Mexican authorities are reporting that a jaguar has been spotted for the first time near Mitla, 24 miles from the southern Oaxaca state capital, Oaxaca City. Mexico’s National Commission for Protected Areas says the jaguar is the first one confirmed to exist in the area and likely migrated from Oaxaca’s Sierra Juarez mountain range.
The jaguar was detected by remote cameras attached to trees and other vegetation used by conservationists to observe the movement of animals at night. The camera also captured a puma and a white-tailed deer.
Israel Juarez Hernandez, the Secretary of the Commission for Communal Property, said that the sighting of jaguars and white-tailed deer was extremely rare, and surprised even long-term residents of the area.
"There were rumors and talk that there were pumas, but the fact that this jaguar was spotted here in our mountains is very rare, like the white-tailed deer. I have not seen one myself, but it's been proven that the white-tailed deer has existed here near our community," he said.
For many cultures, Jaguars are an important symbol of pre-Columbian mythology. As the jaguar is quite at home in the nighttime, the jaguar is believed to be part of the underworld. One such god is Xbalanque, one of the Maya Hero Twins who descended to the underworld, and whose entire body is covered with patches of jaguar skin. Another is God L, who is "the primary lord of the underworld" and often is shown with a jaguar ear or jaguar attire, and atop a jaguar throne.