Jaguars are native to the American Southwest, but there’s a reason you haven’t seen any of these majestic big cats wandering around the Grand Canyon lately—there’s only one left in the United States (that we know of, anyway). “El Jefe,” as he was recently named by Tucson school kids, lives in Arizona’s Santa Rita Mountains. And for the first time, a video released this week by Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity gives the public a glimpse into his world.
For jaguars, one isn’t the loneliest number; with the exception of mating season, the animals are solitary. But biologists hope that El Jefe won’t always be quite so alone. Though predator control programs in early 20th century wiped out the spotted cats in the northern part of their range, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife service has since set aside more than 750,000 acres of critical jaguar habitat in Arizona and New Mexico to help the species return to the States. The Center for Biological Diversity is currently working to stop a proposed copper mine in the Santa Ritas that threatens to hinder that effort. After all, everyone likes a good comeback story.
onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.