September 14, 2012
This trip to the Northern Jaguar Reserve was the first for my field helper Erick. We began the journey around the reserve, and while we were traveling, there were many road obstacles, biting insects, new places, and arroyos full with water. At this time of year, the landscape is unrecognizable even though I have been to the same sites many times and traveled down the same paths. The first stop was Babisal, where the road briefly travels along an arroyo and becomes impassable during heavy rains. The road was also difficult just before reaching Babisal where another arroyo carried a lot of water; we managed to cross it after great effort. Rick later arrived with the new tractor to repair the road in order to go on.
While at Babisal, I went to one of the most impressive sites on the reserve, known as La Hielería. The scenery is beautiful with a small waterfall and shade from trees on the banks of the arroyo. Another place that I had not seen before is the Mesa del Baile, which is reachable by walking up a steep hill. If the climb is in the early afternoon, I think you will feel as if you arrived at the top of Mt. Everest. Arriving where we have cameras is truly worth the trip because it is very beautiful, rocky, and this time of year, there is water running in the arroyo.
When we followed the road to Los Pavos, we came across an area damaged by rains, so decided to only go to Dubaral. While we were there enjoying the water in the arroyo, we were surprised by a very strong rainstorm. Not only did we get wet, but our tent was blown away by the force of the wind. That was the first day we spent in Dubaral this summer with cooler temperatures. The next day on our way back to Babisal, we were unable to go on because a tree had fallen in the middle of the road. Laco was available to cut the tree with his chainsaw, and we continued on our way. The same thing happened at Las Tésotas, but luckily we did not have to cut the tree in order to reach our cameras. After that, the weather was perfect for checking cameras.
The roads toward the Viviendo con Felinos ranches were not as damaged as I had thought they would be. The longest road is the one that goes toward Los Alisos, and there were only small rocks and holes that we moved and patched up as we went. There were a lot of mosquitos as well as chiggers. Erick was the most affected with bites (I won’t include the photos, as they are scary), but he recovered quickly and was welcomed as the new blood on the team.
I hope that in the next month, we will be able to get to Los Pavos and check the cameras to see if there are photos of the bear.
Until next time,
Daniela Gutiérrez has worked on the Northern Jaguar Reserve and Viviendo con Felinos ranches since March 2011. As a jaguar guardian, she maintains an extensive network of motion-triggered cameras on the reserve and ranches, inventories the ecological health of the land and water, and patrols the area to keep out poachers.