Archive for the ‘News’ Category

A Brand New Jaguar

Monday, August 28th, 2017

“It would make my year to see a mountain lion in the wild; it would make my life to see a jaguar in the wild – here’s hoping there will be more jaguars to see.”

We received this heartfelt note from a new supporter who lives just north of the U.S.-Mexico border. You can imagine how much this touched us. And it reinforced our commitment to the vast, rugged landscape of the Northern Jaguar Reserve that protects the world’s northernmost breeding jaguar population.

With the onslaught of negativity our world is experiencing right now, we are lifted up by the steady stream of jaguar images from the reserve and neighboring Viviendo con Felinos ranches. Last week, our vaqueros came back to town with the latest batch of photographs from our motion-triggered cameras. They eagerly shared the news: One of the memory cards contained a thrilling photo. A brand new jaguar.

This was the second new jaguar in a matter of months on the Viviendo ranches, along with other jaguars who have become old friends and an unprecedented number of bobcats, mountain lions, and ocelots. In less than a year, the Viviendo ranches have far surpassed expectation with 650 feline photos combined.

We can’t share every photo with you here, but we can say thank you. Thank you for sharing a passion for wildlife and wild places. By supporting the Northern Jaguar Project, you are having a direct and positive impact on jaguars and the habitat on which they depend.

Junior Jaguar Guardians

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Viviendo con Felinos is growing to include more segments of the community. We noticed that nearly everyone enjoys scrolling through motion-triggered camera photos to see who’s walking by. The images reveal secret lives and other worlds of our animal neighbors. Collecting these photos feels like a game or scavenger hunt and has inspired our new “junior jaguar guardian” camera lending library.

Launched earlier this year, our biologists train kids in camera operation. Youth teams then go out and select camera sites together. The kids are enthusiastic to get out into nature and are starting to recognize animals that live nearby.

The actions we take with these youth today are an investment in the region’s future. Some of our other activities with local kids include painting wildlife murals, leading nature hikes, planting trees, and hosting interactive camps and workshops. These hands-on activities connect this generation with nature and promote a love for wildlife and the outdoors.

Top to bottom: Junior jaguar guardians set up and test motion-triggered cameras, then return to collect and review the images

Un-Fragmenting / Des-Fragmentando

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

The northern jaguar travels from a breeding population in Sonora to re-establish territory in the American Southwest. The journey, however, is an imperiled one. The jaguar’s historic travel corridor is fragmented by human activity, border wall expansion, and anti-predator policies.

Un-Fragmenting / Des-Fragmentando: reuniting culture and ecology in the borderlands transforms the U.S.-Mexico border wall from barrier to backdrop, projecting jaguar and other wildlife images from the Northern Jaguar Reserve and neighboring Viviendo con Felinos ranches directly onto the rusted iron construct.

Through binational cultural engagement, community education, and digital projection, ecological artist Lauren Strohacker and collaborators envision removing barriers to ensure the survival of a wide diversity of species, including the iconic jaguar.

On May 12, residents of Douglas, Arizona, and Agua Prieta, Sonora, gathered while larger-than-life images of native wildlife, including male and female jaguars, appeared on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. The projections showed how animals in this region are negatively impacted by the current border wall and proposed expansions. The wall interrupts a crucial migration corridor and destroys habitat with a physical barrier, roads, and high-powered lighting, endangering these species and their fragile ecosystem.

The mayors of Douglas and Agua Prieta shook hands through the border wall before they spoke. Each expressed a passionate and collaborative vision for the future where borders are not physical barriers but celebrated spaces that protect humans, wildlife, and their shared environment.

Lauren Strohacker delivered the final speech of the evening, explaining her inspiration and vision for Un-Fragmenting / Des-Fragmentando to broaden the conversation about the border wall and connect culture and ecology through creative, community-based projects.

She ended with a question for the audience to ponder: “How will we remember tonight? Will we look back on this event as the last stand of the northern jaguar or as the beginning of the greatest ecological comeback story of our lifetime?”

During Un-Fragmenting / Des-Fragmentando, we saw many reasons to hope that the future is one of cultural and ecological awareness, appreciation, and protection. These projections will be shown in communities along the length of the border in an ongoing effort to raise awareness and inspire action in the borderlands and beyond.

View the New York Times video of the event, “A Border Fence Blurred Through Art.”

Un-Fragmenting / Des-Fragmentando is in collaboration with the Northern Jaguar Project, Border Arts Corridor, Casa de la Cultura, Conciencia y Educación Ambiental, and with support of the U.S. Border Patrol, city of Douglas, Arizona, and city of Agua Prieta, Sonora.

Photos by Kendra Sollars

Vaquero Photo Blog – Spring 2017

Monday, May 15th, 2017

Field assistant, vaquero, and jaguar guardian Laqui Duarte has many talents and fills many roles on the Northern Jaguar Reserve and Viviendo con Felinos ranches. Here, he provides some of the sights he sees and wildlife encountered to give you a glimpse of life in the field.

 

I like this photo because it represents at least one part of the beauty found on the Northern Jaguar Reserve. This is the Arroyo Babisal, and I usually walk around here looking for small animals.

 

Camaleón, regal horned lizard (Phrynosoma solare): When I see this lizard, I think of dinosaurs. It seems like they have not changed a lot over the years. These lizards are well adapted to this dry environment. If you look carefully, you will see it is changing its skin.

 

I found this beetle at Babisal de Abajo. I like beetles because they are so strong considering their size. Their exoskeleton is very hard!

 

Culebra de collar, ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus): This is a rare snake, and it is difficult to see in the field. I have only seen one a couple of times. Part of the difficulty is because its color is very similar to the color of the ground.

 

Culebra chirrionera; coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum): I was working on the Bábaco ranch and got a little scared when I saw this snake, but after a few seconds I started taking pictures of it.

 

Coyote tracks are commonly seen on the reserve, especially if you are hiking to check the motion-triggered cameras. Do you also see the mouse tracks in this photo? Those are not so common.

 

Insecto palo, stick insect: One day I was riding a horse to check a camera on the reserve. While riding, I came in contact with many plants and that’s when I saw this insect in the horse’s reins. I stopped and left the insect where it would be safe.

 

Zopilote aura, vulture turkey (Cathartes aura): I was in the field working with a camera trap on one of the Viviendo con Felinos ranches when I saw this bird directly in front of me.

 

Palma real (Sabal uresana): When I saw the height of this palm tree, it was a surprise… It is so tall!

Día de la Madre Jaguar

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

May 10th is Mother’s Day in Mexico, and what better time to recognize the female jaguars and cubs found on the Northern Jaguar Reserve. We are celebrating conservation efforts south of the border where the Northern Jaguar Project protects a breeding jaguar population.

Día de la Madre Jaguar Celebration

Wednesday, May 10th

6:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Mission Garden, 946 W Mission Ln, Tucson, AZ

  • Silent auction of jaguar artwork and handicrafts.
  • Music for the full moon by Tradiciones Taller.
  • Preview of larger-than-life jaguar photos to be projected onto the U.S.-Mexico border wall as part of Un-Fragmenting: An evening of wildlife illuminations.
  • Tastings of traditional regional fare and bebidas.
  • Door prizes of heritage trees from Mission Garden.

We have assembled a beautiful collection of jaguar art and handicrafts that we are excited to share with you: masks, carvings, paintings, pottery, textiles, and works featured from throughout the jaguar’s range. We hope you will be inspired to bid and show your support for jaguar conservation in Sonora.

We look forward to seeing you as we celebrate the female jaguars of the borderlands.

A Letter from Our Guardian

Saturday, December 10th, 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.

Jaguar Guardian and Reserve Biologist

 

 

Jaguar Guardian Blog – May 2016

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

Chiltepin blog

Dear Friends,

This month, Roberto Garcia, the grandson of our resident vaquero Laco, joined me at the Northern Jaguar Reserve and helped with the motion-triggered cameras. We immediately noticed the scarcity of water on the reserve and surrounding ranches. Minimal rain has negatively affected vegetation growth on the ranches, which has led to weakened cattle and increased livestock deaths. Even though there are water holes where cattle can drink, I have observed that soon even those could be dry. When we arrived at La Ventana, we met Braulio and the workers who have been repairing fences at Babisal. This is an ongoing task for our cowboys, since cattle will regularly break fences to enter the reserve.

The hotter temperatures of the summer season have begun, and the heat is intense. There have been days where it has already reached 40 degrees Celsius (104° Fahrenheit). This limits the times when we can hike to check cameras. From late morning to mid-afternoon, the heat is very strong, and there is danger of dehydration and heat stroke. We start our work by 6:00 a.m. when the sun isn’t as bright, then we spend the hottest part of the day in the shade. Usually we go out again in the late afternoon until dark, when the temperature is not as extreme. Thankfully we now have a water tank at Los Pavos, so the problem of having enough water while we are on this part of the reserve has been solved – we can drink, wash dishes, and take a bath.

This time of year, the elegant trogon has begun its call to look for a mate. To observe this bird, you have to be quiet and walk softly. That is how I have been able to see many of them. If they hear you approaching, they will fly away and perch on a branch in the distance. Another larger-sized bird we heard on this trip was the wild turkey, or huijalo, as they are called in Sahuaripa. Even though we could not see them, we were able to hear them by a stream at La Ventana early one morning.

We had a new jaguar photographed on the reserve this month, which made us very happy. We named him “Chiltepin,” which was a name suggested by one of our NJP supporters. We also saw the jaguar “Elvis” again. He was first seen in September 2013, next in December 2015, and most recently at Las Cuevas in April. We also had a photo of the female jaguar “Suki” at Los Alisos. Suki was also seen at Las Cuevas in March.

As Roberto and I hiked to our camera site at Las Tésotas, we were talking about how incredible it would be to see a puma or jaguar hunting. Just then, we saw a group of turkey vultures perched on some mesquites. We thought there was probably a dead animal nearby and began to search. We were surprised to find the remains of a young white-tailed deer who had been killed by a jaguar. It had part of its skull destroyed, and its shoulder and internal organs had been devoured. We noticed that the body was still soft, fresh, and did not have a bad odor. Perhaps the predator had been eating it, heard us, and ran away when we came close. Even though we looked for feline sign, the leaves on the ground and the rocky terrain prevented us from seeing anything. It distinctly felt like a jaguar was observing us while we were checking his prey.

Maria Luisa blogOn the Viviendo con Felinos ranches, we had the opportunity to speak with Isaac Ezrré, the son of Las Cuevas’ owner, and Ricardo Vásquez, who is the vaquero at Las Cuevas. They told us that they had lost a calf due to an attack by a puma or jaguar a few days before. The calf had claw marks on its head and body, and it was not possible to save the calf, even after giving antibiotics, since the wounds were infected. We try to help ranchers who have losses like Isaac, supporting them with information regarding what to do in case of attacks on their cattle, how to prevent this, and how to cover this with predation insurance.

While checking cameras on the different ranches, we often meet up with friends, such as Don René from Las Sabanillas or Doña Maria Luisa from El Sapo. They are very grateful for the feline photo awards they receive. As you may remember, Maria Luisa’s husband passed away last year, and the money she receives for feline presence has been really helpful ever since. The Viviendo con Felinos project has been changing the viewpoint of the participating ranchers. They are realizing that felines can live on their ranches without hurting cattle and have seen positive results when they avoid hunting the cats’ natural prey. We hope that our rancher friends are able to help us spread this message.

Until next time,

–Javier

Javier Valenzuela Amarillas has worked on the Northern Jaguar Reserve and Viviendo con Felinos ranches since 2012. As a jaguar guardian, he maintains an extensive network of motion-triggered cameras, inventories the ecological health of the land and water, and works with ranchers to support local wildlife.

Top photo: Chiltepin; bottom: Maria Luisa with new guide on livestock depredation

Jaguar Guardian Blog – April 2016

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dear Friends,

We have enjoyed another month of adventure on the Northern Jaguar Reserve. We traveled with Laqui, one of the reserve’s vaqueros, and Obed, a volunteer from Hermosillo. It is always a pleasure when we first arrive and meet up with Dona Lupe, Laco’s wife. She has a kind and calm demeanor, and her cooking is a delight for everyone who has tasted her dishes. Even though she doesn’t work for the project, she is part of our team, and we appreciate and love her for it.

We have noticed that some of the prickly pear (Opuntia) and pitahaya (Stenocereus thurberi) are starting to bear their delicious fruit. However, we have to wait until June or July to eat these gifts from nature. Meanwhile, bees, or “flies” as they are called in Sahuaripa, are constantly producing a delicious honey during this spring season. We often see honeycombs on the rock formations along the arroyos.

Los Pavos is one of the areas on the reserve where one feels an enormous amount of peace and tranquility. Its mountains and vegetation provide an excellent landscape to watch the sunset, and the nighttime silence creates the best atmosphere to get some good sleep after a long day of work. It is always possible to see wildlife at Los Pavos, especial birds in the mesquite trees close to our camp. It was strange that we did not see any sign of deer there this month.

We usually need to clear brush from the routes we hike to reach the motion-triggered camera locations. This month, we noticed the vegetation was very dry, and there were many branches in our way as we walked. We can tell that the vegetation is waiting for the rainy season. Despite a little rain almost every month last year, overall it was not a good year for rain. Many pools on the reserve and surrounding ranches are dry or only have a small quantity of water. There are other sources of water for cattle on the surrounding ranches, like tanks and wells, but the ranchers are worried that they will face a substantial loss of cattle, which happened in 2013.

Suki Cuevas blogThere are always more ranchers interested in working with us to protect flora and fauna. A few months ago, we talked with José Robles, owner of El Cajón de los Lobos, and invited him to join Viviendo con Felinos. He accepted our invitation, and we have now set up cameras on his ranch. His property seems like an excellent place for felines and other wildlife. This month, we had jaguar photos on two of the Viviendo con Felinos ranches, including one that borders El Cajón de los Lobos. The jaguar was the female “Suki” – we were happy to see her again.

Until next time,

–Javier

Javier Valenzuela Amarillas has worked on the Northern Jaguar Reserve and Viviendo con Felinos ranches since 2012. As a jaguar guardian, he maintains an extensive network of motion-triggered cameras, inventories the ecological health of the land and water, and works with ranchers to support local wildlife.

Top photo: Lupe Duarte, photo by Marie Long; bottom: Suki at Las Cuevas

Jaguar Guardian Blog – March 2016

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

march 16 blog 1

Dear Friends,

Hello from the Northern Jaguar Reserve. This month, I was joined by Esteban, Laco’s grandson, on our rounds to check the motion-triggered cameras. We were grateful to see the vaqueros constructing a new palapa at Los Pavos, since it will help to keep us cool in the summer when the temperature reaches 45° Celsius. Esteban and I spent two days at Los Pavos, where some of the plants were beginning to bloom and there were new shoots. We saw butterflies and bees looking for flowers on these plants. Fortunately, we had rain this month, and the arroyos that had been dry are now running again. The natural pools that we find in some parts of the reserve are also full. This will be a great boost for wildlife.

I noticed that birds were beginning to sing near the Arroyo Dubaral. I heard cardinals, northern mockingbirds, and blue-gray gnatcatchers. We frequently see gray hawks and American kestrels, and I hope to see a Peregrine falcon soon. These raptors like to make their nests on the rock formations at La Ventana, which makes sense because they like cliffs or steep areas that are difficult to reach.

One of the most incredible places to visit on the reserve is the Arroyo Babisal, with its crystal clear water and small fish found throughout the year. A few hundred meters up from there is a site known as Mesa del Baile; we appreciate this rare flat area. The reserve’s landscape is generally steep and rugged, and traveling through it can be very tiring. Little by little, we are finding new places that we enjoy a great deal. Both La Ventana and Babisal have many locations with perennial water, thus we see a lot of wildlife during the dry months – including common black-hawks, elegant trogons, lowland leopard frogs, white-tailed deer, javelina, and coatis. If we are lucky, we can see almost all of these in a one-month period.

On the Viviendo con Felinos ranches, we observed 14 deer at Las Cuevas near the reserve’s entrance. They were not all together but resting in small groups in the shade of the mesquite trees. At El Sapo, we heard a pack of coyotes howling nearby. They continued for a few minutes and then stopped.

march 16 blog 2While we were at Los Alisos, Esteban received news that one of Laco’s sisters had suffered a heart attack. We quickly finished checking cameras in order to return to La Ventana to let Laco know. After that, we returned to finish our journey and check cameras on the other ranches. When we went to Agua Fría, we saw that they were fixing the path in order to reach a site known as el Último Bajío. The rancher told us where there is a water hole nearby, and that we would surely see jaguar photos there.

Until next time,

–Javier

Javier Valenzuela Amarillas has worked on the Northern Jaguar Reserve and Viviendo con Felinos ranches since 2012. As a jaguar guardian, he maintains an extensive network of motion-triggered cameras, inventories the ecological health of the land and water, and works with ranchers to support local wildlife.

Jaguar Guardian Blog – February 2016

Monday, March 14th, 2016

feb 16 blog 1

Dear Friends,

After two months away from the Northern Jaguar Reserve, I returned again in the company of Carmina and Miguel, our friends and former jaguar guardians. At the outset, we had problems with the truck losing power while going uphill. We continued in spite of these mechanical failures, but later decided it was better to return to Sahuaripa because it seemed serious. This would be the final excursion for that truck. The next day, we set out in the truck used by the cowboys and workers, nicknamed “La Perrona” by our vaquero Braulio. He gave it this name because it is a good truck for the field. In Sonora, we often say that something is “perron” or “perrona” when it is in excellent condition, or when it is attractive (which this truck is not). The roads were in bad shape, and La Perrona’s tight suspension made it jump a great deal when we went over rocks or holes in the road.

We first traveled to the Viviendo con Felinos ranches surrounding the reserve; on our first day, we visited Agua Fría. We almost always assign paired work teams to check the cameras. Unfortunately, on this trip, I could not help my friends very much because I was diagnosed with a hernia and the doctor suggested I avoid straining myself while in the field. I tried to avoid long hikes, although sometimes it was necessary in order to finish our work.

feb 16 blog 3We almost always see white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) when we approach the ranch house at Los Alisos, and this time we saw three that began to run when they noticed us. The rancher, Ramón Vásquez, often tells us about pumas or jaguars attacking cattle or other prey. This time, Ramón told us about two head of cattle that he had lost; yet he did not know the cause of death. Each month, ranchers will ask us questions or share concerns about cattle loss, and we know that some of these are jaguar and puma kills. The ranchers and their vaqueros also share good stories and humor that is contagious. Nothing is more enjoyable than having a conversation with people whose life and experiences come from working in the field.

Another place that we always see deer is at the entrance to the reserve at La Ventana in a place known as Punta de Agua. We usually see deer here throughout the year, but especially during the dry season (which is more or less January-June). We saw many deer there this month, and we expect to see more in the months to come.

feb 16 blog 4We spent time with Carmina and Miguel learning how to improve our motion-triggered camera placement and design. They gave excellent advice, and together we made changes to some of the camera positions on the reserve. On our hikes to the camera sites, we were able to see wildlife, and on one occasion I saw a coati walking toward a hill 120 meters away. It seemed like he was looking for food, as he was checking one area for a while and then left. On returning from Los Pavos, we met up with Randy, Turtle, and a group of our supporters visiting the reserve. We were able to go to the Río Aros together, relaxing and enjoying ourselves for a while.

Until next time,

–Javier

Javier Valenzuela Amarillas has worked on the Northern Jaguar Reserve and Viviendo con Felinos ranches since 2012. As a jaguar guardian, he maintains an extensive network of motion-triggered cameras, inventories the ecological health of the land and water, and works with ranchers to support local wildlife.

Photos by Miguel Gómez