Jaguar Guardian Blog – January 2010

February 25, 2010

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! We are very happy because we have the opportunity once again to tell you about the good results from the efforts that we are undertaking to preserve the jaguar in this region of North America. Like each month, we had a lot of work and, of course, many adventures on the Northern Jaguar Reserve.

We finished 2009 in a good way, and we started the new year even better! After nearly three months without a picture of a jaguar, this time we got five photos of jaguars on the Northern Jaguar Reserve. The Feline Photo Project obtained three more jaguar photos on the neighboring ranches.

Our most famous jaguar, the male nicknamed “Perrito,” was photographed once again at the boundary where Los Pavos and Dubaral meet. He has been seen several times in this area. On the night of December 6, a motion-triggered camera that we installed just six hours earlier took a photograph of Perrito! Almost a month later, he was photographed on two consecutive days: first at Dubaral toward the northern end of the reserve; the next day at Rancho El Carricito, the neighboring ranch owned by our friend Dolores “La Lola” Lopez. This was good news for La Lola because she lost her burros to predation last year and will now be rewarded for the jaguar picture.

In the middle of December, the female jaguar named “Cholla” was photographed twice at Dubaral. Cholla was seen again by our cameras in late December at El Carricito, which means more rewards for La Lola! (Cholla is the jaguar recorded last year dragging a javelina she killed.) In the recent photos, you can see that she has a big tummy. Is Cholla pregnant right now? If so, maybe she is pregnant by Perrito.

Does Perrito leave his territory neglected while he is out courting Cholla? Because another adult male jaguar named “Mayo,” photographed at Los Pavos on December 27, is an individual that has not been seen before. Finally, another jaguar was photographed at the Los Alisos ranch, a neighboring ranch owned by Ricardo Vázquez. This was “Cecilio,” the same jaguar photographed here in February 2009. Is Cecilio looking for a female too?

We are expecting to see Cholla’s kittens, and you? If you pay attention to the pictures of Perrito and Mayo, you will see that they are marking their territories. They are looking for females, and we all know that Cholla, Corazón, and Yuri are around. So at any moment if we have a little bit of luck, we will see pictures of cubs.

Thanks to your support, we have installed more and more cameras in remote and inaccessible sites on the reserve according to our web array design. We are expecting to capture on film these little speckled cats, the hope of the northern jaguar population. But, if you want to know more of what is happening with the jaguars at the reserve, you will have to wait until our next blog.

In other news, Alicia Decina of Wild Horizons Ltd. visited us for a week early this year. (Our friend and NJP board member Rick Williams was also with us.) Alicia and her team will film the jaguars in the wild at the reserve this spring, and we showed her several potential sites for filming. We wish the people of Wild Horizons luck, and both the jaguars and us will be awaiting their visit.

In the early days of January, we were at the reserve with David Yetman and his team from the Arizona Public Media television program “The Desert Speaks.” It was a pleasure for us to show them a little bit of the reserve, as well as the wildlife conservation work that we do. Most importantly, through David’s program, we can share with others the good fortune that few people have – the opportunity of walking on the trail of the northern jaguar.

We have not finished with our visitors, and another friend came to the reserve this month. Stephen “Chip” Ratley first came to the reserve last year to conduct a water quality analysis. This time, he trained us in these techniques so that now we are capable to do the monthly water quality monitoring at the reserve and some places nearby that are important for overall ecosystem welfare. However, we need your support to buy some reagents and cell glasses for the spectrophotometer that we use for water analysis. So far, the test results of water quality have been good; according to Chip, most of the water from the reserve has little or no pollution.

Talking about water… Wow! We were very surprised by the amount of rainfall that accompanied winter storms. Some parts of the dirt roads that lead to the reserve, and the main road of the reserve, were affected by rock landslides and soil erosion caused by rainfall. The main reserve road was repaired just a few weeks ago by a rented bulldozer. Now, the trail is pretty much as usual. We believe that some preventive work, such as drainage systems and barriers to prevent erosion, are necessary to maintain the road.

One time we drove from La Ventana to Babisal, and we suddenly found a huge rock on one side of the road – a rock that possibly weighed half a ton or maybe more. On the other side was a cliff. When we got out of the car, we saw the rock up close and first thought, “What the heck?! This is the end of the road for today!” But our desire to move forward filled us with determination and strength, and we got the tools (a metal bar and a hammer). We had to break up the rock for a couple of hours. It was madness! Finally, we removed several pieces from one side of the rock, and the vehicle just fit past. That night, we went to bed very exhausted.

Another day, we returned from the reserve to the town of Sahuaripa in the evening. We were almost home when our fears came true: The Sahuaripa River was swollen due to the rains, and there was no passage. We were about one mile from town, and we couldn’t cross the river! We spent the night hoping that the river’s water level would go down by the morning. Luckily we brought our sleeping bags because it was very cold! Finally, the next day we reached Sahuaripa, and now we are here, telling you about our adventures.

Best regards,

– Carmina & Miguel

Our jaguar guardians, Carmina Gutiérrez and Miguel Gómez Ramírez, have worked at the Northern Jaguar Reserve since October 2008. As the reserve’s resident biologists, Carmina and Miguel patrol lands to keep out poachers, sustain ongoing management of the reserve, maintain a network of motion-triggered cameras, and inventory the ecological health of reserve lands and waters.

Top photo: Cholla at Dubaral; next two: Perrito at Dubaral plus January guests with the guardians; bottom two: the reserve road and driving into town