Thursday, May 10, 2007

Jaguar, Baby!

Highly endangered and once extinct in the United States, the jaguar has once again been seen in New Mexico. Right on, big spotted kitty dude.

From a Nature Conservancy article in 2006:

The jaguar—the largest cat native to the Americas—has been making its way north from a core population of a couple hundred cats 140 miles to the south, according to biologists. “Historically, jaguars ranged as far north as the Grand Canyon,” says Peter Warren, a Conservancy grassland manager in Arizona. “The return of these big cats is an indicator that conservation work near the border is paying off.”

You can read more about it here.

According to a local news report last night, the most recent jaguar spotting in the United States was back in August, 2006, in New Mexico's Hidalgo County, which is located in the state's boot heel. The lucky spotter was Arizona rancher Warner Glenn, who was in New Mexico hunting mountain lion. Only three people have seen the Jaguar in the wild in the United States in the past ten years. Glenn wins the eagle eye prize for two of those instances.

Here's the photo Glenn took last year.

The jaguar is one of the most popular symbols in Mesoamerican artwork, and first showed up in "jaguar baby" carvings by the proto-Mayan culture, the Olmec. The jaguar would subsequently figure very prominently in the artwork of all Mesoamerican societies, whose rulers naturally wanted to associate themselves with one of the most regal and powerful creatures of their area. The jaguar was respected for its hunting prowess, agility, strength, and aggressiveness.

I see their point. If I were to come back as an animal in my next life, I think I'd like to be a jaguar. I mean, just look at it. That is one bad ass, smooth-moving, tres chic kitty.

Here is a photo of a Mayan "jaguar baby" carving. You can read more about jaguar baby or were-jaguar symbolism here.

The jaguars are believed to be coming up from Mexico. Which begs the question: if GWB is so all fired up to merge Mexico, Canada, and the United States, why is he building a wall between New Mexico and Mexico? 'Cause if we're once again going to claim this enchanted animal for the Land of Enchantment, it's going to need to move freely between our borders.


Meghan said...

How cool.

Now let us hope the border patrol doesn't ask for their papers.

(By the way, I love reading about the mythos that surrounds the Jaguar in South American culture. Thanks for that linkage.)

Doris Rose said...

Excellent reporting, Moi.It's a magnificent animal. I love snow leopards, but this one is a keeper.

Wicked Thistle said...

It's a lovely bright spot in my day to hear this good news--the jaguar is back, the jaguar is back! Much better than the usual murder & mayhem we get on the news.

Once my sister and I tracked a black panther all over my 'hood. It was *real,* baby--big, black, shiny, and oh-so-exotic. We decided that if it turned on us and attacked, she would blind it with the flash on her camera while I outran her. Fortunately, it morphed into a house cat so we were left alive to live another day.