Well, it wasn’t a real jaguar but it was the 175 foot jaguar tapestry that Defenders of Wildlife, our supporters, and volunteers from across the nation helped to create and carry up Sentinel Peak Park’s A Mountain this past weekend at the first BEYOND Tucson event. This was one of a community-wide series of events that aims to keep the message of unity alive that the city experienced after the tragic shootings of January 8, 2011 and encourages residents to get out and enjoy public lands.
The “Sewing Spot Together” tapestry, which was conceived by local artist Stephanie Bowman, was created with the aim of drawing attention to the struggles faced by the jaguar in the southwest region of the United States as it tries to regain a foothold within its historical range. The variety of intricate panels that comprise the tapestry represent the diversity of the Tucson community, but they are stitched together in a single tapestry to send a united message of tolerance and openness to the return of the America’s biggest cat to Arizona’s wild lands. The event itself was a great success with over 30 Defenders supporters coming out to help carry the tapestry up the mountain as they marched beside other Tucson residents, high school students and boy scout troops from the area who had designed sectional panels of their own.
Jaguars once roamed as far north as the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Although now rare in the United States, jaguars are still sometimes seen in the southwestern US, and there is hope that they will return to their home in the borderlands. It is believed that the most northern viable population of these big cats is just south of the US-Mexico border in the foothills of the Sierra Madre. Their numbers are now perilously low due to human population growth, agricultural expansion, and poaching. The jaguar is federally listed as endangered throughout its entire range. For the long therm health of jaguar populations, the various “spots” in which they live must have wildlife corridors connecting them. Like much of life, the jaguar needs room to roam.
Thanks to everyone who came out and showed their support!