National Geographic : 2017 Dec
78 NaTIONal gEOgrapHIC • DECEMbEr 2017 0mi 400 0km 400 PACIFIC OCEAN ATLANTIC OCEAN Gulf of Mexico Caribbean Sea Lake Titicaca MADIDI NATIONAL PARK SERRANIA DE CHIRIBIQUETE NATURAL N.P. ANDESANDES AMAZON BASIN BRAZILIAN HIGHLANDS GranChaco GUIANA HIGHL ANDSLLANOS Isthmus of Tehuantepec SierraMadreOccidentalSierraMadreOrientalAm az onOrinoc o SãoFran c iscoParanáParaná Ri oGrandeParaguayCuiabáPantanal MEXICO UNITED STATES BELIZE NICARAGUA GUYANA FRENCH GUIANA (FRANCE) GUATEMALA COLOMBIA BOLIVIA BRAZIL VENEZUELA COSTA RICA ECUADOR PERU CHILE ARGENTINA PANAMA ELSALVADORPARAGUAYSURINAMEHONDURAS Panama City Guatemala City Mexico City Caracas Belmopan Bogotá Lima Pucallpa La Paz Asunción Quito Georgetown Managua Sucre Brasília San José SanSalvador T egucigalpaParamaribo Nova Iguaçu Curitiba Porto Velho Belo Horizonte Monterrey São Paulo Santa Cruz Manaus Acapulco Chilapa de Alvarez Rio de Janeiro Veracruz Cancún Iquitos Mayantuyacu Río Quendeque Cabildo Verde EQUATOR Historic range Present-day range NORTH AMERICA SOUTH AMERICA Habitat corridor Jaguar conservation area Human population density Low High much as the bass note of the life force itself. But for thousands of years jaguars have had a double life—a figurative existence that domi- nates the art and archaeology of pre- Columbian cultures across much of the species’ historical range, from the southwestern U.S. to Argentina. Jaguars were worshipped as gods by the Olmec, the Maya, the Aztec, and the Inca, who carved jaguar effigies into their temples, their thrones, their pot handles, the spoons they made from llama bones. Images of the jaguar were woven into shawls and funeral shrouds of the Chavín people, whose civilization emerged in Peru around 900 B.C. Some tribes in the Amazon drank jaguar blood, ate jaguar hearts, and wore jaguar skins. Many believed that people could transform into jaguars and that jaguars could become human. To the Desana of northwestern Colombia, the jaguar was the manifestation of the sun; to the Tucano, the cat’s roar heralded rain. The Mayan word balam denotes both jag- uars and priests or sorcerers. Among the Mojo people of Bolivia, the prime candidates for the job of shaman were men who had survived a jaguar attack. Even today, when the species has been pushed out of more than half its original range, modern signs of this ancient intimacy are everywhere. Each August, for example, in a festival called Tigrada, residents of the south- western Mexican city of Chilapa de Alvarez petition the jaguar god Tepeyollotl for rain and abundant crops by parading through the streets in jaguar masks and spotted costumes. The image of a snarling jaguar can be found on everything from cans of one of Peru’s most popular beers to beach towels, T-shirts, back- packs, rickshaws, fish shops, and gay bars. Certainly the most mysterious aspect of the MATTHEW W. CHWASTYK, NGM STAFF. SOURCES: PANTHERA; IUCN; WDPA-WCMC, WORLD DATABASE ON PROTECTED AREAS; WWF Habitat corridors Mapping jaguar populations helps identify crucial areas where they live and move in proximity to people. Conservationists are working with governments, businesses, and private parties to protect these regions. Range reduction Jaguars once ranged from the United States’ arid Southwest to Argentina’s grassy pampas. Since the mid-1800s, they’ve lost more than half of their former territory and have been pushed deeper into less suitable jungle tracts.