Gracefully and somewhat hesitant at first, the jaguar ventured out of the wooden crate that had transported him deep into the Sian Ka’an reserve in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, video footage showed.
Then, after 100 days of rehabilitation, the young male silently disappeared into the wild.
Calling it “a monumental success,” the International Fund for Animal Welfare (ifaw), the global non-profit which only recently made the rare video footage available, said it was the first successful rescue, rehabilitation and release of an injured jaguar back into the wild in the region.
“He left without making a single noise, and in a wonderful way he began to integrate into the jungle, immediately camouflaged,” said Joaquin de la Torre, the group’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Now Covi, as the jaguar was named, wears a satellite collar that allows experts to monitor his movements.
“He’s hunting, feeding, surviving, and that’s already a success,” de la Torre said, adding that ifaw had worked with local authorities on the rehabilitation.
The group included officials from the National Alliance for Jaguar Conservation, the federal attorney for environmental protection and state officials responsible for environmental protection, biodiversity and natural protected areas.
There are an estimated 4,000 jaguars in Mexico. The largest wild cat in the Americas, conservationists have warned that the animals face serious threats.
Covi was discovered in Chetumal in mid-June with a shoulder blade injury and lacerations to his body, which experts said came from a car accident but were not serious.
“We determined that he will no longer limp, that he can jump, move well, and that he can hunt – that’s essential when freeing an animal into the wild, especially a carnivorous animal,” de la Torre said.