Jaguar Guardian Blog – May/June 2010

July 16, 2010

Dear Friends,

This time there are many things to tell you about our activities at the Northern Jaguar Reserve. Despite the intense summer heat in this region, we had a good time working with friends – including the Wild Horizons crew, Rick Williams, some neighboring ranchers, and the reserve’s vaquero Laco and his family.

In early May, we installed a solar-powered weather station at Los Pavos. Our friend (and the new reserve manager) Rick Williams helped us with the process. It was a different experience from many others we have had at the reserve. We started with a hole in the ground, and then it was necessary to secure a metal post in the hole with a cement mix that we made – that was hard, but very fun. The final steps were mounting and configuring the weather station’s CPU and sensors. Now the weather station is working, gathering daily readings at Los Pavos, and we are ready to install another one! It is important to have weather records at the reserve and adjacent areas in order to get a better understanding of the biological events that happen in the area.

At the end of our stay, we took Wild Horizons’ cameras and film equipment out of the field. Unfortunately, the batteries, sensors, and camera performance were affected by the heat, and they were unable to film jaguars at the reserve due to these failures. The Wild Horizons team will return better equipped for the challenging task of filming a jaguar, and we will be waiting to help them.

Regarding jaguar photographs at the reserve and on neighboring ranches: In the last two months, there were several jaguars recorded. Between May and June, there were 12 records of four different jaguars: Mayo, Cecilio, and possibly two new individuals at Babisal and the neighboring Rancho Las Tesotas.

Mayo was photographed many times at different places on Los Pavos and Dubaral between May 9 and June 21. He was very near the Dubaral ranch headquarters in early June. It seems that Mayo has increased his territory on the reserve, and this possibly means that he has occupied Perrito’s place. This is a little sad for us because Perrito is our favorite jaguar.

On a second review of the jaguar pictures from recent months, we concluded that the potential new jaguar at Dubaral in April was actually Cecilio. Cecilio was first photographed on the neighboring Rancho Los Alisos in February 2009, and he appeared in the same place one year later this past February. The great surprise is that we recently had four photographs of Cecilio at Dubaral on May 22 and 23, approximately 23 kilometers northwest of Los Alisos. So, what is Cecilio doing at Dubaral? Maybe looking for a female?

Moreover, we have two images of jaguars which seem to be new records since both spot patterns are different to other jaguars we’ve documented. One jaguar was photographed on May 9 at Rancho Las Tesotas, which is owned by Sergio Amaya, who recently joined the Feline Photo Project. This is great news for him because he can see right away that it is good to protect jaguars. The other image of a jaguar was taken in Arroyo Babisal at the reserve on June 27. Because we only have different, single side views in these two cases, right and left respectively, it is possible that both pictures correspond to the same individual. We need obtain both sides of these jaguars (or this jaguar) through paired camera-trap stations.

Of course, there were many photos of wildlife from the cameras as with each month, thousands of photos to archive! We also saw military macaws at Los Pavos, one puma at Babisal, another puma at La Ventana, two rattlesnakes, and a lot of deer. The reserve provides the feeling of a good wilderness experience.

We want to thank Diana Zamora, a student at the University of Querétaro, for her support in this field work during the time that Carmina has been recovering from her ankle injury. Diana was able to take samples of the skin of amphibians at the reserve, which she will analyze with the help of other biologists in search of Chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis). This fungus causes the chytridiomicosis disease that has resulted in declining amphibian populations around the world.

Finally, a new element to the team is Diego Gutiérrez. Diego is a biologist who comes from Guadalajara, and he will be in charge of the Feline Photo Project as its field technician. We warmly welcome him and wish him great success.

All the best,

– 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.