Jaguar Guardian Blog – July 2010

August 18, 2010

Dear Friends,

This month we’re going to talk a bit about another part of our job as guardians of the Northern Jaguar Reserve: office work. In addition to our surveillance and environmental monitoring at the reserve, we spend several days every month archiving and reviewing the data we get from our field trips, as well as the photos taken by the camera traps.

High temperatures and heavy rains at the reserve in the summer months make it difficult and sometimes dangerous to work in this area. During part of July and August, instead of being in the field, we dedicated ourselves to organizing and analyzing our informational databases. These contain thousands of photos of wildlife that have been captured by camera traps at the reserve this year.

One part of the analysis we did this month was to continue work on the photo identification of individual jaguars and ocelots. So far this year, we have had seven different jaguars and 13 ocelots photographed at the reserve. According to statistical analysis, we expect a density of one jaguar and two ocelots for each 100 square kilometers. These are important results as we demonstrate the importance of preserving as much land as possible, since jaguars and ocelots require large areas for survival. For jaguars, the result is similar to last year. In the case of ocelots, we don’t have previous years’ data for comparison.

Let’s talk about the three most photographed ocelots at the reserve and on the neighboring ranches: Linea, Susto, and Fenes. The ocelot “Linea” is a female and was photographed for the first time in February 2009; she inhabits the northern part of the reserve at Los Pavos and Dubaral. Thanks to the camera traps, we know that Linea is the mother of an ocelot called “Pepito” – both mother and cub have been photographed together several times. The name Linea comes from a line on the side of her body, and Pepito is diminutive of the Spanish name José. The male ocelot “Susto” (which means scare or fright) is also an inhabitant of the northern part of reserve. He has been photographed since May 2009. As with the jaguars, we can now start to imagine the relationship between Linea and Susto. Both ocelots were photographed at the same camera station several times during April and May. “Fenes” (this name comes from a river in Romania) is a female ocelot that lives on the reserve at La Ventana and on part of the neighboring ranch Las Tesotas, but she was also photographed at Los Pavos. All three of these ocelots have been photographed on both sides. Other ocelots are only identified by one side view, and we will talk about them once we know more.

A great piece of news is that because the total number of active cameras in the field continues to grow each month, we have more and more pictures of different species. Some of these photos document very important species for conservation – such as the badger (Taxidea taxus), an endangered species that is rare to obtain a picture of, and two species of birds, Montezuma quail (Cyrtonyx montezuma) and northern turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), both of which are under special protection. It is very exciting to get so many images of all sorts of wildlife each month.

We have been preparing scientific works that we will present at the 10th Mexican Mammalogy Congress and the first Latin American Mammalogy Congress in September. Our topics include: “Comparison of the community of medium and large mammals based on the presence of cattle,” “Permanence and population density of jaguars at the Northern Jaguar Reserve, Sahuaripa, Sonora period 1999-2010,” and “Activity, abundance, and success camera trapping the badger (Taxidea taxus) in the Sierra of Sahuaripa, Sonora.” All of these new scientific studies have been possible through the biological monitoring that we do (and which previous guardians contributed to) at the Northern Jaguar Reserve – and of course, thanks to the continuous support of all of our donors.

Well, that is all for now; it is time for us to head back to the reserve. We expect and hope that the rains won’t keep us from our field work and that next month we will be telling you about our new adventures at the reserve.

Best regards,

– Miguel & Carmina

Our jaguar guardians, Miguel Gómez Ramírez and Carmina Gutiérrez, have worked at the Northern Jaguar Reserve since October 2008. As the reserve’s resident biologists, Miguel and Carmina 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.