Jaguar walking along near the temples at Lamanai, also the Maya Legend of the Jaguar
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January 30, 2021

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Lamanai.com
Lamanai Outpost Lodge is situated on the banks of a 28 mile long spring fed lagoon amid the remnants of a major Maya city. The lodge is surrounded by an incredible variety of habitats that facilitate unsurpassed nature-based and soft-adventure activities that depart right from your cabaña’s doorstep without the need for day-trips. The Outpost is consistently utilized by high-end travel companies and is widely recognized as one of Belize’s finest jungle lodges.
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Jaguar walking along near the temples at Lamanai, also the Maya Legend of the Jaguar

Christian Ramirez, guide at Lamanai Outpost Lodge: I was there early in the morning with 2 guests at Lamanai when this huge beast came out. I pointed it out, they had the cameras.

The magnificent jaguar (Panthera onca) — one of Belize’s 5 wild cat species — is listed as Near Threatened in the World, but we are working with partners and communities in Belize for coexistence with this large wild cat.

Jaguars require large tracts of forest to thrive; their favorite meals include armadillo, white-lipped peccary, deer and agouti.

The Maya Legend of the Jaguar

Black Jaguar - Ek' Báalam
Jaguar - Báalam , Chak Mo'ol

Many years ago, in the rainforest of the lowlands of the Maya World, all animals were great friends; The deer, the pajuil, the peccary, the crocodile and the monkey were treated with respect and did not eat among themselves, but fed on herbs, fruits and seeds.

One of the most admired animals was the jaguar, which at that time had no spots.

Everyone admired the jaguar. Her yellow skin glowed dazzlingly as she wiped it with her tongue every so often; Then he approached the gouache to revel in his beautiful reflection in the water. Actually it was a very beautiful animal, but also very presumed: "Nobody has a skin as perfect as mine," he murmured as he passed the other animals.

On one occasion, monkeys found a large avocado tree and, happily, began to eat the ripe fruits on the ground.

They were so happy that they started to play throwing the avocados between them. The noise they made attracted the other animals that came curious to see what was happening.

The jaguar got too close to the monkeys and then one of them jokingly tossed an avocado that stained the whole spine. The animals began to laugh, but the jaguar, feeling humiliated, became enraged, captured the monkey that had ridiculed him and took him to his cave to eat it. The monkeys and the other animals fled in fear.

Nearby, in the middle of the rainforest, lived Yum Kaax, the Lord of the Mount, who was the protector of animals and plants. The monkeys ran to look for him to tell him what had happened and to ask for his help.

Yum Kaax calmed them by saying: We will give a lesson to that presumed one who was bothered by a simple game and even ate one of you.

He then sent for the peccaries to be ordered to help the monkeys to punish the jaguar.

The next morning, the strongest peccaries came to the jaguar cave and forced him out of there; Threatening, chased him to a black sapphire tree, where the monkeys were clambering for him.

When they had the jaguar under the tree, the monkeys threw the fruit, staining all the skin. The feline escaped to the gouache to bathe and remove the stains, but when he came out he realized that these were not removed, because they were magical stains of Yum Kaax.

The jaguar roared as it had never before and threatened the monkeys and the peccary with eating them every time he met them on their way.

From now on you will be my enemies and I will never leave you alone! -scream.

This was how the jaguar got the spots that characterize it, and from then on the animals began to live hiding from it. While the tree of black sapote was known as ta'uch, which in maya means "monkey poop."

For some time the monkeys and peccaries were captured by the jaguar very easily. Yum Kaax, realizing the problem, called them to offer help.

"I see things have changed since the jaguar got its spots," he told them. I agree that all animals fight to get their food to survive, but I also understand that you are at a disadvantage, because he is much stronger and dangerous.

"That is why," he continued, "they must always act with caution and intelligence so as not to be caught. To you the monkeys I will put long lines so that they can be hung of the branches of the trees and move with agility in them.

To you pecans I will give you thicker, more resistant skin and sharp fangs so that they can defend themselves properly. Thus the jaguar will think twice before attacking them as it does now.

Immediately, the monkeys and peccaries got the gifts that Yum Kaax offered them. They said goodbye to him very gratefully and went into the rainforest.

Now the monkeys do not come down so much from the trees, because they learned to live almost completely above them. When the jaguar begins to climb the trunk of a tree, the monkeys scream and throw themselves at another tree with the help of their tail and thus avoid being trapped.

The peccaries continued to live on earth, but now when they see the jaguar they clump and defend themselves with great courage thanks to their thick skin and dangerous fangs.

Photograph by Kurt Burri, guest at Lamanai Outpost Lodge

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