NEAR TUCSON (3TV/CBS 5) - A rare and wild feline was caught on camera near the Arizona-Mexico border.
Conservation CATalyst released a video on Monday of an ocelot in the mountains of southeastern Arizona. The video shows three different clips of the same ocelot.
The endangered cat was given the nickname "Lil' Jefe" by Manzo Elementary School Students in Tucson. The ocelot has been in that area for at least five years, according to Conservation CATalyst.
The Tucson-based nonprofit says there have been at least five ocelots documented in Arizona.
“These remarkable videos provide invaluable observations into the behaviors of the most mesmerizing and mysterious of all wild cats in America,” said Dr. Aletris Neils, executive director of Conservation CATalyst.
One of the clips shows Lil' Jefe during the day and his spotted coat is easy to see. Each pattern of an ocelot is unique so the patterns can be used to identify different ocelots, like a fingerprint.
“We can tell all three video clips are from the same adult male ocelot; he is exquisite and is clearly thriving in the mountains of Arizona,” explained Neils.
Ocelots often go back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico as they hunt, search for mates, and establish new territories. Conservationists believe more ocelots will be expanding their territory and go farther north.
“I expect to see Sonoran ocelots continue to arrive in Arizona," said Neils. “As long as we protect the integrity of their habitat and maintain connectivity with Sonora, these cats have the capacity to naturally recolonize lost territory in Arizona.”
Ocelot faces a lot of conversation challenges, the nonprofit said, like habitat loss, poaching, poisoning, getting hit by cars and other "escalating disturbances."
Ocelots and jaguars are the two endangered cats in Arizona.
Since the cats move around the area a lot, Conservation CATalyst has come out against President Donald Trump's border wall.
"One of the greatest single threats to ocelot recovery in the United States is the proposed expansion of the U.S.-Mexico border wall," said Chris Bugbee, senior researcher at Conservation CATalyst. "If there was ever a solid physical barrier that spanned the entire border, as is planned by our current administration, it would be ‘game over’ for both jaguar and ocelot recovery in this country. Such a fate is unacceptable.”
Click here for more information about Conservation CATalyst.