Protecting Wild Cat Habitat

by Grupo Ecologico Sierra Gorda I.A.P
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Protecting Wild Cat Habitat
Protecting Wild Cat Habitat
Protecting Wild Cat Habitat
Protecting Wild Cat Habitat
Protecting Wild Cat Habitat
Protecting Wild Cat Habitat
Protecting Wild Cat Habitat
Protecting Wild Cat Habitat
Protecting Wild Cat Habitat
Protecting Wild Cat Habitat
Protecting Wild Cat Habitat
Protecting Wild Cat Habitat
Protecting Wild Cat Habitat

Although several fires have already occurred in the Sierra Gorda, none have become major fires, and none have affected any of the reserves. After a wet quarter at the end of 2022, 2023 brought unusually high temperatures and a scarcity of cold fronts, making much of the Sierra Gorda with a high probability of forest fires.

 In the reserves we have had no incidents outside of the routine (inspection tours) or with neighboring properties and beneficiaries of CO2 payments, where we maintained a continuous presence. The constant is conservation and the contrast between the reserves and properties under CO2 payments, and the environmental degradation that prevails in the surrounding areas, where extensive cattle ranching and the resulting deforestation and burning are a constant. During this period, the beneficiaries complied with the terms of the contracts and their forests were not under any circumstances subject to cattle ranching or timber extraction.

 We received Dr. Othón Alcántara and his team from the Institute of Biology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, who have initiated a study on the genetic diversity of one of the Magnolia species (Magnolia rzedowskiana) and the health of its populations. In this first visit, they collected pieces of the leaves, to later study them in the laboratory and find out the health and genetic diversity of the leaves.

In a later visit, we found 25 territorial marks freshly made by a puma the night before, which is always an encouragement and proof of the extent of protection. As well as the Magnolias awakening from their winter dormancy and putting on new leaves.

 And we had the great pleasure of recording for the first time a pair of Tamaulipan Tecolote (Glaucidium sanchezi) endemic to a sector of the Sierra Madre Oriental, of which we suspected its presence but did not know. We are proud to protect its habitat in the Sierra Gorda.

 Also, with the arrival of March, we reactivated our brigade with Abel Reséndiz once again as Brigade Chief, with basically the same members as last year (this is noteworthy, as they withstood the pressure and long days during the fire in the Cerro Prieto reserve), renewing equipment and starting with the maintenance of the firebreaks opened in previous years. And we had the generous contribution of elementary students from the International School of Queretaro to whom Roberto Pedraza gave a talk on the biodiversity of the Sierra Gorda and the effects of fire on it. Yeetlih Gomez organized a collection to support firefighting and bought 10 backpacks, which were given to our brigadistas.


 Aunque ya se han presentado varios incendios en la Sierra Gorda, ninguno ha pasado a mayores y no han afectado a alguna de las reservas. Luego de un trimestre con humedad a finales de 2022, el 2023 trajo temperaturas inusualmente altas y una escasez de frentes fríos, por lo que mucho de la Sierra Gorda con una alta probabilidad de incendios forestales.

En las reservas no hemos tenido incidentes fuera de lo rutinario (recorridos de inspección) o con los predios vecinos y beneficiarios de los pagos por CO2, donde mantuvimos presencia continua. La constante es la conservación y el contraste entre las reservas y predios bajo los pagos de CO2, y la degradación ambiental que impera en las áreas aledañas, donde la ganadería extensiva y los desmontes y quemas que acarrea son la constante. En este periodo los beneficiarios acataron los términos de los contratos y sus bosques en ningún caso tuvieron la presencia de ganado o la extracción de madera.

Recibimos al Dr. Othón Alcántara y su equipo de trabajo del Instituto de Biología de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, quienes han iniciado un estudio sobre la diversidad genética de una de las especies de Magnolia (Magnolia rzedowskiana) y la salud de sus poblaciones. En esta primera visita colectaron trozos de las hojas, para después estudiarlos en laboratorio y encontrar la salud y diversidad genética de las mismas.

En recorrido posterior, encontramos 25 marcas territoriales recién hechas por un puma la noche anterior, lo que siempre es un aliciente y prueba del alcance de la protección. Así como las Magnolias despertando de su letargo invernal y vistiéndose con hojas nuevas.

 Y tuvimos el enorme gusto de registrar por primera ocasión a una pareja del Tecolote Tamaulipeco (Glaucidium sanchezi) endémico a un sector de la Sierra Madre Oriental, del cual sospechábamos su presencia, pero no nos constaba. Un orgullo proteger sus hábitats en la Sierra Gorda.

 También con la llegada de marzo, reactivamos a nuestra brigada con una vez más Abel Reséndiz como Jefe de Brigada, con básicamente los mismos integrantes del año pasado (esto es de destacar, pues aguantaron la presión y largas jornadas durante el incendio en la reserva del Cerro Prieto), renovando equipo y comenzando ellos con el mantenimiento de las brechas corta fuego abiertas en años anteriores. Y tuvimos el generoso aporte de alumnos de primaria de la International School of Queretaro, a quienes Roberto Pedraza ofreció una plática sobre la biodiversidad de la Sierra Gorda y los efectos del fuego en la misma. Luego de ello, los mismos con el apoyo de su profesora, la Lic. Yeetlih Gomez organizaron una colecta para apoyar al combate del fuego y compraron 10 mochilas, que fueron entregadas a nuestros brigadistas.


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Fortunately for the Sierra Gorda, its forests and wildlife, autumn brought gentle drizzles that have made up in part for the poor rainy season. While the backlog is real and streams and springs did not run this year, these rains with the first cold fronts have brought much needed moisture, so the forests are in good condition and without water stress. 

We built fences to keep out the cattle of some neighboring landowners in two of the reserves, as well as maintenance of the fences in others. We have not had any incidents outside of the routine (inspection rounds) or with neighboring properties, except for the expulsion of cattle from neighboring properties that invade the reserves.

During the tours we found tracks, territorial marks and excrement of pumas and jaguars, peccary nests, quail scratching grounds and troops of coatimundis, which tells us about the health and wild state of their ecosystems.

In one of the tours through the cloud forest, we had the great pleasure of finding the rare orchid Lemboglossum rossii in full bloom, a species exclusive to the cloud forest and in serious danger of extinction. Let's remember that in Mexico less than 1% of the cloud forests survive, they are home to 12% of its flora diversity and 33% of it is endemic to them. The relicts of cloud forests are truly living treasures, and other species that we protect, typical of them are the Imperial Bromeliad (Tillandsia imperialis) or the Mexican Royal Oak (Quercus germana), of which we attach images.

We are also proud that the illegal logging, so public and cynical that occurs around the reserves does not touch any of them, which is a great satisfaction given the complete lack of environmental authority in the region. None of the reserves have recorded logging or timber theft, which is unique in the region and their value to wildlife is reinforced by the level of protection we are able to give them.

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The risk of forest fires was high from the beginning of spring due to high temperatures and drought. However, despite the water stress, the season remained relatively calm during April and mid-May, which may reflect an increase in environmental awareness of the negative impact that fires have on communities and farmers in the area.

Due to a storm that brought electrical discharges, a fire started in the Cerro Prieto reserve. We immediately called the three levels of government institutions involved in the matter, as well as our personnel and other brigades: CONAFOR, CONANP, SEDEA, Mexican Army, Civil Protection, Firefighters from Jalpan de Serra, La Lagunita, Corregidora and Ezequiel Montes, CONAFOR Rural Brigades, personnel from the Landa de Matamoros City Hall, and the indispensable local volunteers. Neighbors from the communities of Lagunita de San Diego and Mesa de la Cruz, who with their knowledge of the terrain, were the best guides. Everyone's presence was necessary to maintain an operational force on site with interspersed rest periods. On some days there were as many as 120 fighters on the various fronts.

Fighting forest fires is undoubtedly a strenuous task, with a high health cost (due to the constant inhalation of carbon monoxide), and the inherent danger of direct firefighting. On the second day of firefighting we were on the verge of being trapped by large tongues of fire (15 to 20 meters high) that in a matter of seconds went from being a small, controlled fire to being blown out of control by the strong winds.

Although in some places the fire was of low intensity, in others it spread to the treetops and in those places it had a calcinating effect, leaving nothing after it passed through. The combatants had to evacuate on several occasions due to the risk of being trapped in the fire or in the dense smoke. Fortunately, there were no incidents to report and when it was finally under control after 12 days of fighting, two successive rain events occurred, which completely extinguished the fire. 

The environmental authorities who were present at the fire were amazed by the degree of conservation of the Cerro Prieto reserve, where there is no trace of logging, in stark contrast to the neighboring properties, where illegal logging is rampant and very public.

The reserves under the custody of our staff are in good condition, however, we must not lose sight of the threats caused by global warming. 

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We started the year with the influence of cold fronts, which bring moisture and therefore the reserves were safe from the threat of fires until mid-March when spring took effect and temperatures rose dramatically, fortunately, we have not had fires.

And as for the past 5 years, the northeastern end of the Sierra Gorda received the seasonal migration of Green Macaws that come from the states of San Luis Potosi and possibly Tamaulipas, looking for food in the forests of that area. This is how the Hoya Verde and Canalitas reserves, in particular, become an important refuge for such magnificent birds, which this year arrived in the first week of January and the last ones left in the second week of April. It is therefore of utmost importance to keep these reserves intact and well protected so that they can provide a safe haven for the macaws.

The reserves are doing well, with the ranger team operating in a coordinated and effective manner, once again busy repairing fences and building new ones (Arenitas, San Francisco) where we hired additional workers, and Leonel Espino, who was once a ranger but emigrated to the United States temporarily, returned to collaborate with us. This is excellent news, as it facilitates the care and attention of the Arenitas reserve due to the proximity of his home. Leonel was already a member of our team, so he has previous experience and knows these reserves very well.

For his part, Abel Reséndiz had a regular presence in the reserves under his care where everything is in order and wherein Hoya Verde we had the great satisfaction of filming for the first time thanks to the use of camera traps donated by Bwild Mexico, a puma with a pair of cubs, in an incredible sequence of play between them. We will share that video soon.

And with the support of Miguel Flores and other colleagues, we had a regular and random presence in all the reserves.



Arrancamos el año con la influencia de frentes fríos, que traen humedad y por ende las reservas a salvo de la amenaza de los incendios hasta mediados de Marzo, cuando de manera contundente hizo efecto la primavera y las temperaturas subieron de manera drástica, aunque afortunadamente aún sin incendios.

Y como desde hace 5 años, el extremo noreste de la Sierra Gorda recibió a la migración estacional de Guacamayas Verdes que vienen desde los Estados de San Luís Potosí y posiblemente Tamaulipas, buscando alimento en los bosques de esa área. Es así que las reservas de la Hoya Verde y Canalitas en particular, se convierten en un importante refugio para tan magníficas aves, que este año llegaron en la primer semana de enero y las últimas se retiraron en la segunda semana de abril. Por lo que es de suma importancia mantener a esas reservas íntegras y bien protegidas, y puedan ofrecer así un refugio seguro para las guacamayas.

 Las reservas bien, con el equipo de guardaparques operando de manera coordenada y efectiva, una vez más atareados reparando cercados y construyendo nuevos (Arenitas, San Francisco) donde contratamos a trabajadores adicionales, y volvió a colaborar con nosotros Leonel Espino, quien fuera guardaparque pero emigrara a los Estados Unidos temporalmente. Esto es una excelente noticia, pues facilita la atención y cuidado de la reserva de las Arenitas por la ubicación de su domicilio. Leonel ya fue miembro de nuestro equipo, por lo que tiene experiencia previa y conoce de la mejor manera a esas reservas.

Por su parte Abel Reséndiz tuvo presencia regular en las reservas a su cargo donde todo está en orden, y donde en la Hoya Verde tuvimos la enorme satisfacción de filmar por primera vez gracias al uso de las cámaras trampa donadas por Bwild Mexico, a una puma con un par de cachorros, en una secuencia de juego entre ellos increíble. Pronto compartiremos ese video.

Y con el apoyo de Miguel Flores y otros colegas tuvimos presencia regular y aleatoria en todas las reservas.


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During this period, without the threat of forest fires, our team of rangers was able to have a continuous presence in all of the private reserves.  Miguel Flores visited all of the private reserves in turn, while, Abel Reséndiz made regular visits to the private reserves under his care from his base in Valle Verde, and Robert Pedraza made mostly random visits for verification.  Without a doubt, illegal logging is one of the biggest threats to the integrity of the forests of the Sierra Gorda.  It is booming in the absence of governmental authorities.  But we are very proud that in 2021, in the reserves, there was not one act of illegal logging.  This shows that our working relationship with the adjacent landowners is paying off. 

We had no problems during the last quarter, except for the entry of tourists into one of the reserves, a situation that we are dealing with in conjunction with the neighboring area.  These spaces have been returned to the wildlife, humans should only have a sporadic presence.  Tourism would have a severe impact on their conservation, especially before the start of the dry season with the risk of forest fires.

The current state of the reserves is satisfactory.  We have synergy with our neighbors, in our conservation efforts.  Our continued presence prevents any abuse, the extraction of wood, and biodiversity.  We will not lower our guard.

We had the pleasure of joining B Mexico´s national campaign using high-definition camera traps.  Their Director, Sam Carrera, visited the Sierra Gorda and gifted GESG three cameras which were placed in one of the reserves.  We are hoping to soon share quality videos of our forest beneficiaries.   



Este periodo, ya sin la presión de incendios forestales, nos permitió tener una presencia fluida en todas las reservas y que ello redunda en respeto y protección para las mismas. Sin duda la tala clandestina sigue siendo una de las principales amenazas para la integridad de los bosques de la Sierra Gorda y florece ante la falta de presencia de la autoridad.

Sin embargo, tenemos el orgullo de que en todas las reservas, no tuvimos en este 2021 un solo acto de tala-robo de madera lo que ilustra de la mejor manera que nuestros esquemas e interacción de trabajo con los vecinos y colindantes están teniendo efecto. Miguel Flores tuvo presencia en todas ellas, Abel Reséndiz en las reservas que tiene a su cargo y alcance desde Valle Verde y Roberto Pedraza de manera aleatoria en la mayoría.

No tuvimos problemas o situaciones delicadas durante el periodo, salvo el ingreso de turistas a una de las mismas, situación que estamos atendiendo en conjunto con otros colindantes y detener dicha actividad, máxime ante el inicio de la temporada de estiaje y el riesgo de incendios forestales. Tenemos muy en claro que son espacios devueltos a la vida silvestre, donde los humanos sólo debemos tener una presencia esporádica y donde el turismo puede tener un severo impacto para su conservación.

Es obvio que ya tenemos una sinergia de conservación y respeto por parte de los colindantes, por lo que nuestra continua presencia inhibe cualquier situación de abuso, extracción de madera o saqueo de la biodiversidad. Desde luego no bajamos la guardia, pero la situación y estado de las reservas es satisfactorio.

Y tuvimos el gusto de sumar a un nuevo aliado; B México, organización que ha lanzado una campaña nacional de fototrampeo con cámaras de alta definición y la Sierra Gorda fue incluida en la misma. Por ello tuvimos la visita de su Director, Sam Carrera, quien nos donó tres cámaras que instalamos en una de las reservas, esperamos pronto contar con videos de excelente calidad de nuestros beneficiarios.

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Organization Information

Grupo Ecologico Sierra Gorda I.A.P

Location: Queretaro - Mexico
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @SierraGorda
Project Leader:
Martha "Pati" Ruiz Corzo
Jalpan de Serra , Queretaro Mexico
$42,756 raised of $75,000 goal
635 donations
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