His name is El Jefe and he walks alone. For the first time, scientists were able to capture on video the only remaining wild jaguar in the United States.
El Jefe means "The Boss" in Spanish and for several years, photos of the wild jaguar have circulated on the Internet. A team of scientists from the Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity released a three-clip video showing El Jefe roaming in the Santa Rita Mountains located outside Tucson. The three-clip video was only 40 seconds long, but it clearly showed El Jefe in all his muscular motion glory.
Biologist Chris Bugbee from the Conservation CATalyst said they used their scat detection dog in their three-year project. They tracked the mountains to collect data about El Jefe's movements so they can fine-tune their camera locations.
"Studying these elusive cats anywhere is extremely difficult, but following the only known individual in the U.S. is especially challenging," said Bugbee.
According to the group's Executive Director Aletris Neils, the project enabled them to conclude that El Jefe is indeed an adult male jaguar who is in top condition. Neils added that the information gathered is crucial to the species' conservation. The short video reveals the big cat's behavior in the wild, which could help conservation groups to make better decisions.
The Center for Biological Diversity urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to dedicate a protected habitat for the jaguar, which is listed as an endangered species in the country. In 2015, the USFWS dedicated almost 800,000 acres of land near Tucson.
The jaguar population was bigger prior to the loss of natural habitat to urban development and increase in hunting activities.
Conservationists said El Jefe's new video is another reason to stop the planned open-pit copper mine in the area, which is also home to another endangered species, the ocelot. This smaller wild cat was last photographed in 2014.
Jaguars are the third biggest wild cats in the world. The only ones bigger are lions and tigers. The alleged last remaining wild jaguar in the U.S. was given the name El Jefe in October 2015.
The center has spent decades saving wild jaguars across the country. They hope that wandering jaguars from Mexico will soon join El Jefe.