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Thank YOU for Protecting Jaguars in Mexico!

By working with ranchers, we have created a 34,600-acre protected wildlife corridor directly north of the Northern Jaguar Reserve (NJR), allowing all predators (and prey) freedom to roam and breed. Through implementing synchronized breeding throughout Northern Sonora, there is a sustainable path to jaguar conservation, as well as a protected wildlife corridor to the U.S.

It was an excellent year for Project Wildcat (PW), our predator protection program which increases protection and survivorship of jaguars in Northern Sonora, Mexico, by introducing synchronized breeding practices that benefit ranchers who sign agreements not to kill jaguars or other big cats for preying on calves. PW also delivers environmental education programs to schools within the jaguars’ range to raise awareness about biodiversity, predator protection and our connection to nature.

To protect the remaining 80 jaguars in Northern Sonora, Mexico, so they can live safely, breed, and reach the United States once again, click here. 

Among this year’s many accomplishments:

1) Assisted with Mexican predation insurance, continued monitoring of predator presence in Sonora, Mexico, using cameras on PW ranches checked and maintained at least monthly.

In our PW program this year we assisted three ranchers that experienced livestock depredation by suspected jaguar or puma with investigations and the long, detailed reporting process that is required to be transmitted directly to the Mexican government insurance company. Our field technician continues to investigate these reports as a certified examiner and to complete the field investigations reports. Pumas were responsible for all reported kills. We followed up on all the reports submitted by PW ranchers until we received a positive result for the rancher in the form of partial compensation for losses that the government covers; covers the remainder.

2) Synchronize calving/breeding program

The natural forces that affect predator survivorship affect area ranchers and how they manage their livestock. We reduce predation rates and increase calving percentages (income) through the synchronization of calving, infrastructure projects that keep livestock safe, and elimination of livestock from high predator-use areas (riparian) during calving. Mitigation or reduction of livestock losses through a science-driven model to improve livestock husbandry and better management of crucial native buffer prey species is supported by livestock owners.

We continued veterinarian assistance that is the basis for a synchronized breeding program for two of the PW ranchers to identify “open” (not pregnant) and pregnant cows so as to induce an estrous period in those cows not pregnant. Half of the cows are now synchronized, and by next year we will see at least 85% of all the cows synchronized with a goal of 100% by the following year.

To protect the remaining 80 jaguars in Northern Sonora, Mexico, so they can live safely, breed, and reach the United States once again, click here. 

Project Wildcat Environmental Education Component

From December 2017 to May 25, 2018, PW educators made three trips in the PW area to 11 schools reaching 1,025 students and 52 teachers. In May of 2018, Dr. Van Devender presented Project Wildcat to the Madrean Conference in Tucson, Arizona, reaching 350 attendees.

– December 2017: 5 towns, 6 schools, 828 students, 34 teachers

– Feb 2018: 1 city, 1 school, 80 students, 5 teachers

– May 2018: 4 schools in Bacadéhuachi and Nacori Chico—3 towns, 4 schools, 117 students, 13 teachers

– Madrean Conference May 2018: Dr. Van Devender presented PW to researchers, partners in resource stewardship, land managers, educators and students, government officials, consultants and the interested public from both sides of the border.

Environmental education in PW targets public schools in the prime jaguar range in the Río Bavispe Valley and areas in which we wish to expand. The rural communities in these areas often only have elementary schools and telesecundarias (satellite middle schools). Bilingual educators in these isolated schools are incredibly open to presentations by visiting biologists. Raising awareness about natural history, biodiversity, and predator protection in Sonoran Sky Island mountain ranges is an important part of conservation. Van Devender regularly gives presentations that include PW to hundreds of other biologists and students at scientific meetings at universities, native plant and herpetological societies, and program, Madrean Discovery Expeditions (MDE).

Visiting these Mexican middle schools near the Sonora-Arizona border was a great experience for the students and us. The interactive PowerPoint presentations, where students are encouraged to name the animals and plants is a fun way to interact with the class. It helps us to understand how much time students spend learning with adults in their lives, especially parents, extended family, or neighbors.

The PowerPoint presentation on PW included a series of slides about PW. The mammals that the students commonly see are coyotes, deer, gray foxes, and ground squirrels. Collages of wildlife camera images were shown to teach Sonoran common names of a variety of mammals, roadrunners, turkey vultures, and wild turkeys. The images of jaguars, ocelots, and bears were especially exciting to the students.

To protect the remaining 80 jaguars in Northern Sonora, Mexico, so they can live safely, breed, and reach the United States once again, click here. 

by Jim Kober, October 3, 2018