Weekly Dose of Cute

I was going to try and do something non-furry to continue to explore cuteness on other branches of the tree of life, but this little guy just made my heart melt and I couldn't, in good conscience, post anything else.

HT Zooborns
This adorable little cub is a Black Jaguar, born on April 14th in Peru. Jaguars, Panthera onca, are the third largest cat species and the only Panthera species found in the Americas. The black color is due to a dominant but rare allele, and black moms can have black or spotted babies. They live in Mexico and much of Central America, extending as far south as Argentina and as far north, possibly, as Texas and Arizona.

But as adorable as they are, itâs possible that the near future will see these beautiful cats go extinct. While currently listed as "near-threatened" on the IUCN Red List, jaguar populations are falling due to habitat loss and poaching. In the '60s, more than 15,000 jaguar skins were sold from the Brazilian Amazon annually, but CITES listing changes in the '70s dramatically reduced this activity. Still, in many areas, the cat's penchant for farm animals leads them to be shot on site by farmers and ranchers. While hunting is prohibited all together or limited to "problem animals" in most of their range, Bolivia still allows trophy hunting, and jaguars have no legal protection in Ecuador or Guyana, despite being their national animal.

Jaguars are special in that they're considered an "umbrella species" - one whose home range and habitat are so broad that protecting them automatically protects a number of other, more limited species. However, the US government decided in January that the jaguar recovery was unimportant, and decided to abandon it under the endangered species act. This is an unprecedented action by Bush, which many believe was solely for the purpose of allowing a controversial border fence to be built which happens to block the cat's typical crossing routes from Mexico.

So while this little guy is absolutely adorable, his kind faces mounting threats as their habitat is destroyed and cut into pieces by ridiculous fences and the ever-expanding human population. It's very possible that, in the next hundred years, the status will drop to endangered for these majestic animals.

Ok. One more cute Peruvian youngster, to cheer you up again:

c/o ylovebigcats.com


More like this

A jaguar (Panthera onca). From Flickr user Prosper 973. One year ago this week Macho B was euthanized. He had been captured in mid-February of 2009, the only known jaguar living inside the United States, but after he was caught and fitted with a radio collar his health quickly deteriorated. When he…
In the latest issue of the Journal of Mammalogy, a resolution by the American Society of Mammalogists was published (resulting from the 87th annual conference held in June 2007) calling upon the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to get off its butt and do something about jaguar (Panthera onca)…
There are intruders invading from our Southern border! No, not illegal immigrants -- jaguars. Having not been seen in the Southwest for some time, some of them have started to filter in from Mexico. The NYTimes reports: Using the same clandestine routes as drug smugglers, male jaguars are…
If you've read the series of posts on Marc van Roosmalen's new Amazonian mammals, you should, by now, be fairly open-minded to the possibility that large terrestrial mammals await discovery and description. And if you follow rumours about new mammal species, you'll have heard of the alleged new…