September 23, 2011
This month, I returned to the reserve and ranches after the heaviest rains, although I expected the roads to the ranches to be in bad shape. I felt confident it would go well, without accident, since it was the first time I went in the new truck. I began my journey guiding two ornithologists, Adam Hannuksela and Rafael Valdez, into the Northern Jaguar Reserve to band birds as part of a fall molt migration study. It was also a bit of a sad trip for me, as this would be the last time that I would go to check the motion-triggered cameras at Las Tésotas since it is now part of the reserve. After finding several good camera sites at Tésotas in the last few months, I am sure Carmina and Miguel will do a great job maintaining the cameras and producing photos of wildlife here.
The photographs gathered this month at the Viviendo con Felinos ranches were almost all of pumas as well as three of ocelots, despite my not having high hopes of getting many photos during the rainy months because the animals could stay put with plenty of food and water. I’m not sure yet if the ocelots were previously photographed or are new individuals. There were no photos of jaguars this month, nevertheless, in nine out of 10 participating ranches there was at least one feline photo. This tells us that our work is going well and that everyone who participates directly or indirectly in the project is being compensated. I hope that our supporters are excited by the results shown. There were many beautiful photographs of pumas, and I will include one here that I especially liked.
The landscape looked incredible during the early morning outings, and after a good rainfall there was an impressive looking mist over the hills. The rainfall truly changes the landscape of the ranches and the reserve. The truth is that if I did not have a guide, I would have been lost in some of the places where there are cameras. Because of the rain, the vegetation was enormous, more than two meters high in some places, which was too much for me given my vertically challenged nature. It’s good that I am not allergic to the pollen, which saved me from sneezing as I hiked through the green fields full of flowers. The insects were double the amount one would normally experience, and I had the pleasure of meeting the famous baiburines (chiggers). I had to take extreme measures to keep them from bothering me. In regards to the temperature, although it was not as hot, there was a great deal of humidity and some nights one could really feel it.
This month’s trip finished at Cajón de Mudo. I realized that while the ranch is generally very beautiful, the route to the cameras is a difficult one. The hike there is hard but the things one sees walking along the arroyo are spectacular. Cameras cannot show what we see in real life (at least not my camera).
Finally, my trip coincided one day with Adam and Rafa at La Ventana, and I had the opportunity to see how they band birds as well as the good fortune to see a trogon and other species up close. It was a very different experience for me in a different setting and apparently very successful too.
All of these excursions were an adventure in the wild. Thanks to the whole team and those at the offices, as you have helped me have a better trip each time I go to the field. I hope that you have a wonderful month, and we will talk again next time.
Daniela Gutiérrez began her position as the Viviendo con Felinos field technician in March 2011. She works with ranchers surrounding the Northern Jaguar Reserve monitoring wildlife, particularly the area’s four large felines, and promoting habitat restoration.