February 12, 2015
This month, I teamed up on the Northern Jaguar Reserve with my companions Saúl and Laqui. As usual, we began by checking the motion-triggered cameras at Los Pavos. En route, we were able to observe a herd of javelina running a few meters in front of our truck. One of them stopped very quickly, and he watched us for a few seconds before running away with the other members of the pack. It is amazing to watch the way ungulates defend themselves and the organization they use when they sense that they are in danger. One member of the herd stands up to the perceived threat while the others are able to get away.
After finishing our work at Los Pavos, we went on to Dubaral. Grasses and shrubs have been growing since the rainy season and are gradually obscuring the routes to our camera locations, so we needed to spend a little time clearing paths and trails. Although we did not finish cutting the vegetation that blocked the paths, we accomplished quite a bit. There shouldn’t be as many vines or thorny shrubs hindering our progress in the coming months, since we’re entering the dry season.
We usually have wildlife sightings when we enter the reserve, and just when we arrived at the entrance, we saw a female white-tailed deer who ran away after drinking water at a place called “punta de agua.” Then, while we were headed toward the La Ventana house, we saw a male deer running along the road. During the dry season, it is common to see deer in these locations because there is perennial water. We hope to see wild turkeys and coyotes here soon.
Something that really surprised me was seeing a ring-tailed cat (Bassariscus astutus) in a palm tree at Las Tésotas. While I was getting ready to go to sleep, around 8 p.m., I noticed a small animal climbing the leaves of the tree. Laqui, Saúl, and I went to investigate, and we observed a ring-tailed cat eating the dates from the palm. We watched him for a few minutes and then left so that he could continue eating. The date clusters are big and abundant, and the ring-tailed will undoubtedly have at least a month more of food here.
During our stay on the Viviendo con Felinos ranches, there were not a lot of important sightings. The most interesting was at the entrance of Agua Fría. This is a newly enrolled ranch in the Viviendo project, and it appears to be favorable for obtaining feline photographs. During our trip to a site called “el último bajío,” we saw scat that could have been from a jaguar due to the size. Hopefully the coming months will bring excellent camera results at Agua Fría.
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.