Megan “Turtle” Southern, NJP Coordinator
Turtle has been employed by the Northern Jaguar Project since 2007, providing administrative, fundraising, and programmatic support. After receiving a B.A. in Biology from Wittenberg University, Turtle held positions within the national office of the Student Environmental Action Coalition and in People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ research and investigations department. Since moving to Arizona in 1996, she has worked as membership coordinator for the Center for Biological Diversity and as co-editor of the Earth First! Journal. Outside of this work, Turtle traveled across the U.S. on a tandem bicycle with her dog, Ellen, to raise money for charity, and in 2005, she documented the harp seal hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Juan Carlos Bravo, Regional Representative for Naturalia
Originally from Mexico City, Juan Carlos, or “JC,” has been interested in science and nature since childhood. Upon finishing art school, he was attracted to conservation through his interest in nature photography. He began working for Naturalia on outreach and environmental education projects, including publishing the organization’s magazine Especies. In 2005, having grown with Naturalia, JC moved to Sonora to oversee the Northern Jaguar Reserve and attend to its day-to-day management. He ensures the jaguar guardians are adequately supplied, conducts conservation outreach to local residents, and facilitates research and stewardship projects. JC also attends to Naturalia’s other Sonoran wildlife preserve, Los Fresnos.
Northern Jaguar Reserve and Viviendo con Felinos Field Staff
Rick Williams, Reserve Manager
Rick has been with the Northern Jaguar Project since its inception as a board member. He moved to Tucson and eventually settled in Sonora to be more fully engaged with northern jaguar conservation. With years of experience managing a large farm in Tennessee, Rick brings a diverse skill set and a focused perspective to his newest role as reserve manager, which he began in 2010. Having worked at length with researchers in the field, he is now the person responsible for insuring the efficient management of the Northern Jaguar Reserve. Rick monitors the reserve’s overall condition as well as plans and performs infrastructure maintenance and development – everything from repairing and upgrading existing facilities to overseeing erosion control and invasive species removal. He has interacted extensively with the local community over the years, and today acts as the reserve’s ambassador.
Daniela Gutiérrez, Jaguar Guardian
Daniela began as the Viviendo con Felinos field technician in 2011 to increase knowledge about felines and their prey on ranches adjacent to the Northern Jaguar Reserve. A biologist from the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro, Daniela has participated in jaguar research with Carlos López González in Sonora and Querétaro, research on desert fox in Baja California, and a study of rodents associated with Palo fierro in Sonora. She has a master’s degree in marine ecology from CICESE (Ensenada) and has worked with the California sea lion, Guadalupe fur seal, gray whale, northern elephant seal, and humpback whale. Daniela transferred to her current role as jaguar guardian in July 2012. She’s extremely skilled at camera placement and maintenance, and continues to pursue jaguars photographs on the surrounding ranches.
Javier Valenzuela Amarillas, Jaguar Guardian
Javier is from a small community in southwestern Sonora. He initially pursued studies with coursework in industrial engineering at the Huatabampo Institute of Technology. Yet he soon learned of new opportunities at the University of the Sierra, with its emerging biology program. This regional university is located in one of the towns near the Northern Jaguar Reserve, and Javier graduated from there with a biology degree in 2010. He spent two field seasons monitoring birds and conducting vegetation studies in the Sky Island forests of northern Sonora with Aaron Flesch, the lead ornithologist responsible for bird research on the reserve. It was through this introduction that Javier became a jaguar guardian in October 2012.
Laco & Laqui Duarte, Vaqueros
This father-son duo has many duties that are unique for a pair of cowboys. They patrol the Northern Jaguar Reserve to keep trespassers out, keep fences in good condition to prevent wandering cattle from entering the reserve, maintain the reserve’s structures, carry out projects as directed by the reserve manager, and assist the jaguar guardians and visiting scientists in the field. Laco is originally from Arivechi yet has been in the Sahuaripa area for many years. Having worked as the lead cowboy for the reserve’s previous owner, Laco knows this terrain better than anyone. He is also a bit of a local artisan and makes traditional leather lassos. His son Laqui joined the reserve’s staff in 2010.
Miguel Gómez Ramírez, Research Associate
Miguel is from Querétaro, where he studied biology at the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro. His work has focused mainly on botany, mammals, and ecology. Miguel has participated in a diversity of projects involving mammals, including rodents, black bears, and jaguars in the states of Querétaro, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, and Sonora. All of those projects were directed by his teacher, Carlos López González. Miguel loves nature, and he enjoys nature photography and spending time in the field. Along with Carmina Gutiérrez and Carlos López González, Miguel collaborated with Naturalia in training the Yaqui community in the use of camera-traps, a method through which they proved the presence of jaguars in the Bacatete region. Miguel began working as a jaguar guardian at the Northern Jaguar Reserve in 2008, and he returned to the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro in summer 2012 to continue his studies in pursuit of a master’s degree.
Carmina Gutiérrez González, Research Associate
Carmina is a biologist who started her work with mammals in 2004 when she first collaborated on a field study with Carlos López González regarding the eating habits of coyotes and bobcats. She previously worked with fungi, bacteria, and soil-plant relationships. Carmina has been involved with many projects related to mammals, especially carnivores. In 2008, she received her master’s degree at the Instituto de Ecología; her thesis was on mammalian carnivore communities and camera trapping in arid ecosystems. Carmina particularly likes to work with GIS and landscape ecology related to carnivore species. Her first contact with Naturalia came as part of a training effort directed to the Yaqui community in the Sierra Bacatete. Carmina was hired as the Feline Photo Project technician in 2008, working with jaguar conservation projects at and around the Northern Jaguar Reserve; she became a jaguar guardian in September 2009. She returned to the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro in summer 2012 in a Ph.D. program that will allow her to continue her scientific studies on the reserve.