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Watch: New Species of Wild Jaguar in Arizona, All the Details

jaguar tree
Image Credit: Molnár Tamás Photography™
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The Latest Sighting

A trail camera set up deep in the Huachuca Mountains near Tucson, Arizona, captured footage of a new, rare species of wild jaguar. Spotted on December 20th, 2023, the sighting of this beast has garnered great buzz among conservationists and scientists alike.

Only the 8th wild jaguar recorded in the United States since the 1990s, this rare cat is a distinct subspecies from the common jaguar (Panthera onca), and is yet to be scientifically classified. The sighting was reported by Jason Miller, a wildlife videographer who posts trail camera footage to his YouTube channel.

Wild Jaguar Sightings in the US

jaguar sighting
Image Credit: Depositphotos

The Jaguar Sightings Database records all new jaguar sightings in the United States, with data going as far back as 1829. This new discovery provides some hope for the conservation of jaguars, a species listed as “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature

El Jefe, Sombra, and Yo’oko are three wild jaguars whose sightings have been recorded around Arizona over the past 20 years, with Yo’oko believed to have been killed. The Arizona Game and Fish Department has confirmed that the new sighting is of a different jaguar, based on the jaguar’s spots and markings. 

About Jaguars

wild jaguar head shot
Image Credit: Cburnett; Wikimedia Commons

Strong and majestic cats, jaguars are found mostly in the Northern regions of South America and in Central America. They typically inhabit swamps, dry deciduous forests, and scrub grasslands. 

These cats are carnivorous mammals who feed on a variety of prey, including fish, birds, and small mammals. 

Jaguars are solitary and territorial, and if you spot one they will likely be on a solo hunt. Further, unlike most cats, jaguars are also skilled swimmers and will frequently dive to catch fish.

The Decline of Wild Jaguar Populations

wild jaguar sleeping
Image Credit: Benni Fish; Pexels

As with most species, the population numbers of jaguars in the wild have been declining due to increased urban development, which has destroyed their habitats, and poaching. A generous estimate for the number of individual jaguars alive is 173,000 individuals, with that number being less than half the population 100 years ago. The actual number is unknown, due to the density of the environments they inhabit. 

Jaguar Conservation Efforts

rare wild jaguar
Image Credit: USFWS; Wikimedia Commons

The discovery of this new jaguar species should hopefully attract additional attention and funding towards conservation efforts of jaguars. Current conservation efforts include protecting and restoring jaguar habitats, creating more wildlife corridors, and addressing the illegal trade of jaguar coats and body parts. 

What Can I Do To Help?

The best way you can help the conservation efforts is to spread awareness. You can do this by sharing the stories to social media or with your friends and family members. 

If you can and are willing to do more, you can donate to any of several wildlife conservation funds and societies, like WCS or Panthera.  

Conclusion

jaguar sleeping
Image Credit: Audrey Walsh; Pexels

It is hopeful that this sighting is a sign of the jaguar population becoming slowly restored. Although, unfortunately, this is unlikely. At least this sighting should bring awareness to the conservation status of this species and encourage future research.

Finally, this unprecedented discovery of a rare and unclassified species serves to remind us that there is still much to know about our own planet.

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