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Jaguar Sightings in Sonora, Mexico

On October 17, 2016 our team had the opportunity to visit Project WILDCAT, one of GreaterGood.org’s Signature Programs.  In partnership with Primero Conservation, Project WILDCAT is working to protect the northernmost jaguar breeding population in Sonora, Mexico, just north of the existing Northern Jaguar Reserve. In this unique region, we are working with local land owners to develop new management practices that will benefit cattle raising and protect the wildlife at the same time.

In the past year, Project WILDCAT has signed conservation agreements with the landowners of six connected and contiguous ranches who have agreed to refrain from killing jaguars and other predators in exchange for training, supplies, and equipment to protect their cattle. They have also placed wildlife cameras in prime habitats to document the jaguars and other animals. After six months of Project WILDCAT, 32 species of animals (19 mammals, 13 birds) were recorded on the cameras on the six ranches in the Granados, Sonora area. These cameras have captured an incredible variety of mammals and birds in addition to the endangered jaguar, including coatimundi (cholugo in Sonora), gray fox (zorra), ocelot (tigrillo), bobcat (gato poche), and mountain lion (león), and white-tailed deer (venado cola blanca).

Our three day trip led us through jaguar country to meet the various ranchers who participate in the program. First we met Duarte, a rancher who used to kill jaguars and other big cats in retaliation for his cattle losses.  He estimates that big cats kill an average of 15-28 of his cows each year, an economic loss which is much more manageable thanks to Project Wildcat.  He explained how his whole outlook on predators is changing; not only does the livestock compensation help him cover his losses, but he is increasingly interested in the conservation and care for jaguars and other big cats.

We then met Memo Galez, our local contact who organized the ranchers and installs and checks the cameras. Galez led us down a windy, rocky road to two remote ranches. These ranchers expressed similar gratitude for Project Wildcat, and together with Galez our team rode horses along the base of the red stone mountains to check the camera traps and visit some sites known to have large predators.

With YOUR help, we can continue to save jaguars by working with ranchers, and prove that ranchers can coexist with these majestic creatures.  Let’s make sure the small jaguar population of the Sky Island region is not lost and continues to grow!

 

by Daniel Olitzky, February 20, 2017