El Jefe, the only wild jaguar known in the United States has been filmed for the first time

L’animale, ripreso in Arizona dopo anni di ricerche, è minacciato dalla costruzione di una miniera di rame che distruggerebbe il suo territorio.

Scientists have many times tracked the presence of a jaguar (Panthera onca) in Arizona and New Mexico over the past three years. The latest documented jaguar, Macho B, died in 2009, but just a few days ago an incredible footage shot a jaguar, which is likely to be the only wild individual known in the United States.


Esemplare di giaguaro
Jaguars once roamed the entire American country. In the United States, they have been declared extinct in 1965, due to hunting and habitat loss


The video, made thanks to photo traps installed in the Santa Rita Mountains, Arizona, has been released by the association Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity, which protects about 300,000 hectares of habitat to encourage jaguars’ recovery in the United States.


These large felines are mysterious and lone animals, “almost moody,” said big cat expert Alan Rabinowitz. “If there’s one defining characteristic that distinguishes it from the other big cats, it’s that you never know what a jaguar is thinking”. The animal filmed near Tucson has been named El Jefe (the boss), after that researchers spent over 3 years collecting proofs of its presence and try to document its existence.

El Jefe represents a relic of the past. Jaguars populated the American continent since the Pleistocene, but have been later wiped out by man, who devastated their habitat and hunted them to extinction. The last wild jaguar known in the US was killed in 1965 by a deer hunter in Arizona.


These wonderful creatures are now considered at risk all over the world and are protected by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Biologists and environmentalists hope that other jaguars now roaming near the Mexican border will soon join el Jefe.


Being the only known jaguar in the United States is not the only problem el Jefe has to face: a Canadian mining company aims to realise a huge copper mine in the very area where the jaguar was photographed.


Montagne Santa Rita, Arizona
The Santa Rita Mountains, near Tucson, Arizona, are the area El Jefe calls home


The mine would destroy El Jefe’s home and severely hamstring recovery of jaguars in the United States,” said Randy Serraglio, biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s our job to make sure that his home is protected and he can get what he needs to survive”.

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