"El Jefe" is the only known wild jaguar living in the United States; he roams not far from Tucson, Arizona
There are other wild cats in the same range, a biologist says
The big cat lurking in the mountain ranges of Arizona just miles from downtown Tucson is actually not alone.
“El Jefe,” the only known wild jaguar living in the United States, made news Wednesday when video of the elusive cat was made public.
This footage, captured by remote sensor cameras, showed the wild creature lurking through the brush and up a creek.
The nonprofits Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity released video of the creature during an ongoing project to monitor the endanger species in the mountain ranges of Arizona.
“Studying these elusive cats anywhere is extremely difficult, but following the only known individual in the U.S. is especially challenging,” Chris Bugbee, a biologist with Canservation CATalyst, wrote in a news release.
The male jaguar is believed to have made his journey to Arizona from 130 miles south of the border. Jaguars tend to be solitary animals, so it is not rare to find one living alone.
He is known to biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services as jaguar Santa Rita, since this is the location where the jaguar roams.
“El Jefe,” which means “the boss” in Spanish, was the name chosen by local school kids through the Center for Biological Diversity in October.
The endangered cat first became known in 2011 when a hunter and his dogs had treed the animal.
“The hunter snapped some photos to help officials identify the animal before calling off his dogs and leaving the area to observe it from a safe distance,” Marit Alanen, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Center, wrote in a news release in 2015.
Since 2011, this jaguar has been captured in hundreds of photographs. These powerful beasts have distinctive spots on them allowing for easy identification.
Jaguars use to roam from California to Texas, and as far east as Louisiana, in the 1800s. Because of farming and ranching, their habitat dwindled down.
This big cat was placed on the endangered species list on 1972, and since then, a conservation effort has been put in place.
“El Jefe” has been the fifth jaguar to be identified and photographed in Arizona since 1996.
Although he is the only known living wild jaguar in the United States, he isn’t the only big cat roaming the mountains in his neighborhood.
“He is joined by three ocelots, which are endangered, several mountain lions and bobcats,” Alanen told CNN.
In conservation efforts, the University of Arizona installed cameras in area mountain ranges to monitor the movement of wildlife.
“One camera did photograph the jaguar, ocelots, mountain lions and bobcats at separate times,” Alanen said. “Southern Arizona is one of the few places in the U.S. to see four wild cats living in the same area.”
This shows that there are enough resources to sustain the different species.
Even though these wild cats might not be playing in the same sand box together, it does give hope in the conservation efforts.
Visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Flickr website, where they document all the jaguar and ocelot sightings.