A Letter from Our Reserve Biologist

December 10, 2016

Dear friends old and new,

My name is Carmina. I am so happy to be living in Sahuaripa again. When I accepted a position in 2008 as one of the first jaguar guardians on the Northern Jaguar Reserve, I did not realize the huge commitment my now-husband Miguel and I were undertaking.

We saw the reserve and the Viviendo con Felinos project become established and grow. We also came to know many individual jaguars. While we did not set out to have favorites, Perrito, El Inmenso, and Corazón each held a special place in our hearts. We still remember the day we heard a loud roar, silence, and another roar at the bottom of the canyon. That was El Inmenso.

After four years, we felt we needed more preparation and education to really help this endangered population. We wanted to help more than we knew how in that moment.

I have always thought that science is essential for an effective conservation plan, so Miguel and I left to pursue our graduate studies. He obtained his master’s degree based on ocelot research on the reserve. I was able to use the reserve’s jaguar records for my Ph.D. studies, which helped me understand a little more about this beautiful species. But I also realized that we need to expand studies because we cannot protect a single species like the jaguar without consideration for all of the other species it interacts with.

Studying jaguars at the university, even without being on the reserve, was like continuing to work for this project. I always knew that my results were going to be used for jaguar conservation, and it didn’t take long for Miguel and I to decide to come back to the reserve when we finished school.

It has been great to see old friends, vaqueros, and ranchers who still remember us after several years. It is also great to see how the reserve and Viviendo con Felinos project have grown in our absence.

Miguel and I have a stronger commitment today than when we first arrived eight years ago, and we know the challenges and responsibilities are bigger. We also know that day by day more people in Sahuaripa understand the importance jaguars have for the ecosystem and more people commit to protecting them.

Having our home here allows us to get closer to the community. We can be in direct contact with the Viviendo con Felinos ranchers, we can listen to their needs and concerns, and together, we can plan the best strategies for their ranches and also for the jaguar.

I always have in my mind Caza, Chiltepin, Elvis, Francisco, Suki, her cub Carmen, and all the jaguars that roamed the area this year and need our protection. I also think about the 50 jaguars we have detected over the last decade and carry them with me.

Negative people will always exist, yet despite them, we are optimistic. We know that working as a solid team, we will continue protecting these and future jaguars.

Thank you for helping us help jaguars.

We look forward to sharing our adventures with you!

–Carmina Gutiérrez González, Ph.D.

Northern Jaguar Reserve Biologist