El Jefe, the last wild jaguar known to be living in the United States, has been captured on video which was made public earlier this week. These are exciting news since sightings of the jaguar have been few and far in between.

The video was captured by remote sensor cameras on Wednesday in Santa Rita Mountains in Tucson, Arizona, and was released by Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity last week, who are both closely watching over the endangered species in Arizona’s mountain ranges. The video captures a footage of the male jaguar, El Jefe, while making his way through the forest.

Photo: Conservation CATalyst/Center for Biological Diversity
Photo: Conservation CATalyst/Center for Biological Diversity

El Jefe is the only known jaguar living in the United States after a long time. “Studying these elusive cats anywhere is extremely difficult, but following the only known individual in the U.S. is especially challenging,” said Conservation CATalyst biologist Chris Bugbee. According to researchers, it is the fifth jaguar that has been spotted in Arizona over the last two decades.

“Studying these elusive cats anywhere is extremely difficult, but following the only known individual in the US is especially challenging,” said Chris Bugbee, a biologist from Conservation CATalyst. “We use our specially-trained scat detection dog and spent three years tracking in rugged mountains, collecting data and refining camera sites; these videos represent the peak of our efforts.”

“El Jefe has been living more or less in our backyard for more than three years now. It’s our job to make sure that his home is protected and he can get what he needs to survive,” said Randy Serraglio, a conservation advocate from the Center for Biological Diversity, “Just knowing that this amazing cat is right out there, just 25 miles from downtown Tucson, is a big thrill”.

But the jaguar, which has been considered endangered since 2011, is now under a new threat. A Canadian mining company, Hudbay Minerals, is pushing to develop a mile-wide open pit copper mine in the Rosemont Mine, in the central area of the jaguar’s territory.

This mile-wide open pit can potentially cause permanent damage to thousands of acres of federally protected area, only inhabited by El Jefe. The mine will measure a mile-wide and half-mile deep and is planned in the exact location of the jaguar, in the Santa Rita Mountains, 30 miles south of Tucson.

Biologists believe that this project would bring 800-foot-high piles of toxic mine waste which would completely damage the surroundings. “The Rosemont Mine would destroy El Jefe’s home and severely hamstring recovery of jaguars in the United States,” said Serraglio, who is against the project. “At ground zero for the mine is the intersection of three major wildlife corridors that are essential for jaguars moving back into the U.S. to reclaim lost territory. The Santa Rita Mountains are critically important to jaguar recovery in this country, and they must be protected.”

According to Marit Alanen, a biologist from the US Fish and Wildlife Center, El Jefe is not alone in the territory. There are also three ocelots, several mountain lions and bobcats living along.

Sources: ABC News