El Jefe jaguar
In a new video posted online, the only known wild jaguar in the United States is seen roaming parts of an Arizona mountain range
The new video of El Jefe jaguar is the first publicly released video of the giant cat.
“El Jefe,” Spanish for “the boss,” has been living in the Santa Rita Mountains for over three years, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
El Jefe is about 7 years old and is one of only four or five jaguars that have been spotted in the U.S. in the last 20 years.
“A lot of people have no idea that we have jaguars in the United States or that they belong here,” said Randy Serraglio of the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity. “In bringing this video, we hope to inspire people to care about these animals and support protection for their homes.”
“These glimpses into his behavior offer the keys to unlocking the mysteries of these cryptic cats” Aletris Neils, executive director of Conservation CATalyst, said in a statement. “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.”
Conservationists say El Jefe’s habitat is threatened by a proposed open-pit copper mine in the Santa Ritas. The proposed Rosemont Mine has been in the works for several years but is tied up in the permitting phase. A spokeswoman for the company that owns the mine, Hudbay Minerals, did not immediately comment Wednesday.
The videos of El Jefe were captured by Conservation CATalyst, an organization focused on conserving cats that The Center for Biological Diversity contracts with. Conservation CATalyst has about a dozen cameras in the areas where El Jefe lives and plans to add more, Serraglio said.
“Just knowing that this amazing cat is right out there, just 25 miles from downtown Tucson, is a big thrill,” Randy Serraglio, conservation advocate with the Center, said. “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.”
According to the Daily Mail, Jaguars roamed the U.S. Southwest but disappeared 150 years ago because of habitat loss and predator control programs aimed at protecting livestock.