Jaguars…they are not just the stuff of legends in a far away land. While these beautiful creatures are endangered, they do roam the jungles of central America. We bet you did not know there lone jaguar looming in the Santa Rita Mountains of Arizona. This is not a secluded sanctuary area either, this wild jaguar is actually only 25 miles from downtown Tucson. He is the last jaguar in the United States.
This jaguar’s name name is El Jefe, which means “the boss” in Spanish. And as a result of efforts from Center for Biological Diversity and Conservation CATalyst, we are all able to see this fantastic feline going about his day. Motion detecting cameras have been stationed along the New Mexico and Arizona border, and observers have also benefited from a determined scat detection dog named Mayke. Due to this, the teams have been able to better study these stealthy creatures. Now the researchers have released video so that we can all get a rare glimpse into the life of this of beautiful, spotted spectacle as he roams an area that is now a critical jaguar habitat.
Development is Dooming the Jaguar
This should not totally surprise readers because there was a time when many jaguars roamed the Southwest. But over the last 150 years, they have declined due to both habitat loss and predator control programs. The closest known location for breeding jaguars that El Jefe could have come from is about 100 miles away in Mexico.
Many concerns have come to light as conservationists try to protect his home from the planned development of a copper-pit mine that would not only destroy the land but also introduce toxic waste to the area.“The Rosemont Mine would destroy El Jefe’s home and severely hamstring recovery of jaguars in the United States. The Santa Rita Mountains are critically important to jaguar recovery in this country, and they must be protected,” said Randy Serraglio in a press release.
As you might imagine the developers see this another way…
Hudbay Rosemont vice president Patrick Merrin said in a statement that “our project will sit on roughly 5,000 acres of the 138,760 acres of the Santa Rita Mountains, and constitutes a very small fraction of the jaguar’s 50 mile-plus range. We will continue to work with the federal agencies to establish appropriate conservation and mitigation measures for the jaguar and other plants and animals.”
With only one jaguar remaining, any further reduction of the remaining natural land is blasphemy. Jaguars are apex predators an thus balance the hierarchy of the ecosystem. Although this species has been pushed to near extinction, there is still hope that they can come back if their habitat is preserved.
The time to act is now. Please sign this petition to protect El Jefe’s dwindling habitat. Most of all share this story so that others know about the United States jaguar population of one.