Trail Cam Footage of the Only Wild Jaguar in the US
Hikers beware, there are more than just cougars in the mountains outside of Tucson, Arizona. In the wilderness of the Santa Rita Mountains, what is believed to be the only wild jaguar in the United States roams alone. Researchers recently released a compilation of trail camera footage that is the first to be seen by the public.
“These glimpses into his behavior offer the keys to unlocking the mysteries of these cryptic cats” said Aletris Neils, executive director of Conservation CATalyst, the organization which released the video. “We are able to determine he is an adult male jaguar, currently in prime condition. Every new piece of information is important for conserving northern jaguars and we look forward to building upon on these data so that we can collectively make better decisions on how to manage these fascinating and endangered cats.”
El Jefe, or “the boss” in Spanish, was first detected in the mountains in 2013. Biologists say the seven-year-old male is only one of perhaps five jaguars spotted in the US since the 1990s. The last verified jaguar, a cat known as Macho B, was euthanized in 2009.
Jaguars wandering up from Mexico are not unknown in Arizona, which once had its own native population of jaguars. Some animal advocacy groups support reintroducing the species in small amounts back to the state, although they are meeting opposition from residents who fear that the predator will be a threat to livestock, pets, or even people. As the third largest cat in the world, behind the lion and the tiger, jaguars have a sometimes notorious reputation.
The Center for Biological Diversity said there is plenty of habitat for a reintroduction program. The group secured more than 750,000 acres of federal land as habitat for the cats in 2014, but say now that land development is the biggest threat to the prospect of jaguars in the United States.
“Just knowing that this amazing cat is right out there, just 25 miles from downtown Tucson, is a big thrill,” Randy Serraglio, an advocate with the Center, said in a press release. “El Jefe has been living more or less in our backyard for more than three years now. It’s our job to make sure that his home is protected and he can get what he needs to survive.”
Author: Daniel Xu, OutdoorHub