Meet America’s Only Known Wild Jaguar
In the Santa Rita Mountains outside of Tucson, Arizona, roams a lonely and unlikely predator.
His name is El Jefe, Spanish for “the boss” — and he is America’s only known wild jaguar.
While scientists have been tracking the animal for about three years, the big cat is making his video debut after the nonprofits Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity unveiled dramatic footage of the predator in his natural environment.
“A lot of people have no idea that we have jaguars in the United States or that they belong here,” said the center’s Randy Serraglio, according to The Associated Press. “In bringing this video, we hope to inspire people to care about these animals and support protection for their homes.”
Jaguars once roamed throughout the American Southwest, with historical reports putting them as far north as the Grand Canyon and as far east as Louisiana, the center said in a statement. But over the last 150 years, these large, majestic felines vanished from their U.S. range as a result of habitat loss and predator control efforts.
According to CBS News, 7-year-old El Jefe is one of only four or five jaguars that have been spotted in the U.S. in the last 20 years. He’s also the only one known to live in the country since a 15-year-old cat named Macho B died in Arizona in March 2009.
The last verified female jaguar in the U.S. was reportedly shot by a hunter in Arizona in 1963.
Studying these elusive cats anywhere is extremely difficult, but following the only known individual in the U.S. is especially challenging.”
Biologist Chris Bugbee