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Video: Wild Jaguar Spotted In Arizona

The Center for Biological Diversity and Conservation CATalyst have managed to capture video footage of the last wild jaguar known to be living in the United States and for the first time ever, they’ve released footage of the male jaguar known as El Jefe–Spanish for “the boss”–to the public.

The release of the video, which was made available on Wednesday, comes at what the nonprofits referred to as a “critical point” in El Jefe’s conservation. According to the two nonprofits, that critical point is a potential conflict that is in the works – a conflict that threatens to disrupt the federally protected land that the big cat has called home in recent years.

A Canadian mining company is pushing to develop a mile-wide open pit copper mine in the heart of El Jefe’s mountainous territory, where he’s now been spotted in every single month of the year. The proposed mile-wide open pit would, according to the two nonprofits, entail the permanent destruction of “thousands of acres” of federally protected jaguar habitat that is currently inhabited by the only wild jaguar known to be living in the United States.

In a news release, the nonprofits referred to the proposed copper mine as an “800-foot-high piles of toxic mine waste would permanently destroy thousands of acres of occupied, federally protected jaguar habitat where this jaguar lives.”

Conservation advocate Randy Serraglio with the Center for Biological Diversity and Conservation indicated in a statement that he believes that the mine would not only “destroy” the home of El Jefe, but “severely hamstring” the recovery of the species in the United States.

The Rosemont Mine would destroy El Jefe’s home and severely hamstring recovery of jaguars in the United States […] 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.

In the 1800s, jaguars roamed from Louisiana to California but eventually human ranching and farming endeavors cut into their habitat to the extent that they were placed on the endangered species list.

El Jefe was first spotted in the U.S. back in 2011 when a hunter came across him with his dogs and managed to snap some photographs to aid in identification.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Center biologist Marit Alanen was quoted by CNN as having said that El Jefe is by no means the only big cat living in the mountainous region he calls home, as there are “three ocelots, which are endangered, several mountain lions and bobcats”.

He is joined by three ocelots, which are endangered, several mountain lions and bobcats

Conservation CATalyst biologist Chris Bugbee, who has actively been collecting data on El Jefe for the last three years, noted in a statement that it has been “especially challenging” to study the lone jaguar. According to Bugbee, it has taken a dog trained to detect jaguar feces, years of trekking through the “rugged mountains,” data compilation, camera site refinement and more to achieve videos such as the one recently released. Such videos, according to Bugbee, “represent the peak” of their efforts.

Smithsonian Magazine reports that it is most likely that El Jefe originally came from Sonora, Mexico, which is where the closest population of breeding jaguars can be found.

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