Lonely Planet Writer

Rare sighting of last known jaguar in USA captured

In a rare sighting,the only known jaguar in the US was caught on camera on Wednesday night in the Santa Rita Mountains in Arizona.

El Hefe, the USA's only known living jaguar
El Jefe, the USA’s only known living jaguar Image by Screengrab from Center for Biodiversity

The footage was captured by a camera placed in the mountains by a group called Conservation CATalyst which seeks to protect and monitor the movement of the American big cats. Speaking to USA Today, biologist Chris Bugbee  said: “Studying these elusive cats anywhere is extremely difficult, but following the only known individual in the US is especially challenging.”

The jaguar goes by the nickname, El Jefe, and is the only jaguar in America since the death of Macho B. The researchers and students of the Center for Biodiversity say that the cameras are helping them get a good sense of where the jaguar goes and what his habits are.

The jaguar was caught on camera in Santa Rita park in Arizona
The jaguar was caught on camera in Santa Rita park in Arizona Image by Screengrab from Center for Biodiversity/Facebook

El Jefe is supposed to be over seven years old and he is one of only four or five jaguars spotted in the US in 20 years. It is, in fact, generally unknown that the US used to have jaguars. The jaguar used to be found right across parts of the Southwest of the US, but its diminishing habitat and livestock controls made it so that the population severely dwindled. The last jaguar to be hunted and killed was in 1963.

The teams behind the conservation and protection of large felines have welcomed the footage.“Just knowing that this amazing cat is right out there, just 25 miles from downtown Tucson, is a big thrill,” said Randy Serraglio, conservationist at the center.

Watch the video here