Megan “Turtle” Southern, NJP Coordinator
Turtle has been employed by the Northern Jaguar Project since 2007, providing administrative, fundraising, and programmatic support. Having received a B.A. in Biology from Wittenberg University, Turtle held positions within the national office of the Student Environmental Action Coalition and in People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ research and investigations department. Since moving to Arizona, she has worked as membership coordinator for the Center for Biological Diversity and as co-editor of the Earth First! Journal. Outside of this, Turtle traveled across the U.S. on a tandem bicycle with her dog, Ellen, to raise money for charity, and, she documented the harp seal hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Randy Young Villegas, Reserve Manager
Randy headshotRandy has held a strong connection with the outdoor and ranching communities since his youth in New Mexico, Cuidad Juarez, and Parral, Chihuahua. He has performed construction work since he was old enough to hold a hammer and is proficient in all aspects of building to maintain the reserve’s infrastructure. Randy is a certified auto mechanic and has Wilderness Advanced First Aid certification. He is experienced in water harvesting and small-scale watershed restoration. As a talented sculptor and artist, Randy is both welder and blacksmith, and works in cast bronze, stone, wood, and ceramics. As a professional outdoor guide, he has led groups in Arizona and Sonora for more than a decade, sharing his vast appreciation for nature. He became the Northern Jaguar Reserve manager in 2015.

Braulio Duarte, Vaquero
Braulio Sr
Braulio is the eldest of Laco’s sons and has inherited his father’s work ethic along with a lot of his knowledge. Braulio is a vaquero since birth and a skilled albañil (handyman). He possesses an inner drive to not only work hard but to also do good work. Whether building with adobe, wood, or stone, or collecting rocks to make gabions, Braulio keeps a good attitude and a sharp eye on the task at hand. As a fulltime vaquero on the Northern Jaguar Reserve since 2015, he is learning about motion-triggered camera placement and maintenance to help our jaguar guardians when needed. Like his father, Braulio spends time working with leather, making belts and scabbards and repairing saddles.

Laco Duarte, Vaquero
Laco_1aLaco, who works in tandem with his sons, has many duties that are somewhat unique for a Sonoran cowboy. He patrols the Northern Jaguar Reserve to keep trespassers out, keeps perimeter fences in good condition to prevent wandering cattle from entering the reserve, maintains the reserve’s structures, and carries out projects as directed by the reserve manager. Laco is originally from Arivechi yet has been in the Sahuaripa area for many years. Having worked as the lead cowboy for the reserve’s previous owner since 1980, Laco knows this terrain better than anyone and is one of the few people who have seen a jaguar on the reserve. He is also a local artisan and makes traditional leather lassos.

Laqui Duarte, Field Assistant and Vaquero
Northern Jaguar Reserve Bird Survey Trip - April 2012Laqui is one of the resident vaqueros on the Northern Jaguar Reserve along with his father Laco and brother Braulio. Laqui has assisted visiting researchers in a variety of disciplines since 2010, with a particular interest in learning from ornithologists conducting seasonal surveys and molt-migration research. Laqui is fully trained in camera placement and maintenance, and he regularly assists our jaguar guardians with checking motion-triggered cameras. He also has had training in habitat restoration techniques and helps to coordinate gabion construction and other restoration projects on the reserve and neighboring Viviendo con Felinos ranches.

Miguel Gómez Ramírez, Reserve Biologist
Miguel has participated in a diversity of projects involving wildlife conservation in several states of Mexico, including Querétaro, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, and Sonora. He enjoys nature photography and loves spending time in the field. Miguel collaborated with Naturalia in training the Yaqui indigenous community in the use of camera traps, a method through which they proved the presence of jaguars in the Sierra Bacatete region. He also worked with Naturaleza y Cultura Sierra Madre to design a camera monitoring strategy to study jaguars near Alamos, Sonora. Miguel began working as a jaguar guardian on the Northern Jaguar Reserve in 2008, and in 2015, completed his master’s degree from the University of Querétaro focused on ocelot densities on the reserve and Viviendo con Felinos ranches.

Carmina Gutiérrez González, Reserve Biologist
Carmina started working with mammals in 2004 when she first collaborated on a field study on the eating habits of coyotes and bobcats. She previously worked with fungi, bacteria, and soil-plant relationships. Carmina received her master’s degree in 2008 at the Instituto de Ecología, studying mammalian carnivore communities and camera trapping in arid ecosystems. She particularly likes to work with GIS, landscape ecology, and population dynamics related to carnivore species, and has led camera training for the Yaqui community in the Sierra Bacatete. Carmina was hired as a jaguar guardian on the Northern Jaguar Reserve in 2008. She has participated in jaguar and carnivore projects in the Mexican states of Querétaro, Sonora, Sinaloa, and Jalisco and collaborated on a jaguar study in Belize. In 2016, Carmina will receive her PhD from the University of Querétaro based on her jaguar research on the reserve and Viviendo con Felinos ranches.


Daniela Gutiérrez began her position as the Viviendo con Felinos field technician in March 2011. A biologist from the University of Querétaro, Daniela has participated in jaguar research with Carlos López González in Sonora and Querétaro, research on gray fox in Baja California, and a study of rodents associated with Palo fierro in Sonora. She has a master’s degree in marine ecology from CICESE (Ensenada) where she worked with marine mammals such as the California sea lion, Guadalupe fur seal, gray whale, northern elephant seal, and humpback whale.