Yucatán, Mexico

Beginning on the Rancho El Zapotal near the northern coast of the state of Yucatán in Mexico, this is the first scientific study of jaguars near the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve.
Pronatura Peninsula de Yucatán, a non-governmental conservation organization based in Mérida, purchased this 2,700-hectare former cattle ranch in 2002 for the purpose of initiating land conservation outside government-managed property.

Inviting partnerships with organizations sharing its goals of sustainable land use and preservation of biodiversity, Pronatura has joined forces with the Instituto de Ecología of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and the Fort Worth Zoo to begin a study of jaguar population density in February, 2004.

Shown above, from left to right, are Stacey Johnson, Fort Worth Zoo, Juan Carlos Faller, Pronatura Peninsula de Yucatán, and Cuauhtémoc Chávez, Instituto de Ecología UNAM.


Camera sites are first plotted on a detailed map of the area and then located on the ground using GPS. We mount the cameras to trees in areas where wildlife is known to travel through the forest. Film is collected for developing every two to four weeks, and cameras are moved to new sites every four weeks. Over a six-month period, more than 100 square kilometers will be studied.

Using camera "traps" equipped with an infrared sensor to photograph animals as they pass, information on the movements, identification and activity of jaguars can be recorded without physically capturing the animals. The project actually began collecting data on February 12, 2004, and in its first season will work through July, 2004.

Jaguars and pumas are known to live in the immediate area. Tracks and other markings are regularly found.
(The coin used as a size reference is a nickle.)

Yet only a few patches of undisturbed forest remain in the region outside the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve. Learning about and protecting the habitat of jaguars, this ecosystem's top predator, will help maintain it for all its inhabitants - including people.

Camera trap photos from Mexico will be posted to this website.

Click here to share the excitement with us as the project unfolds!