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How Camera Trap Images Are Saving Jaguars

In November of 2015, GreaterGood.org launched our Project Wildcat program, which works with local ranchers in Sonora, Mexico to create a protected area for jaguars and other large predators. One way we use to gauge success of the program is to place “camera traps,” or motion-triggered cameras, throughout the affected area in order to confirm the presence of certain wildlife on the land we are protecting.

This January, we received our first set of images from 12 of our cameras placed on six ranches centered around Granados, Sonora in Mexico. What we found shocked us. We had hoped to capture a few images of predators like jaguars, but were blown away when we began to comb through each camera’s photos, and we think you will be too!

OCELOTS

Leopardus pardalis are known by their common name of ocelot. This unique animal is a wild cat found extensively within South America, Central America and Mexico. Populations of ocelot in the United States have dramatically decreased in recent years. So much so that they have been placed on the endangered species list. Our camera traps captured several images of ocelots in their natural environment.

A mother ocelot with her cub.

A mother ocelot with her cub.

Ocelot photographed during the day.

Ocelot photographed during the day.

Ocelot photographed at night. Notice the stripes on its neck, which indicate it is an ocelot.

Ocelot photographed at night. Notice the beautiful stripes on its neck!

MOUNTAIN LIONS

Puma concolor, also known as a cougar, puma or mountain lion, has a wide range of habitat extending from central Canada to Argentina. While populations of this animal are decreasing, they have not been placed on the endangered list. Although these animals are not entirely unseen, our camera traps photographed never before photographed behavior. On January 8th, 2016 our cameras captured a mountain lion “scrapping” or marking its territory. This type of behavior is not commonly seen and even more rarely photographed.

Mountain lion.

Mountain lion.

Mountain lion photographed "scrapping". This is an incredibly rare sighting.

Mountain lion photographed “scrapping”. This is an incredibly rare sighting.

JAGUARS

Panthera onca, or more commonly known as jaguars, are an elusive and secretive cat that are rarely seen and even more rarely photographed. This incredible animal once roamed from the Grand Canyon all the way to Argentina, but sadly populations have been almost completely eliminated. Their beautiful fur often make them targets for poachers and their large appetites and propensity to feast on cattle make them targets for ranchers. This deadly combination is what GreaterGood.org is working to change by incorporating alternative cattle protection methods for ranchers. These amazing photographs capture a female jaguar on two separate ranches.

Rarely photographed jagauar

Rarely photographed jagauar

Female jaguar (same as above) photographed on a different ranch.

Female jaguar (same as above) photographed on a different ranch.

The Sky Islands is a vast mountain range that spans two countries, four states and covers both protected and unprotected public and private land. The majority of the Sky Island mountain range is a part of the Coronado National Forest, the most ecologically diverse National Forest in the country. This region is dense with incredible populations of plant and animal life, parts of which are yet to be discovered. It’s in this biodiversity hotspot that GreaterGood.org was able to photograph these incredible creatures.

by Daniel Olitzky, February 10, 2016