Jaguar Guardian Blog – October 2009

November 20, 2009


Dear friends,

When it just seemed like the rainy season had finished, we heard news on the radio about the tropical storm Olaf. Some days after Olaf, we heard about Patricia, another tropical storm – both affected this part of Sonora. These phenomena brought a soft but continuous rain for several days; there was more total precipitation during this time than in the whole summer season. For two days Rancho Los Pavos was covered by a dense mist – maybe the entire Northern Jaguar Reserve had this excellent view. Another time at La Ventana, the rain lasted through the night and almost all of the following day, and several streams had running water, even those that did not have water the rest of the year. It was a beautiful and amazing landscape, with clouds, mist, and water everywhere.

Rains also affected some sections of the dirt road. We almost got stuck many times on our travels, however nothing was impossible for our 4×4 Silverado – we love it. Driving off-road or on mud looks exciting sometimes, but it is not when we are several miles away from help in case we get stuck or something worse. Some parts of the road will need repairs in the coming months; we need your important support for this because road repair represents a high cost for the reserve management.

Despite the road problems caused by rain, and the rain itself, we accomplished the camera-trap work on the reserve. We reviewed all of the cameras, and we arranged the new camera placement at Los Pavos and Babisal. As with each month, we had a lot of photos of wildlife, and a lot of data to classify too. We can say that this month was the ocelot month: We had eight ocelot photos of different individuals at different sites across the entire reserve. So we are very happy because it is a new record for us. The ocelot is an interesting cat because it is rarer than other felids such as mountain lion or bobcat and it is protected by Mexican laws.

Of course, we had one good jaguar picture too! It is the jaguar newly named as “Cholla,” the same jaguar we asked you to suggest a name for in July.* With this picture, we could prove that the jaguar is a female, a very hungry female, because in the picture she is carrying a javelina that she killed. This picture was taken at La Ventana, the southern part of the reserve, where Heracleo “Laco” Duarte, the reserve’s vaquero and a great friend to us, has a small number of cows. We got livestock pictures from the same area too, so maybe this picture is good proof that predators won’t attack livestock if there is enough natural prey.

Also we found a night-snake (Hypsiglena torquata) at La Ventana. It is another new record for the reserve. Furthermore we saw a long-nosed snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei) at Babisal and another one dead at Los Pavos; we found a little horned lizard at Babisal too. We hope to see more reptiles before winter arrives.

Finally, we want to introduce you to Tania Gutiérrez. She is the new Feline Photo Project field technician, and she already went to the reserve and neighboring ranches with us in order to learn the tricks about cameras and field work. We introduced her to all the ranchers. We all hope she continues getting a lot of feline photos and a lot of rewards. Her work on neighboring ranches will help us to obtain more systematic biological information in order to continue analyzing jaguar tendencies and understand a little more about this and other species.

Best regards,

– Carmina & Miguel

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

*Field staff voted for the name Cholla out of the choices submitted by NJP supporters this past summer. Thanks to Judy Tipton in Shelbyville, Kentucky, for contributing the winning selection!