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Sky Island Alliance Makes an Amazing Discovery

Sierra La Purica in the Sky Islands of SonoraRecently, GreaterGood.org was privileged to join Sky Island Alliance on the 2013 Madrean Archipelago Biodiversity Assesment to the Sierra La Púrica in Sonora, Mexico. This expedition was fully funded as a Signature Program of GreaterGood. A team of almost 50 expert scientists joined a group from CONANP (Comision Nacional De Áreas Naturales Protegidas – the Mexican National Forestry Service), and multiple groups from universities in Mexico to gather records in this beautiful range.

By the end of the trip, Sky Island scientists documented thousands of brand new records, including multiple endangered plants and animals, and what Tom Van Devender called “The most important record the MABA project has ever found” – the Ditmars horned lizard. This lizard was originally discovered in the late 1800s, then lost to science for 63 years, when it was rediscovered in 1960. It was since not seen again – until Sky Island Alliance found, photographed, and documented a juvenile of the species on this trip. The herpetologist who found the lizard has personally been looking for this species for 20 years.

The Ditmars horned lizardA juvenile reptile is a very good sign that there is a healthy population in the area, and this discovery of a juvenile of such a rare species will go a long way toward advocating for further land protection in an area that is competing for space with mining interests, agriculture, and development.

Protecting land in Mexico is tricky. While the land in the US can be protected at the federal level, the land in Mexico is mostly privately owned. It is necessary to work with ranchers and landowners south of the border to convince them of the importance of land conservation and achieve a voluntary designation. Discoveries like the Ditmars lizard ensure more land can be set aside, and that vital wildlife corridors can be preserved for larger rare animals like the majestic jaguar.

GreaterGood is proud to support Sky Island Alliance and proud to call MABA a Signature Program. You can help us study, protect, and conserve this incredibly unique range by donating today.

“Your support is key to protecting this land. Loss of habitat means a loss of jaguars. Sky Island Alliance works on bi-national efforts for habitat conservation and restoration. In the U.S., Wilderness designation is the most effective tool to protect habitat. In Mexico, we work in partnership with private landowners seeking voluntary land designations to create a network of conservation ranches that connect protected areas on both sides of the border. Thank you GreaterGood!”
-Sergio Avila, Manager of the Sky Island Alliance Wilderness Conservation Program

by Noah Horton, October 4, 2013