November 16, 2013
During this month’s field trip on the Viviendo con Felinos ranches, I traveled with a companion, Laqui Duarte, who works as a vaquero on the Northern Jaguar Reserve. Our trip was dedicated to placing motion-triggered cameras on the ranches where agreements have been signed to protect wildlife, particularly the four species of felines found in this area.
Overall, the ranches we visited demonstrated a high diversity of plants and animals. There are one or two properties where we find more wear and tear due to an overabundance of cattle, yet still it is possible to see different types of vegetation. At El Sapo, the vinorama plants (Acacia cochliacantha) and ocotillo (Fouquieria sp.) cover the landscape and make it a little difficult to reach the cameras. El Puerto is a ranch with an abundance of oaks, and it is possible to see species of Quercus emoryi, Q. tuberculata, Q. albocincta, and Q. viminea. This last species is especially appealing to me when the color of its leaves begins to change in autumn from a bright green to a color somewhere between orange and red. This gives a tonality to the hills where there are many trees of this species.
While checking the cameras at Los Alisos, we had a very special visit. We saw a group of wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) going up the road. There were probably close to 15 of them, maybe more, but they moved so quickly that it was impossible to get an exact count. They were running along the road for a short while until they changed direction toward a small arroyo. Later, we had a difficult time checking the cameras at El Sombrerete because the road was damaged from the summer rains. We drove very slowly and carefully until finally we arrived at the site.
After our stops at the Viviendo ranches, we had the opportunity to travel south to the Reserva Monte Mojino, in the municipality of Alamos, to share our experience and knowledge with camera trapping and outreach to local ranchers. The Reserva Monte Mojino is a private reserve like ours, although it is different from the jaguar reserve because the vegetation is primarily tropical deciduous forest.
We were able to observe a beautiful bird, the Black-throated magpie-jay (Calocitta colliei). This is a turquoise blue bird with a very long tail, that moves in small groups of four or five, and has a loud call similar to chachalacas and macaws. The Reserva Monte Mojina was undoubtedly rich in biodiversity, and we felt fortunate to experience such a magical place where one can enjoy nature. It is so important to continue the work to preserve ecosystems like those found at the Northern Jaguar Reserve and the Reserva Monte Mojino. Together, we are doing our part to continue to unite people to help protect wild places.
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.