I have exciting news to share with you on this World Wildlife Day! Today has been set aside by the United Nations to celebrate the many ways in which wild animals enrich our lives. They provide valuable ecosystem services, play vital roles in our cultures, and are worth protecting in their own right. As such, it seems appropriate that news just broke of a third jaguar photographed in Arizona.
Until November of 2016, El Jefe was thought to be the only wild jaguar in the United States. However, during that month another male jaguar was photographed near Fort Huachuca in Arizona. Now, a third individual has been confirmed in that state. This jaguar was photographed approximately 60 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border – and no one knows what sex it is.
This is exciting news. Twenty years ago, jaguars were believed to be extirpated in the U.S. But after a pair of sightings in 1996, male jaguars have repeatedly been seen in Arizona. They are believed to have originated in the Mexican state of Sonora, which holds the northernmost known breeding population of jaguars. But no one knows for sure. It is also difficult to determine if the recent increase in sightings is because there are more jaguars in the U.S., or because there are more trail cameras in southern Arizona. Regardless, a new jaguar confirmation is an excellent way to celebrate World Wildlife Day.
Center for Biological Diversity. (2017, March 2). Third jaguar detected in Arizona. Retrieved from http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2017/jaguar-03-02-2017.php.
Davis, T. (2017, March 2). New jaguar photographed in Southern Arizona; third seen here since ’11. Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved from http://tucson.com/news/local/new-jaguar-photographed-in-southern-arizona-third-seen-here-since/article_53e1460c-ff6d-11e6-9c8a-b3ad3d2f7be1.html.
United Nations. (2017). World Wildlife Day 3 March. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/events/wildlifeday/.