Don’t mess with El Jefe. He’s the only jaguar known to live in the United States of America, and he’s on the prowl in his first-ever video appearance.
Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity caught El Jefe on tape just 25 miles from downtown Tucson, Arizona.
The film captures the largest big cat in the Americas scoping out prey at night, traipsing through the forest and meandering down a stream. Considering so few people think the United States could still possibly host any jaguars at all, it’s an intimate few of the old masters of our domain.
Jaguars have long played a central role in early American cultures and traditions. For thousands of years, they lived all across the American Southwest and down into the Amazon rainforest. But human activity including poaching and deforestation have sharply curtailed jaguar numbers, all but extirpating the species from the United States.
In 2013, hunter Tony Penrod killed the last known female jaguar in the USA.
Conservation efforts for jaguars have become unusually political, despite their listing as an endangered species, since their habitat intersects the USA-Mexico border. President George Bush’s administration reversed federal efforts to resuscitate the jaguar population in 2008, as planning for a border wall interfered with the conservation goals. President Barack Obama’s administration in turn has designated 1,200 square miles alongside the Mexican border as “essential” jaguar habitat.
The politicians in Washington should be careful or they’ll have El Jefe to answer to.