At last, the only jaguar left in the U.S. made a video appearance thanks to the monitoring efforts of the Center for Biological Diversity and the Conservation CATalyst organization.
The footage captured by remote monitoring cameras was released this Wednesday. El Jefe, the last jaguar of the U.S. roams its Santa Rita Mountains habitat in the most silent manner. For years, the splendid male jaguar has remained an elusive presence for wildlife experts.
Once upon a time, the area just outside of Tuscon, Arizona was brimming with big wild cats, including a booming jaguar population. Ranching and farming have slowly destroyed the wild cats’ habitat and forced them out. Poaching and hunting didn’t help the jaguars’ population either.
Now, according to Aletris Neils who is the executive director of the Conservation CATalyst,
“This is the only known jaguar currently in the United States. However, there is a breeding population of 100 miles south of the border”.
The founder of the Conservation CATalyst organization believes that as long as El Jefe has an open corridor to reach the breeding population of jaguars in Mexico, the splending specimen will be alright. Despite the Santa Rita Mountains being the perfect habitat for El Jefe, capable of sustaining its breeding and feeding, El Jefe is the last wild jaguar in the U.S.
Not only is El Jefe the last wild jaguar in the U.S., but the animal is also steering clear from human presence. Albeit some photos of El Jefe being captured over the years, this is the only time the only jaguar left in the U.S. made a video appearance.
A joint team from the Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity spent years tracking El Jefe for conservation efforts. The jaguar’s tracks and scat found occasionally in the Santa Rita Mountains helped the team get a closer glimpse of the beautiful animal.
However, even El Jefe is in danger. According to Aletris Neils, the Canadian mining company known as HudBay Minerals plans to open a copper mine right in the middle of the last jaguar’s habitat. The Rosemont Mine as the open-pit copper mine is known has the terrifying potential to destroy the wild cat’s habitat. In addition, El Jefe’s prey will fled the area as the Rosemont Mine is bound to negatively affect the habitat as a whole.
According to HudBay Minerals, the open-pit copper mine would be a mere half-mile in depth and a mere mile-wide. Nonetheless, the Rosemont Mine is planned only 30 miles further south from Tuscon. It would be smacked in the middle of El Jefe’s habitat. The toxic waste resulting from the open-pit copper mine is bound to affect thousands of acres around the project.
Against this background, El Jefe is cut off from vital corridors. So are jaguars living across the border. The fact that the only jaguar left in the U.S. made a video appearance comes at a critical moment for the wild cat’s survival.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia