Staff

Megan “Turtle” Southern, Coordinator
Turtle has been employed by the Northern Jaguar Project since 2007, providing programmatic, fundraising, finance, and administrative leadership. With a B.A. in Biology from Wittenberg University, Turtle previously worked with the Student Environmental Action Coalition, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Earth First! Journal, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and with the Center for Biological Diversity when the jaguar received protection under the Endangered Species Act. Turtle has seen a Neotropical river otter and ocelot on the Northern Jaguar Reserve, mountain biked its bumpy roads, visited a jaguar cave, and taken local youth camping. But her favorite moments on the reserve are those shared with her canine companion, Avery.

Rita Leal, Assistant Coordinator
After receiving an M.S. in Clinical Psychology, Rita left her native Portugal in 2012 to work in Peru as an environmental educator. She next moved to South Africa and participated in studies on the behavior, physiology, and conservation of Cape ground squirrels, meerkats, Damaraland mole-rats, caracals, sociable weavers, and fork-tailed drongos. Rita developed a passion for photography and video, and in 2018, she volunteered on the Northern Jaguar Reserve and co-produced the documentary “Where Jaguars Roam.” Rita and her pup Jane Goodall joined our team soon after the film’s release. Highlights from her time on the reserve include finding a family of coatis resting high up a palm tree and seeing broad-billed hummingbird chicks take their first flight.

Carmina Gutiérrez González, Ph.D., Research Coordinator
Carmina received her M.S. in 2008 from 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 on the Northern Jaguar Reserve in 2008, and in 2016, received her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Querétaro based on her jaguar research on the reserve and Viviendo con Felinos ranches. She has participated in jaguar and carnivore projects in Querétaro, Sonora, Sinaloa, Jalisco, and Belize. Carmina finds each trip to the reserve to be a new adventure with its ever-changing and unique wilderness landscape.

Miguel Gómez Ramírez, Reserve Manager
Miguel has worked with wildlife conservation projects in Querétaro, Sinaloa, Jalisco, Colima, Chihuahua, and Sonora. He enjoys nature photography and loves spending time in the field. Miguel previously collaborated in training the Yaqui indigenous community in the use of motion-triggered cameras, confirming jaguar presence in the Sierra Bacatete. He also worked with Naturaleza y Cultura Sierra Madre to design a camera monitoring strategy to study jaguars near Alamos. Miguel began working on the Northern Jaguar Reserve in 2008. In 2015, he received his M.S. in Biological Resources from the University of Querétaro focused on ocelot densities on the reserve and Viviendo con Felinos ranches.

Heracleo “Laqui” Duarte López, Field Technician
Laqui started as a resident cowboy on the Northern Jaguar Reserve, along with his father, brother, and nephew. He has assisted visiting researchers since 2010, with a particular interest studying birds on the reserve. Laqui is trained in camera placement and maintenance, and today is responsible for checking motion-triggered cameras on the Northern Jaguar Reserve and Viviendo con Felinos ranches. He also has experience with restoration techniques and tractor operation, and helps with gabion construction and invasive species removal as available. His son, José Ezequiel, participates in our Eco-Guardian program. Laqui is a recipient of the Disney Conservation Hero award.

Federico Mora Carrillo, Field Biologist
Federico received a B.S. in Biology from the Universidad Juárez Autónoma de Tabasco. He has worked on carnivore projects, primarily jaguar and Mexican gray wolf, in Sonora, Chihuahua, Querétaro, Jalisco, Campeche, and Tabasco, where he perfected the handling of motion-triggered cameras. He has additional training in bird, mammal, amphibian, and reptile identification. Federico joined our team in 2019 and loves to work in the field. He spends a lot of time tracking animals and looking for footprints to make unique plaster molds.

Braulio Duarte López, Cowboy
Braulio is the eldest of our cowboy Laco’s sons and inherited his father’s work ethic and knowledge. He has an inner drive to work hard as a skilled albañil (handyman) and produces quality results. As a fulltime cowboy on the Northern Jaguar Reserve since 2015, Braulio builds with adobe, wood, and stone, collects rocks to make gabions, helps repair and install fencing, and assists with motion-triggered camera maintenance as needed. Braulio likes to spend time working as a leather artisan, making belts, scabbards, and repairing saddles.

Braulio Duarte Arvayo, Cowboy
The younger Braulio enthusiastically joined our field team in 2017. He rapidly developed the skills to help with motion-triggered camera operation, as well as a passion and knowledge for wildlife. In addition to maintenance and restoration activities, Braulio helps with biological monitoring. While working on the Northern Jaguar Reserve, he has overcome his fear of snakes and can handle non-venomous reptiles, if needed, to move them out of harm’s way.

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Heracleo “Laco” Duarte Robles, Cowboy
Laco, who works alongside his sons and grandson, patrols the Northern Jaguar Reserve to keep trespassers out and maintains fences to prevent wandering cattle from coming in. He is a traditional Sonoran cowboy, originally from Arivechi, and worked as the lead cowboy on these ranches since 1982. Laco has seen jaguars on more than a dozen occasions and knows this terrain better than anyone. He is also a local artisan and makes traditional leather lassos.

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Blanca Napoles Trujillo, Environmental Educator
Blanca founded a nonprofit environmental education organization, Conciencia y Educación Ambiental in 2004. Today she uses her training as an environmental educator to make a difference in the communities and habitats where jaguars live. Blanca previously worked for the Mexican forestry agency CONAFOR, and like her sister Santa, is a certified environmental interpreter by the National Association for Interpretation. She is the coordinator of Conciencia y Educación Ambiental and has worked in urban and rural areas throughout Sonora and along the Gulf of California to promote environmental awareness. As part of our team since 2016, Blanca works to strengthens local involvement with conservation projects.

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Santa Napoles Trujillo, Ph.D., Environmental Educator
Santa joined our team in 2016, and she excels at approaching ranchers from a place of collaboration and problem solving. Along with her sister Blanca, Santa designed and implemented the first environmental education program for jaguar conservation in Sonora in 2006. She previously worked as ecology director for the Municipio of Guaymas and as manager of the Natural Protected Area in the Estero del Soldado. Santa has been a member of the advisory council for sustainable development at SEMARNAT since 2008. She is the executive director of Conciencia y Educación Ambiental and earned her Ph.D. in Conservation and Management of the Natural Environment from the Universidad Internacional de Andalucía.

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Adriana Segura Escobar, Administrative Assistant
Adriana is originally from Villahermosa, Tabasco, and moved to Sonora in 2019 to become part of our team. She loves many types of plants and animals, but since she started working in Sahuaripa has become a fan of bobcats and Gila monsters. Adriana assists the field team, keeps in contact with the local government, and helps with outreach to local youth and the larger community. Whenever she has the opportunity, she goes for hikes to take photos and plays with the dogs she finds along the way.

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Ramón Cordova Coronado, Education Assistant
A lifelong Sahuaripa resident, the parent of two sons in our Eco-Guardian program, and the principal at the local elementary school Escuadrón 201, Ramón has participated in our local outreach programs for many years. He had respect for the natural world instilled in him at a young age and believes working with youth is a way to involve adults in conservation. Ramón joined our team in 2019 to develop regular activities with the Eco-Guardians and local schools, involving students, parents, teachers, and school staff in environmental awareness projects.

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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.