Writer Stephen Leahy published an article on Motherboard last week titled, “Trump’s Border Wall Would Condemn US Jaguars to Extinction.” With this piece, Leahy joins the long list of authors decrying the environmental impacts of Trump’s disastrous plan.
Leahy briefly goes over the history of jaguar conservation in the United States: starting with their extirpation (local extinction) in the 1900s and continuing with their unexpected return in 1996. He talks about the unwillingness of supposed government ‘conservation’ organizations to help jaguars reestablish themselves in the US, a topic which is covered in more detail in Janay Brun’s Cloak and Jaguar. And of course, Leahy reiterates the fact that Trump’s border wall would slam the door on jaguar recovery.
I have shared many articles on this topic before, so I don’t want to go into too much detail now. Suffice it to say that all of the jaguars who’ve been seen in the US since 1996 appear to be dispersing males from Sonora, Mexico. When jaguar cubs reach sexual maturity, they leave their mothers’ home ranges to establish territories of their own.
Several male jaguars have been confirmed in Arizona since the late 1990s, and two of them apparently established permanent territories that included parts of the US. In Leahy’s article, Dr. Howard Quigley of Panthera indicated that a breeding population of jaguars could eventually return to the US. But Trump’s border wall would seal off the cats’ travel corridors from Mexico, extinguishing that dream.
It’s not just jaguars that are at risk. The wall and other security measures would harm many plant and animal species, as well as the Southwest’s growing ecotourism industry. At a time when border-crossing arrests are at a historic low, Trump’s wall would be an irrational act of self-harm.