Famous Arizona wild jaguar spotted alive in Mexico 7 years after last sighting

Aug 9, 2022, 9:44 AM | Updated: 12:23 pm

PHOENIX — El Jefe, the only known wild jaguar in the United States, has been spotted alive in Mexico after going unseen for seven years, the Center for Biological Diversity said in a press release.

The jaguar was spotted through pictures and motion sensors in central Sonora, 120 miles south of his last sighting in Arizona’s Santa Rita Mountains.

The 12-year-old cat still appears to be in great condition and is expected to return to Arizona at some point, the release said.

“We know he’ll need to leave the breeding population eventually, and when he does it’s reasonable to expect him to head back home to Arizona,” Chris Bugbee, a scientist with the Conservation CATalyst and the Center said.

Wildlife preservationists said El Jefe’s return to the United States may be more difficult due to the border wall being extended to some of the extremely mountainous portions of Arizona. That includes portions of the corridors jaguars use to travel between the countries.

Two other jaguars have had their northward journeys stopped short of Arizona due to the wall.

Wildlife preservationists said El Jefe is facing the destruction of his home in the Santa Rita Mountains. According to the release, his home in the Santa Rita’s is now grounds for the proposed Rosemont Copper mine about 30 miles southeast of Tucson.

El Jefe is one of only five jaguars to be photographed in the United States or immediately south of the border since 2015, the Center said.

“With hundreds of detections and data points for El Jefe, we know more about him than any other jaguar in the U.S. Every new piece of information is essential for conserving northern jaguars, and we still have much to learn from this magnificent cat,” Aletris Neils, executive director of Conservation CATalyst said in the release.

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