2 jaguars released in Mexico, but 1 dies

One jaguar died and one survived a historic release into the jungle of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula — an effort aided by an Arizona veterinarian and at least two Arizona biologists.

The surviving jaguar, age 5 to 7, is still roaming under the dense canopies of the privately owned nature preserve where she was released. Pictures taken by cameras placed in the area show she is in very good condition — "fat and sassy," said Ole Alcumbrac, a Lakeside, Ariz., veterinarian who helped organize the jaguar release in cooperation with the Mexican government.

The jaguars were released into the Calakmul Biosphere Preserve, a 1.8-million-acre area owned by the Nature Conservancy. The jungle is so dense there that it took workers for the project eight hours to hack with machetes about 1.3 miles into the area to hunt for the older jaguar's kill sites.

The effort was run by the Mexican government, but it worked closely with Americans who raised $30,000 to $40,000 for the project and flew to the area. Participants included two Texas Tech University wildlife experts and an official with a wildlife veterinary dental foundation from Colorado. The jaguars got repairs to canine teeth, including a root canal for the younger jaguar, after each animal broke a tooth trying to escape from its cage. After being trained to hunt for prey in the wild, the jaguars were released before Mexican television cameras because the government wanted to make the public aware of problems jaguars face and the importance of protecting them and their habitat.

Read the rest of the story at Arizona Daily Star