By Alan Rabinowitz
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Additional info for An Indomitable Beast: The Remarkable Journey of the Jaguar
The most fertile lands, often the richest wildlife habitats such as grasslands, floodplains, and forest mosaics, were settled first. Then, starting about 2,000 years ago, centralized civilizations developed. As larger numbers of people became more sedentary and more agrarian, extensive areas of prime jaguar habitat were denuded and fragmented. Through use of cooperative hunting techniques, better weapons, and the harnessing of fire, hunters became more proficient. Those who lived among the jaguar were now a force to be reckoned with by the species, already carrying out activities that would henceforth remain the major threats to the jaguar’s continued survival—loss of habitat, loss of prey, and the actual killing of the jaguar.
A defining period for the cats was to be the beginning of the Ice Ages, 2–3 million years ago, and the Pleistocene in particular. The Pleistocene is the best-known period of the glaciations, or “Ice Ages,” in the earth’s history, when ice sheets covered all of Antarctica, large parts of Europe, North America, and South America, as well as small areas in Asia. The glaciations of the Pleistocene were not continuous but consisted of several The Pleistocene Jaguar Corridor 13 glacial advances punctuated by interglacial stages, during which ice retreated and a comparatively mild climate ensued.
They were the wildest eyes I had ever seen. Now I was searching for this elusive young cat, a task that was proving increasingly difficult, particularly at this time of year. The rains had wreaked havoc again, washing away sections of what was left of the timber roads. The tires spun, I smelled burning rubber before I got traction again, and the truck struggled out of another rut. Then I heard the grinding. I continued over a short rise before pulling over into a flat, open area, once a holding site for logs from the now-defunct timber operation.