December 18, 2015
This month, I traveled with Braulio Duarte, one of our newest vaqueros on the Northern Jaguar Reserve. We began our adventure at Los Pavos, the ranch that is furthest north on the reserve, and we visited some of the sites where we have been known to get the best wildlife photographs. We saw white-tailed deer on two occasions, including two deer standing just 200 meters from us. They were peacefully enjoying the heat of the afternoon sun after a cold morning. Another time, a deer was running very quickly into the bushes, away from us and out of sight.
Because winter is coming, the days are getting shorter and the nights longer. This is an advantage for us this time of year. Our hikes to the camera sites are not as tedious as they are during the hottest season, and it is possible to be out during the day without getting dehydrated. Still, we have to work as hard and fast as we can because there are fewer daylight hours. This is the changing nature of fieldwork throughout the year, and those of us who love being out in nature don’t mind because there is nothing better than spending time in the tranquility of the reserve.
The paths we use are frequently covered with an overgrowth of prickly plants, like Acacia cochliacantha and mesquite, so we proceed slowly and almost always bring our machetes to cut branches. After the vegetation grows thick from the rainy season, it is impossible to see where we are, and we get lost at times. The roads we travel are also full of branches that hit against the truck. We can’t always cut them because it is so time consuming. The roads are worse on the reserve than they are on the Viviendo con Felinos ranches, probably because the ranch roads are used more often and have more maintenance.
We obtained some photos of the jaguar “Francisco” moving through the Dubaral arroyo this month at a site known as Los Aguajes. This site has two watering holes where these photographs were taken. We were happy to also retrieve photos of the male jaguar “Osman” at both Babisal and Tésotas.
On the Viviendo con Felinos ranches, we count on the help of ranchers and their vaqueros who lend us horses to go out to check cameras – like Uriel Villareal at El Saucito, Luis Alberto at Agua Fría, and Jorge at Teópari. At the end of the trip, we are usually very tired, and the cowboys realize how much we need to walk each day to accomplish our work. We appreciate their assistance, which allows us to recuperate from earlier, more tiresome days.
It is always a pleasure to tell you a little of what we have experienced and enjoyed here. We hope to surprise you with incredible adventures in the coming year.
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 maintains an extensive network of motion-triggered cameras, inventories the ecological health of the land and water, and works with ranchers to support local wildlife.