October 21, 2008
It’s Eric again with more news from the Northern Jaguar Reserve. Well, what can I say, this time was worse than the last time: We couldn’t change all the cameras; the road that was washed away lost more dirt; and we had an accident with the truck. We fell three meters (10 feet) into a little creek. Fortunately, nobody was injured, but we think the truck can’t be repaired. It’s at the shop at the moment. It’s very bad because we don’t have a vehicle to go to the reserve, we will have to ask for someone to take us to the reserve and back, and we will have to spend money we hadn’t planned for to buy another truck.
Everything was done very quickly this time since there were two of us – Naturalia has hired another person that is going to be in charge of the Feline Photo Project. It is really good because now I will have more time to be in the reserve and tracking jaguars. The new field technician’s name is Claudia Moreno, and she has a lot of field experience. Claudia worked in northern Sonora and Chihuahua tracking black bears, helping trap and collar them, and setting cameras. She is going to make a really good worker, and she is very kind, so people are going to accept her immediately. Despite the fact that the visit to Sahuaripa was short, she met a lot of the ranchers in the project.
This time we took a different route to change the cameras, but we had to spend another three days on horse. It was tough, and for some reason I felt it more this time than the last one. The wife of Laco, the vaquero/guard at the reserve told me that I proved to be good in horse riding, but after this time, I doubt it a little. The roads got a little bit worse because we are getting some unusual rains. The road that was washed away now has bigger potholes. Luckily, the machine that fixes these ranch roads is in the vicinity, and we are arranging for it to fix our road as soon as possible. It has gotten very expensive. Two years ago, the state government put a certain amount to subsidize part of the expenses to maintain the road, but that doesn’t apply anymore. The vaquero told me that they used to ask for compensation for 100 hours of machine rental, so I don’t want to know how much it will cost to fix everything now. And with the truck incident, I just can’t imagine the final amount. I hope we don’t have to cancel any activities at the reserve.
As for the cameras, we got lucky. One of the ranchers got two puma pictures, and one of them looks really awesome – it is just laying in front the camera. And hey! It’s $200 bucks for the rancher. As for the pictures from the reserve, we got just bobcats and pumas. The jaguars are hiding really well. I hope we can get some for the next month. I also hope we can get a new truck, or fix the one we have, in time for next month’s camera-setting period.
– Eric Ramírez Bravo
Eric has been a Jaguar Guardian at the Northern Jaguar Reserve since Spring 2008 and recently began a Ph.D. program in Biodiversity Management at the University of Kent.