March 22, 2013
On this month’s trip, Daniela and I were really pleased to be accompanied by two of our NJP supporters, Eric and Caroline, on some of our camera inspections. We began the trip together with an afternoon spent at Rancho Bábaco, one of the Viviendo con Felinos ranches where we visited a spring near the house that is a good place to view wildlife. We later were joined by representatives from the Carlos Slim Foundation and WWF.
Our fieldwork on the reserve began at La Ventana. We led Caroline, Juan Carlos, and Turtle as we checked the motion-triggered cameras along the Arroyo La Ventana. This is a very beautiful stream filled with clear water, tiny fish, and abundant vegetation.
Next we continued on to Babisal, and en route, we were able to see a wild turkey and a white-tailed deer near a place known as Huijalo. At El Carricito, representatives from the Carlos Slim Foundation and WWF accompanied us to learn about our work and how the cameras are important in monitoring jaguars. They were also able to observe some of the hard work it takes to build gabions, as Laqui led our volunteer Stéphane and a small crew in building these permeable rock dams to help prevent erosion and restore the water table. Next up was a hike along the Arroyo El Burro at Dubaral, where we enjoyed seeing photos of two female jaguars, “Suki” and “Caza.”
At Los Pavos, we divided up into two teams to reach more camera locations. Laco and I went to the Arroyo Los Pavos and saw mountain lion tracks as well as a white-tailed deer who ran after Loco (Laco’s dog). We watched as the deer came right onto our path, yet after noticing our presence, it quickly ran the other way. That same day, Daniela and Eric went up the Cerro de Las Velas, and during their trip, they were lucky enough to see an elegant trogon – a bird with such vibrant colors that make it one of the most beautiful species on the reserve in my opinion. This sighting really made Eric happy, as he has a special interest in observing birds. Eric accompanied me on another long walk, and we saw more mountain lion tracks as we looked for new camera locations.
As we explored La Hielería and the Arroyo El Babisal, I realized yet again how beautiful the reserve is. We could see lots of willows, we climbed around near waterfalls, and saw pools of water that are so deep you cannot see the bottom. We saw lowland leopard frogs, many tadpoles, and several species of birds, including canyon wren and painted redstart. We were all impressed by the richness of species on the reserve and the importance of protecting all of the natural wealth found here.
Javier Valenzuela Amarillas has worked on the Northern Jaguar Reserve and Viviendo con Felinos ranches since 2012. As a jaguar guardian, he helps to maintain an extensive network of motion-triggered cameras on the reserve and ranches, inventory the ecological health of the land and water, and patrol the area to keep out poachers.