A Year of Accomplishment

December 5, 2008

While the economy in the U.S. has turned topsy-turvy, a small population of jaguars remains in need of protection south of the border in Sonora, Mexico. Even though the market here has taken a tumble, wild cats and the vast diversity of wildlife found at the Northern Jaguar Reserve need your help now as much as ever before.

In Mexico, jaguars have been extirpated from more than 60 percent of their historic range. Humans have isolated and killed jaguars in ways that have left them little refuge. The Northern Jaguar Project is reversing this trend and undoing this damage by strengthening conservation activities in Sonora, safeguarding the jaguar population, and making sure there remains a protected place for these magnificent cats to roam.

This year has been one filled with accomplishments for NJP. It began with the purchase of Rancho Zetasora, the 35,000-acre ranch that now comprises the majority of the Northern Jaguar Reserve. The purchase was an unparalleled achievement for our grassroots, no-fluff organization. In recognition of the new reserve, we received the Defenders of Wildlife national Spirit of Defenders Award for Citizen Advocacy, which was presented by Congressman Raúl Grijalva.

In 2008, we built nearly one quarter of our $1 million Stewardship and Long-term Management Fund. It is safe with an investment firm that specializes in responsible investing for philanthropists and non-profits.

NJP and our Mexican partner Naturalia this year hired two experienced jaguar guardians trained in biology and a reserve vaquero to conduct basic research, monitor jaguars, and maintain a consistent physical presence on the reserve.

We have also expanded our precedent-setting Feline Photo Project – a compensation program on nearby ranches that requires ranchers not kill any predators. Instead, they are compensated for photos taken by motion-triggered cameras we install. We have doubled the number of cameras this year and hired a full-time field technician dedicated to working with this community.

Finally, the year also brought more rain than the eldest residents of the municipio of Sahuaripa had seen in their lifetimes. It turned the Northern Jaguar Reserve into a rich jungle of vegetation, providing ample water for all of the thirsty wildlife species that have suffered years of drought. However downpours washed out the road through the reserve, so jaguar guardians had to ride mules to camera sites and researchers had to temporarily postpone wildlife surveys.

We expect the coming year to be just as productive as 2008, but we’re going to need help to reach our major conservation goals. Your contribution will:

  • Send bird and botany experts to conduct scientific inventories at the reserve;
  • Keep the jaguar guardians on the ground studying local wildlife;
  • Support new water quality analyses to evaluate the health of the Río Aros in the face of the looming threat of hydraulic gold mining operations upstream;
  • Initiate landscape restoration through erosion control and in-stream gabions;
  • Foster productive wildlife habitat by improving watering holes and removing buffelgrass;
  • Explore innovative methods to increase deer and javelina populations thereby discouraging jaguars from wandering away from the reserve;
  • Continue mapping safe-passage corridors for jaguars to return to the U.S. and other Mexican reserves;
  • Complete the process of obtaining federal protection for the reserve through a Mexican presidential decree; and
  • Improve infrastructure on the reserve, converting dilapidated ranch houses into research and visitor facilities with solar panels and clean water supplies.

Your donations also help to maintain our small Tucson office, which provides valuable resources for our conservation partners in Mexico. Only four percent of our annual budget last year went to office operations and fundraising, and we continue to follow the same simple and no nonsense approach that sees your dollars directly supporting jaguar conservation.