A Month of Good News for Large Cats in the Sky Islands

We at Sky Island Alliance love this region’s large cats. After all, how many places in the world can you find bobcat, mountain lion, ocelot, and jaguar all living together in mountain and grassland habitat? 

The answer, of course, is not very many. We are lucky to live in such an incredibly biodiverse region.

A bobcat. Photo Credit: Sky Island Alliance


Wild cats have always been a point of hope and heartache in this place. We celebrate every spotted cat detected on wildlife cameras in Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico—and we mourn their habitat that has been fragmented by highways and border walls or threatened by hunting and the use of rodenticides. (Rodenticides are highly toxic to cats and can be deadly). 

While Sky Island mountain lion and bobcat populations hold steady, jaguar and ocelot numbers are in steady decline in the United States as they become increasingly isolated from their core populations in Mexico. It has been decades since a female jaguar has been documented in the U.S.—the last known female jaguar here was killed in 1963and only a handful of males have been sighted by hunters, wildlife organizations, and federal agencies since the early 2000s. 

In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that jaguar, considered endangered, are only using 51% of their historic range in the Western Hemisphere. 

We work steadily in the Sky Island region to protect and restore wild cat habitat. As such, we are always delighted to hear good news about these iconic cats—and the last month is no exception. Since early March, multiple stories have appeared about jaguar and ocelot: mainly about new sightings! 

Recent Large Cat News: 

Here’s a round-up of all the happy news we’ve seen, just in case you’ve missed it. 

April 6, 2021: 

The Northern Jaguar Project, located in Tucson, Arizona, announces the arrival of their newest jaguar cub. Mother and cub are located on a wild reserve in Sonora, Arizona. 

March 23, 2021:

A researcher from the University of Arizona detects a male jaguar juvenile less than three miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border. This particular sighting is an encouraging sign, as juveniles mean female jaguar are often close by. At the same time, it also means we must continue the fight to keep our borderlands open, wild, and uninhibited by a border wall.

Related Coverage: National Geographic | Tucson.com  

March 4, 2021: 

Sky Island FotoFauna participant Eric Herman shares his detection of a known male ocelot in the Huachuca Mountains. He sent us this photo that was taken by a remote camera in early February. 

Photo Credit: Eric Herman, Sky Island FotoFauna Participant

Get Involved This Year—Help Us Protect Cat Habitat: 

We believe in a world where iconic wild cats thrivea world where people in the Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico are united in providing safe passage for wildlife species across public lands and private ranches, a world where people pledge not to hunt large cats or use known toxins that could harm them. 

To work toward this vision, we’ve just launched the 1,000 Cats Project. This project will allow us, our partners, binational volunteers, and many others to collect wild cat data and take meaningful actions to protect the habitats of jaguar, ocelot, mountain lion, and bobcat. Our goal is to log 1,000 cat detections—be it tracks, scat, signs, or actual sightings—to iNaturalist, a community science application. 

Will you help us better protect these cats in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands and make our conservation vision for these beautiful animals a reality? Learn more about the 1,000 Cats Project.