First off, I’m very saddened. For those of us who have been following the jaguar story in the US, this is bad news indeed. Macho B was the one constant in all of this; he might have gone missing for months on end but he’d always come back, fit and beautiful. And when he was collared I was extremely excited as I believed it would unlock a lot of the questions about where he went, when he was active, etc. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to provide much more info before his recapture and euthanasia.
I know that biology (well, wildlife management) is more concerned with the population than the individual, but Macho B was pretty much both. So losing him is a blow on multiple levels. The wilds of Arizona are a little less wild and certainly less colorful today. And if you read any of the comment sections on the newspaper sites you will inevtably see someone write “I had no idea there were jaguars in the US!!” So thanks for being an Arizonan, Macho B!
I must say that the blog pages and announcements saying Macho B was “killed” (I’m looking at you CBD) are inflammatory and just uncool. He was euthanized, not hunted down and shot behind a bush. Now, I know the finger pointing is going to start (has started!) with people saying we shouldn’t have collared him and why do we have to kill things and screw everything up? And I can see that point, but I think in the bigger picture, collaring Macho B was a risk worth taking. Had he provided a few months of vital data before dying everyone would be happy and congratulating themselves. And data is what is needed now. Hey, if I ran the world I would protect wild animals and there would be no border wall, no shoot, shovel and shut-up, and everything would be perfect. But the reality is that there needs to be hard data to show bureaucrats who make the actual decisions. Do you think the FWS would suddenly decide on a recovery plan for jaguars in the US just because it’s the right thing to do? So I think the collaring was worth it. And let’s be honest, 16 years is a pretty good run for a house cat, to say nothing of a wild jaguar. My gut tells me that he was sick when first captured and wasn’t long for the world. And I take some comfort in the fact that we know what became of him, rather than him just disappearing. Granted, it wasn’t a natural death but it was painless.
I like to remember Macho B as the young cat that Jack Childs treed in ’96, all power and feline disdain. Or the plug of muscle in this picture from Emil McCain:
Now is the time to refocus on conservation for jaguars from all parties. We all want the same thing, so let’s see how much more we can work together. And who knows, I like to think that when Macho B was off on one of his walkabouts he was fathering Machos C,D,E and F in some hidden canyon. Let’s always remember Macho B and look for other jags. Viva El Tigre!!
Here’s a link to National Geographic’s coverage of the story. I hope time will prove Alan Rabinowitz wrong; Macho B wasn’t “an anomaly” IMHO.