Wildlife Camera Trap Discoveries
Project Wildcat relies heavily on wildlife cameras to trap images of big cats and other wildlife. Many mammals are difficult to study, because they are secretive and mostly active at night. Thornscrub mammals are particularly poorly known. Project Wildcat wildlife cameras are set on ranches we have signed agreements with and checked often. It is extremely rare to see the elusive jaguar in the wild, and these cameras help us identify individual jaguars. In 2016, wildlife cameras captured images of 39 species of animals: 19 mammals, 18 birds, a Gila monster, and a Sonoran Desert toad. All four big cats native to Sonora are present. Jaguars have been seen on six cameras on four ranches. A female photographed in January on Rancho el Barragan was with a cub – a rare breeding record. Ocelots have been seen at 11 cameras (others several times) on all six ranches.
The primary objective of Project Wildcat is to increase protection and survivorship of jaguars in the northernmost breeding population in eastern Sonora, Mexico. Populations of jaguars and other mammals are evaluated using wildlife cameras on six ranches in foothills thornscrub habitats in the Río Bavispe basin. The use of wildlife cameras serve as our eyes, giving us a unique glimpse into the secret world of big cats.