The last jaguar of America spotted in Arizona was recently caught on camera somewhere in the Santa Rita Mountains. Named El Jefe or The Chief, the jaguar is the last of its kind in North America, after he migrated from Mexico.
The Biological Diversity Center has released the footage of the rare wild cat last Wednesday. El Jefe was first spotted back in 2001, when he reached the state of Arizona after leaving Sonora in Mexico. The jaguar had to travel for about 130 miles.
While today El Jefe is truly a rarity, in the 19th century jaguars used to roam a large region between Texas and California. Some of them were even sighted in the state of Louisiana. Unfortunately, because they were hunted and they lost much of their habitat, the jaguars soon perished from North America. They have also entered the endangered species list in 1972.
According to Cougar Network executive director and University of Minnesota wildlife ecologist Michelle LaRue, the big cats can currently be found in Mexico, Argentina, Central America and Paraguay. The reason why researchers have concluded that El Jefe has come from Sonora is because the region is the closest to North America, and also houses a breeding population of jaguars.
El Jefe is thought to be about seven years old, and has been studied by researchers at the Fish and Wildlife Center in the United States from the very beginning. Since he was always spotted in the Santa Rita Mountains, biologists have named him “jaguar Santa Rita”. His other nickname, El Jefe, was created by schoolkids last year at the Center for Biological Diversity.
Researchers working with Conservation CATalyst led by Chris Bugbee have been trying to take photographs of the elusive jaguar for the last three years. Their efforts finally paid off last year in October, when El Jefe was captured with the use of remote sensor cameras.
The Santa Rita mountain range is the home of other felines as well. Three dwarf leopards, otherwise known as ocelots are El Jefe’s neighbors. Ocelots are also endangered and are currently being monitored by conservationists. The rare felines are joined by more common ones, such as mountain lions and bobcats.
Since the last jaguar of America spotted in Arizona can share its habitat with three more types of felines is a proof of its attempt at self-preservation. The region is extremely rich in resources and people need to take extensive measures in order to protect it from poachers and other malicious individuals.
Image Source: HNGN