March 25, 2014
On this trip, Laqui and I checked the reserve’s motion-triggered cameras beginning at Los Pavos, where we visited sites that were still pending from last time. We can already feel that summer is approaching, and the increase in temperature this month made our longest hikes to camera sites more difficult. During our travels, we realized that we were hearing more bird calls as the number of birds on the reserve has increased. We noticed this at the same time last spring.
It is interesting to see that the trees have begun to flower even though water is limited this time of year. The vinorama (Acacia farnesiana), Palo Chino (Havardia mexicana), willows (Salix sp.) and some mesquites (Prosopis sp.) are flowering and the aroma is very pleasant. Many trees provide food for mammals and birds on the reserve. The mesquites produce pods that are locally called “pechitas,” which are consumed by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) as well as javelina (Pecari tajacu) – the principal prey species for jaguars and pumas. The oaks (Quercus sp.) produce acorns, and, like the mesquite pods, they are consumed by deer, javelina, coatis (Nasua narica), and turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo). By taking care of the flora, we can maintain a good population of mammals, birds, and so on. They form a part of the food chain, and an ecological equilibrium is maintained in the area that spans our Northern Jaguar Reserve.
We have retrieved photographs of at least four new jaguars, which we have not named yet. This makes us all very happy to see that our efforts to provide a good refuge for them have showed results. The most frequently photographed jaguars continue to be “Caza” and “Libélula.” It is interesting how these females have taken over the majority of the territory on the reserve. We have seen Caza in the wide area between Los Alisos and Los Pavos, where she appeared recently, and we have seen Libélula wandering Dubaral, Babisal, Los Alisos, and Bábaco. Another jaguar that has been roaming Los Pavos is “Ramón,” a collared jaguar that is being studied by UNAM in order to know his movements, preferences, and eating habits. With regard to pumas, the population is doing well with many registered photos. Ocelots appear less frequently, and bobcats continue to visit all the sites with cameras.
As I mentioned before, the temperature is getting warmer. There were some cold days, and one night while we were sleeping at El Saucito, there was a big rainstorm with hail. It rained enough to add humidity to the ground and some arroyos were running for a short time. This was good news for the ranchers, as they always appreciate rain to replenish the pastures for their cattle.
Close to the end of our trip, we had the opportunity to visit a new area of Teópari, a recently enrolled ranch in the Viviendo con Felinos project. Because we were not sure where to put our cameras, the owner asked a vaquero to accompany us to the site. We were able to see large pastures, and among these was a large mountain (“Cerro de los Pinos”) where we could see the transitions between many different types of vegetation, known as ecotones. We noticed that the quantity of mesquite decreased with an increase of altitude. Higher up there was a mix of mesquite and oak, and even higher a mix of oak and pine. Teópari is one of the ranches with a healthy oak forest.
That is the news from our last trip to the reserve and surrounding ranches. We look forward to next month and bringing you more insights on how we spend our days out on the Northern Jaguar Reserve.
Until then friends,
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, inventory the ecological health of the land and water, and work with ranchers to support local wildlife.