The private nature reserves established across 5,242 hectares (12953 acres) have had adequate conservation management to assure habitat protection for biodiversity.
The forest rangers we work with have a constant presence in the reserves they steward, to assure there is no livestock, illegal logging and poaching.
The four park rangers we employ (Leonel Espino, Abel Reséndiz, , Javier Aguillón, Emiliano Cárdenas) and their supervisor, Miguel Flores, make weekly site visits and were accompanied to the field by the program leader, Roberto Pedraza Muñoz, at random four times in the last 3 months. Thanks to the park rangers presence, all of the reserves are free of activities that would otherwise damage the biodiversity.
Leonel Espino, located in Rancho Nuevo, does a weekly surveillance check throughout the combined reserves: San Francisco - Arenitas – San José; Abel Reséndiz, located inValle Verde, does surveillance in the Cañón del Fresno and la Joya Verde; Javier Aguillón makes rounds in the reserves Cerro La Luz – Cerro Prieto – El Guayamé; and Emiliano Cárdenas is vigilant of the reserves Hoya del Hielo and Cueva El Tigre. Thanks to their combined experience and the training they receive, they help monitor the passage of wild cats: jaguars, mountain lions, ocelots; in addition to the presence and movements of small mammals (peccarie, armadillo, coatimundi, etc.) and other species like macaws, parrots, chivizcoyos and the orchids that flower in the forests.
Within the bio-corridor where the private reserves are located, we dedicate resources to the surveillance and monitoring of the lands that surround the reserves, because the neighboring property owners are part of the payment for environmental services which means they are dedicated exclusively to wildlife conservation.
The support and accompaniment by the program assistant, Miguel Flores, whose periodical visits are both to verify the reports fromt he field and to take management decisions such as the restoration of waterholes for wildlife or trail maintenance.
In these last three months, Sierra Gorda suffered the harshest part of the dry season, and we participated in the control of two forest fires and the coordination with the agencies of the sector. The forest fire that occurred in between the Hoya Verde and El Jagueycito reserves consumed almost 2000 hectares of temperate forest. The strong winds incited a canopy fire which devastated a portion of the forest. We made reconnaissance of the leading edge of the forest fires and alerted residents as needed and cleaned fire breaks with five additional day workers and finally it was extinguished with the rains of the cold front #62 to cross the country.
The second forest fire threatened the eastern reaches of Hoja del Hielo reserve and Abel and Miguel again participated in the firefighting and once again, thanks to a seasonal storm with 15mm of rain came to put the fire out.
Fortunately no other forest fires were reported. The on-going environmental education in the local communities and the weekly radio program reinforce the message to prevent forest fires.
Among the responsabilities of the forest rangers on patrol is to assure the functional capacity. Recently, Leonel took care of a small dam that provides water to wildlife in the Arenitas Reserve. Occassionally we hire additional day workers and three were required in this case to remove a considerable section of a huge oak tree that had fallen over the water hole. While working, the crew reported seeing green parrots in two sinkholes located nearby, nesting in the sides of the caves.
Javier Aguillón, the ranger in charge of Cerro Prieto has been monitoring trails with a camera trap and finally had the luck to capture images of diverse small mammals that congregate at the spring nearby. Some shots are attached below.
The naturalist who is the point person with the World Land Trust UK, Roberto Pedraza Ruiz, participated in the liberation of a female margay. Mr. Juan Fonseca from a ranch community, El Madroño, had reported his chickens being eaten by a wild cat and taking things into his own hands, discreetly captured the culprit with a soft blanket and called Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda´s offices to request help in liberating her and he accompanied Roberto to a similar forest away from his livestock.
Laura P. B. Pérez-Arce
Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda IAP