July 21, 2015
Our time at the Northern Jaguar Reserve is always interesting, but this month something happened that caused a lot of worry. While we were at the Naturalia office in Hermosillo, we received a call from one of our neighboring ranchers that there was a wildfire on the reserve. Based on his description, our impression was that the fire was on the border of Bábaco and La Ventana.
We left Hermosillo with plans to contact the Sahuaripa fire brigade. At first, it was hard to find them and after making many calls, we contacted the person in charge of the brigade. We agreed to go to the reserve the following day at 5:00 a.m. Fortunately, that night there was a lot of rain in Sahuaripa and also at the reserve. Our reserve manager Randy headed out with the brigade in the morning, intending to fight the fire since we were not sure the rain had put it out. Saúl and I left later, as we had to buy supplies for the firefighting crew, and the stores were not open that early.
As we were on our way to the reserve, we met up with Randy and the fire brigade coming back out. They told us that the rain had extinguished the fire, and they only needed to put out some embers. There did not appear to be any danger. We have had luck with wildfires so far because one other time, in 2013 and again thanks to rain, we did not need to call in the fire brigade.
We spent the first couple days of our trip at La Ventana and checking motion-triggered cameras on the Viviendo con Felinos ranches. We started there so Saúl could go with our vaquero Laco to measure the fire’s perimeter and determine the size of the area that burned. Even though some oak trees had burned, the damage was not severe. They estimated it covered approximately 200 acres.
We continued to Babisal where we checked cameras at La Hielería and Las Tinajas. We noticed that there were many gray hawks (Buteo nitidus) in these areas. During the rainy season, it is common to have sightings of this raptor on the reserve. It is also common to hear and see elegant trogons (Trogon elegans) during this time of year.
While we were at Los Pavos, we noticed many changes. During our previous visit, the vegetation was dry, but when we arrived this month, we observed green vegetation and buds on some of the trees. The rains continued, and the plants were full of life. Some trees, like palo blanco (Ipomoea sp.), were full of new leaves.
The rest of the trip was peaceful and without setbacks. We did not have many sightings of deer, possibly because they disperse during the rainy season. At the end of the month, we were able to see a coati that ran in front of our truck. After a few seconds, he changed his path and climbed up a hill. We stopped for a moment to get a better view, but he managed to get away.
The most important thing this month was that the rains have begun and have helped us all equally. The wildlife received nourishment, and we received the water that we need. We hope that the rains continue and that it will be a productive year for everyone.
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.