Sponsored Project

Of Jaguars, Sky Islands, and Us

Leslie Ann Epperson
Leslie Ann Epperson
Sunset in the Arizona desert.

In Arizona mountains just north of the Mexico border, jaguars, once believed to be killed off in the state, have appeared on camera traps, much to the delight of locals. But though some welcome the rare cats return, they are threatened by mines, cars, poachers, and most of all, by the construction of a new, impenetrable wall.

The premise underlying this project is the firm belief that we humans receive essential spiritual sustenance whenever we encounter life's unfettered, improbable tenacity. Thought to be killed off in the United States by the 1960s, jaguars are back in Arizona. You can spot one jaguar's territory from downtown Tucson. Video of this jaguar, named El Jefe by Tucson schoolchildren, swept the world stage when it was released in 2016. Since then, other jaguars have appeared in the mountain ranges known as Sky Islands. however, the aggressive push by the Trump administration to build a border wall dividing the US-Mexico border will stop the jaguars from their natural migration forever. It is trapping the male cats in the U.S. from heading south to breed and ending the movement of other jaguars, or ocelots, or any number of endangered and threatened species from their ancient pathways.