Two conservation groups are using a video of the last known jaguar in the United States outside Tucson as a way to defeat a proposed open pit copper mine.

The Rosemont Mine would reportedly create a mile-wide open pit with 800-foot-high piles of toxic mining waste in the Santa Rita Mountains, an area known as key habitat for the jaguar named El Jefe. 

“Clearly, the Santa Rita Mountains are a vital part of this cat’s home range,” said Chris Bugbee, a biologist with thee Conservation CATalyst, who together with the Center for Biological Diversity released the video on Facebook. “This jaguar has been photographed in every month of the year in these mountains — there are more than 100 detections of him in the Santa Ritas since 2013 — how could anyone argue the importance of these mountains?”


Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity released new video today of the only known wild jaguar currently in the United States.Captured on remote sensor cameras in the Santa Rita Mountains just outside of Tucson, the dramatic footage provides a glimpse of the secretive life of one of nature’s most majestic and charismatic creatures. This is the first-ever publicly released video of the #jaguar, recently named ‘El Jefe’ by Tucson students, and it comes at a critical point in this cat’s conservation. Learn more here:

Posted by Center for Biological Diversity on Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wildlife biologists spent several years tracking the big cat, who they believe to be male and in prime health, over the past three years. After studying his movements, they were able to find key locations to place their cameras. This fall they got lucky with these extraordinary images. 

“These glimpses into his behavior offer the keys to unlocking the mysteries of these cryptic cats” said Aletris Neils, executive director of Conservation CATalyst, in a press release.

Jaguars have historically roamed the areas of the Southwest United States including the Grand Canyon and Southern California mountains and as far east as Louisiana. But after habitat loss and government predator control, the cats have been nearly wiped out.

By saving El Jefe, the conservation groups to pave the way for more jaguars to enter the US from Mexico.

Photo credit: Screenshot