat bones and crack turtle shells. Excellent swimmers (they’ve been known to paddle across the Panama Canal), they catch testudines in rivers, along with frogs and fish by using their tails as a sort of fishing lure. On land, they stalk deer, capybaras, peccarries, and monkeys.

Natural loners who cover vast territories up to 50 miles wide, jaguars only cohabitate while mating (late-August to early-October) or caring for cubs. Their gestation period is around 14 weeks and litters are generally two to four cubs, although the mortality rate for baby jaguars is quite high. They learn to hunt around six months of age, and by two are on their own living, on average, between 12 and 15 years.

Jaguars once roamed freely from Argentina to Arizona, although they have lost nearly half of their natural territory and have totally disappeared from many countries including the US. The great cats typically live in the rainforest and woodlands close to water; excessive poaching and habitat destruction have made them a near-threatened species.

One country striving to reverse that trend is Guyana, which claims the jaguar as its national animal (two adorn the official coat of arms). It also hosts a large number of the cats, which make their home in the country’s vast unspoiled forests. In 2013, as part of its progressive environmental efforts, Guyana joined a regional pact to create a “jaguar corridor” that links core populations of the cats from the tip of South America up through Mexico. 


Our 10-day Wild Guyana journey departs October 5, 2018.


Related Blog Posts

  • Isla Coiba, Panama
    Blog Post

    Endemic Birds of Cuba & Panama: A Birdwatcher's Checklist

    August 21, 2017 | Blog Post

    According to a story in USA Today, some 85 million Americans enjoy watching and/or photographing birds, ranking it 15th on the list of the most popular activities.

    Read More

    Georgetown, Guyana
    Blog Post

    Guyana - From Colonial Roots to Caribbean Republic

    August 18, 2017 | Blog Post

    If the third time’s a charm, then Christopher Columbus’s third voyage to the “New World” definitely delivered one of the Caribbean’s most captivating discoveries: Guyana. Columbus spotted Guyana’s coast during his 1498 journey, although Spanish conquistador Alonso de Ojeda would be the first European to set foot in the country a year later.

    Read More

    San Blas Archipelago, Panama
    Blog Post

    The Best Caribbean Islands for Avoiding Crowds

    August 15, 2017 | Blog Post

    Mass tourism can be a major buzzkill. Many Caribbean destinations have been tainted by overdevelopment, with major cruise lines unleashing thousands of travelers swarming their bustling colonial cities. But the best Caribbean islands offer visitors a chance to get away from the crowds and savor the peaceful tranquility of unspoiled nature.

    Read More

  • Antarctic Sunset
    Blog Post

    The Best Places for Stargazing Around the World

    July 25, 2017 | Blog Post

    On August 21, the moon will pass in front of the sun and the sky will turn completely dark in the middle of the day. Total solar eclipses like this occur approximately once every 18 months, but they’re usually only visible from less than half a percent of the Earth’s surface. This will be the first total solar eclipse visible in the United States since 1979.

    Read More

    Canal to Cuba with Panama, Costa Rica & Colombia
    Blog Post

    Hear it From the Experts - Our Field Staff Love Central America

    July 21, 2017 | Blog Post

    We’ve been traveling to Central America—including Panama, Costa Rica, and Cuba—for nearly two decades; in that time, we’ve honed an incredible itinerary, filled with stunning sights both above and below the waterline.

    Read More

    Torres del Paine National Park
    Blog Post

    The Spectacular Landscape of Torres del Paine National Park

    July 7, 2017 | Blog Post

    Tom Sharpe is a geologist originally from Glasgow, Scotland, who has spent the last 35 years as a geology curator in the National Museum of Wales.

    Read More

  • Havana, Cuba
    Blog Post

    Cuba by Ship: THE Way to Travel Now

    July 6, 2017 | Blog Post

    Let Us Be Your Guide to Exploring Cuba


    Read More

     Tortuguero Canals, Costa Rica
    Blog Post

    The Wildlife of Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica

    June 20, 2017 | Blog Post

    After nearly 20 years of traveling professionally, I’ve found very few countries that I would gladly visit over and over again. Costa Rica is the rare exception, thanks in large part to its friendly people, stunning natural beauty, and impressive biodiversity.

    Read More

    Havana, Cuba
    Field Report

    Cuba Under Sail 2017 Field Report

    June 13, 2017 | Field Report

    Wednesday & Thursday, March 29 & 30, 2017 - Depart Home / Miami / Havana, Cuba

    Read More

  • Panama Canal, Panama
    Blog Post

    Panama Canal History: How an Isthmus Became Center of the Western Hemisphere

    June 8, 2017 | Blog Post

    Panama City’s Biomuseo is a perfect starting point for learning about Panama Canal history.

    Read More

    Embera Girls, Darien Province, Panama
    Blog Post

    Indigenous Cultures of Panama: An Introductory Guide

    May 9, 2017 | Blog Post

    Thanks to the country’s role as a bridge between North and South America, people have always come from all over the world to settle in Panama. As a result, the cultures of Panama are striking in terms of their sheer diversity. 

    Read More

    Great Barrier Reef

    2018: 26 Countries, 52 UNESCO World Heritage Sites [Infographic]

    May 4, 2017 | Infographics

    In 2018, Zegrahm will be visiting 52 amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites in over 25 countries! The United Nations Educational Scientific & Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the UN that maintains a list of important natural or historical sites, whose preservation and safe-keeping are deemed important for the world community.

    Read More