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Macho B Jaguar Information

Macho B Jaguar Arizona



The Story of Macho B 

Posted March 13, 2009

Although jaguars are native to Arizona, little is known about the population segment that resides in Mexico and uses southern Arizona and New Mexico as the northern extent of its range.

It was thought the species had been extirpated from the state until 1996 when the first jaguar documented since 1986 was photographed by a southern Arizona rancher/mountain lion hunter. Since that time, wildlife biologists have tried to learn more about jaguars and their use of the borderland habitats in order to further conservation efforts. However, with little more than the occasional individual documented on remote trail cameras, the species remained an elusive mystery.

Then, on Feb. 18, 2009, jaguar conservation in the borderlands experienced an exciting development with the incidental capture, collaring and release of a jaguar. The jaguar was captured inadvertently by the Arizona Game and Fish Department during a black bear and mountain lion research study south of Tucson. Using a handling and capture protocol developed by leading jaguar experts, biologists took the opportunity to fit the cat with a lightweight satellite tracking collar in the hopes of learning more about the species’ existence in Arizona.    

The following day the cat was identified as Macho B, a male jaguar that had been photographed (mainly) by trail cameras periodically over the past 13 years. Macho B was believed to be the oldest known jaguar in the wild at 15-16 years old. Previously the oldest wild jaguar known was 13 years old. In captivity, jaguars have lived as long as 21 years.

Tracking-collar data transmitted in the days following the capture and collaring of Macho B indicated that the animal was doing well, traveling more than three miles after being released. Then the data revealed a reduced pattern of movement and foraging.

A field team consisting of Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists and a wildlife veterinarian was deployed to locate the animal and assess its overall condition. It was determined that the jaguar required recapture so that his condition could be better evaluated by expert veterinarians at The Phoenix Zoo.

Through blood tests and physical exam, zoo veterinarians found the cat was suffering from severe and unrecoverable kidney failure. Acting on a recommendation from the zoo veterinarians, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arizona Game and Fish Department determined that the jaguar should be euthanized to end his suffering. Analyses are underway at two independent laboratories to determine as much as possible about what might have contributed to the terminal kidney failure. The results will be reviewed by a third independent expert before a complete report is available to Arizona Game and Fish to share with cooperators and the public.

The death of Macho B was very disappointing from any perspective. The wildlife conservation community looked forward to using the data acquired from him to learn more about how jaguars use borderlands habitats and to better inform borderlands conservation efforts. To the public at large, the erratic but magical presence of this wily recluse was a symbol of the incalculable value of the borderlands now and, hopefully, for future generations to come. Unfortunately, the mysteries that so many hoped would be revealed by Macho B will now remain secrets. Nobody regrets the loss of Macho B more than the Arizona Game and Fish Department, especially those of us who participated in the capture, monitoring, or death of this magnificent animal.



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