America got a good look at the United States' only known wild jaguar in a 41-second video released Wednesday. "The dramatic footage provides a glimpse of the secretive life of one of nature’s most majestic and charismatic creatures," the Center for Biological Diversity states in a press release. El Jefe, as the jaguar is known, has made his home in Arizona's Santa Rita Mountains, and this is the first video of him ever released. “Just knowing that this amazing cat is right out there, just 25 miles from downtown Tucson, is a big thrill,” the center's Randy Serraglio says. The video is the result of three years of tracking using remote cameras, the Atlantic reports. "In bringing this video, we hope to inspire people to care about these animals and support protection for their homes," Serraglio tells Phys.org.
Jaguars disappeared from the US due to a loss of habitat and the implementation of livestock protection programs over the past century. El Jefe has been the only jaguar verified to be living in the US wilderness since 2009. And only four or five of the big cats have been spotted in the US in the past two decades. “These glimpses into his behavior offer the keys to unlocking the mysteries of these cryptic cats,” one conservationist says. "Every new piece of information is important for conserving northern jaguars." It's not going to be easy. A Canadian company wants to build a copper mine with a "mile-wide open pit and 800-foot-high piles of toxic mine waste" right in the middle of the federally protected jaguar habitat where El Jefe lives, the Center says. "The Santa Rita Mountains are critically important to jaguar recovery in this country, and they must be protected," Serraglio says. (One captive jaguar was determined to be "too fat" to mate.)