September 19, 2015
It seemed like our truck was in good condition, so we left for the Northern Jaguar Reserve with confidence. Yet even before reaching Sahuaripa, the truck began to lose power, made a few jerking motions, and then returned to normal. This continued to happen and give us difficulty throughout most of the trip. We also had to stop several times for the transmission to cool down. We arrived safe and sound, but still are going to need to begin our search for a new truck since this one seems to be near the end of its lifespan.
On our journey to the reserve, we met up with the reserve’s vaquero Laco on the road; he was on horseback and returning from his day’s work. We talked with him for a little while and then continued on our way. We soon saw three deer crossing the road. Two of them were running away from us, but one stayed still and looked at us for a few seconds. The deer did not seem to pay us much attention before moving toward some shrubs.
Once we reached the reserve, we noticed that there had not been much rain in some areas, since some of the vegetation had yellowed. Laco told us that the rains have not been very good this year even though August is one of the months when we usually have the most precipitation. In fact, the well at La Ventana that provides drinking water is still dry. The rainy season began early but has not been strong enough for water to run in the arroyo near the La Ventana house. This is the water that filters and replenishes the well. We went in search of water at a place called “Punta de Agua” near the reserve’s entrance. There is a spring here that we will utilize to fill our new water cistern and insure access to drinking water in the coming months.
Even with what seems to be less rain, the reserve’s vegetation has changed. Many plants that were growing have had their fruits reach maturity. Some, like the hackberry (Celtis pallida), have fruits that are small, orange, and sweet tasting. The two palm species we have on the reserve also have dates right now. They are Babiso (Brahea brandegeei) and palma real (Sabal uresana). Only the palma real produces edible fruit. The other is too hard and does not have a good flavor. Along with these plants, there are many more that can be eaten, like the yucca flower and its fruits, as well as the seeds from the bird of paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima).
As I have said before, it is always possible to see deer on the reserve, but they are most often seen at La Ventana. We had not spotted coyotes for quite some time until this month. While we were driving toward El Sapo to check cameras, a small coyote jumped out of the brush and moved toward the road. He continued his journey on the road for some time before changing direction back into the bushes. Although it is harder to observe some species, like a mountain lion or jaguar, we were happy because we had not seen a coyote for a long time.
Until next time,
Javier Valenzuela Amarillas has worked on the Northern Jaguar Reserve and Viviendo con Felinos ranches since 2012. As a jaguar guardian, he helps maintain an extensive network of motion-triggered cameras, inventory the ecological health of the land and water, and work with ranchers to support local wildlife.