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Panther Population by Country 2024

Big cats create fascination around the world, and panthers are no exception. However, while the term panther is widely used, it is also widely misunderstood. In actuality, there exists no specific species of big cat known as a panther. Rather, panther is a generic term that can describe any member of the genus Panthera, which includes lions (Panthera leo), tigers (Panthera tigris), jaguars (Panthera onca), leopards (Panthera pardus), and snow leopards (Panthera uncia). For example, the most well-known panther is the black panther, a sleek and muscular feline that is stunning to the eye—and which is not a distinct species, but simply a jaguar or leopard with an all-black coat due to a genetic mutation.

Jaguars

Jaguars are found in South and Central America. While their habitat has shrunk, the jaguar can be found across the Americas. There are populations in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay.

The jaguar is considered near threatened, and its range has shrunk significantly due to habitat loss over the past century. Humans are another major threat, as jaguar fur and body parts have value on the black market. Conservation efforts are underway to protect these big cats in most of the countries they inhabit, but they have already completely disappeared from some areas of the world.

Leopards

The most widely distributed big cat, leopards are found across most of Africa and Asia. Although vast, the jaguar's range is becoming more and more fragmented as humans encroach upon the cats' natural habitats and hunt them either for sport or to harvest their fur. Several subspecies of leopard exist and can be found in Sub-Saharan Africa, India, Myanmar, Tibet, Indonesia, Turkey, Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Nepal, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. As a whole, leopards are considered vulnerable, but several subspecies are considered critically endangered or endangered.

Cougars

Cougars may also be referred to as panthers, despite the fact that cougars do not belong to the genus Panthera and zoologists do not consider them to be big cats. Instead, cougars belong to the genus Felidae, which includes smaller cats such as lynxes, bobcats, caracals, and the common housecat. Still, cougars are large predators with a range that begins in Canada, moves down the west coast of the United States and through Mexico, then expands into Central and South America. An isolated cougar population in Florida is known as the "Florida panther."

Notes:
- Population figures for all Panthera species are subject to change due to various external factors, including conservation efforts, habitat loss, and poaching.
- Data is compiled from multiple sources over different years, underscoring the limitations in continuous monitoring and resource availability for comprehensive data collection.
- Specific population numbers for the leopard (Panthera pardus) are excluded due to the species' widespread geographical distribution, which makes accurate and comprehensive population assessment challenging.
- Snow Leopard populations are maximum estimates. Actual populations may be significantly lower.

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