What is an apex predator? An apex predator—also called a super, alpha or top-level predator—resides at the top of the food chain upon which no other creatures prey. They are the ultimate predator; all others are the prey.
Apex predators are divided into 3 categories—terrestrial, aerial and aquatic. Aerial apex predators include the bald eagle and the red-tailed hawk. Sharks, whales and octopus are aquatic apex predators. The jaguar is a terrestrial apex predator and can present either as a spotted or black cat.
The jaguar is the 3rd largest of the big cats—after the lion and tiger. The jaguar is the only one of the Big 3 native to the Americas. Indigenous peoples from Argentina to North America regard the jaguar as a sacred cat. The jaguar was on the verge of extinction when scientists from multiple countries created a safe zone, called a “corridor”, to connect the “islands” of jaguar habitat, allowing the animals to roam freely and enable the animals to make a comeback.
The jaguar needs a wide prey territory to thrive, but the corridor stopped at the border between Mexico and the United States. It was believed that the last Arizona jaguar, a subspecies, had been killed by a hunter in the 1960s. But wildlife cameras have spotted several outlier jaguars in the borderlands south of Douglas, AZ since 2009.
In 2014, 1200 acres were bought and set aside in AZ, NM and on the other side of the border in Sonora, Mexico by conservationists. This has not happened without controversy—by NM cattle ranchers—who fear this biological reserve so close to their ranches also threatens their livelihood. Because true to their innate nature, apex predators will always be apex predators.
Of course as The Stronghold illustrates, the supreme, most deadly, apex predator of all is none other than mankind itself.
For more information and behind-the-scenes photos of The Stronghold visit https://www.pinterest.com/lisacoxcarter/the-stronghold/.