TUCSON, AZ --The only known wild jaguar in the United States is seen roaming parts of an Arizona mountain range in the first publicly released video of the giant cat.
"El Jefe," Spanish for "the boss," has been living in the Santa Rita Mountains for over three years, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
El Jefe is about 7 years old and is one of only four or five jaguars that have been spotted in the U.S. in the last 20 years.
"A lot of people have no idea that we have jaguars in the United States or that they belong here," said Randy Serraglio of the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity. "In bringing this video, we hope to inspire people to care about these animals and support protection for their homes."
Conservationists say El Jefe's habitat is threatened by a proposed open-pit copper mine in the Santa Ritas. The proposed Rosemont Mine has been in the works for several years but is tied up in the permitting phase. A spokeswoman for the company that owns the mine, Hudbay Minerals, did not immediately comment Wednesday.
The videos of El Jefe were captured by Conservation CATalyst, an organization focused on conserving cats that The Center for Biological Diversity contracts with. Conservation CATalyst has about a dozen cameras in the areas where El Jefe lives and plans to add more, Serraglio said.
Jaguars roamed the U.S. Southwest but disappeared 150 years ago because of habitat loss and predator control programs aimed at protecting livestock.