Thriving Wildlife Captured On Trail Cameras In Sonoran Sky Islands

The Sonoran Sky Islands make up about 45,000 acres in northern Sonora in northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States. The terrain ranges in elevation from deep valleys to cloud-piercing peaks, and covers several major biogeographic zones.

Between the mountains and canyons, along the river, a thriving world of vulnerable flora and fauna can be found hiding in the long grasses of the savannah or in the ranch’s lush oak woodlands. Ocelots and jaguar skulk in the shadows, turkeys strut around in the bushes, and black bears look for berries and fish..

Recent photos taken by trail cams set up by the Madrean Discovery Expedition project show that these species are thriving.

Bears

a mother bear with mange on her back legs.
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
a mother bear with mange on her back legs.

The American black bear’s territory extends into Mexico in Sonora and Coahuila.

A bear scratches its back on a tree.
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
A bear scratches its back on a tree.

It is classified as a threatened species in Mexico, and in the Sonoran Sky Islands, is only common in a few mountain ranges.

Black bears are not all black, especially when they are young.
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
Black bears are not all black, especially when they are young.

Trail camera images caught in the Sierra Huachinera in the northernmost Sierra Madre Occidental shows that these black bears are actually not completely black.

Black bear caught on trail camera.
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
Black bear caught on trail camera.

Researchers used cans of sardines nailed to a tree to attract animals to a spot near the trail cameras.

This bear is playing with a can of sardines.
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
This bear is playing with a can of sardines.

The bears seem to love the fishy treats. The young ones even started playing with the can.

A young bear climbing a tree.
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
A young bear climbing a tree.

Coati

Coati caught by Madrean Discovery Expedition cameras.
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
Coati caught by Madrean Discovery Expedition cameras.

A group of gregarious cholugos (coati mundis) were photographed in the Sierra Huachinera by the MDE trail cameras.

Coati are threatened by habitat loss.
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
Coatis are threatened by habitat loss.

Coatis, relatives of the raccoon, have long been threatened by habitat loss.

Coati caught by Madrean Discovery Expedition cameras.
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
Coatis caught by Madrean Discovery Expedition cameras.

According to the World Land Trust, “The species is widespread and relatively common in areas of intact habitat, but populations are under threat from hunting and the destruction and fragmentation of forest in Central and South America. However, the level of threat and the relative decline in numbers is not well known as this species is relatively unstudied.”

Coati caught by Madrean Discovery Expedition cameras.
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
Coatis caught by Madrean Discovery Expedition cameras.

The Coatis seem to be thriving in the Sierra Huachinera.

Turkey

Turkeys caught by Madrean Discovery Expedition cameras.
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
Turkeys caught by Madrean Discovery Expedition cameras.

Wild turkeys are often caught by the trail cameras set out by Madrean Discovery Expedition.

The turkeys have exceptional camouflage, especially near the ground.
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
The turkeys have exceptional camouflage, especially near the ground.

These images show evidence of turkey chicks, but you may need to look closely to see them &emdash; they are very camouflaged!

These turkeys are thriving in the Sky Islands.
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
These turkeys are thriving in the Sky Islands.

Wildcats

Wildcats captured on trail camera.
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
Wildcats captured on trail camera.
These wildcats can easily blend in with their surroundings.
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
These wildcats can easily blend in with their surroundings.
Wildcats flourish in the Sonoran Sky Islands.
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
Wildcats flourish in the Sonoran Sky Islands.

Ocelots

An ocelot captured on one of the Madrean Discovery Expedition's trail cameras.
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
An ocelot captured on one of the Madrean Discovery Expedition’s trail cameras.
Ocelots have a place to thrive in the Sonoran Sky Islands.
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
Ocelots have a place to thrive in the Sonoran Sky Islands.

Importance of Madrean Discovery Expedition

Madrean Discovery Expeditions, a Signature Program of Greater Good Charities, is dedicated to exploring, studying, and protecting the Madrean Archipelago, a series of unique ecosystems that range from New Mexico and Arizona to Mexico. Throughout the year, groups of uniquely qualified and multinational participants come together to record the plants and animals of this incredible region, focusing on the vastly understudied region of Sonora, Mexico. This information is then stored in an open-source database for the world to share, study, and use to preserve these ecosystems forever. 

The MDE has amassed 57,184 biodiversity records in this studied region, assisted in collecting them by 615 international volunteers. The team has accomplished 20 expeditions, and currently has 45 trail cameras set up throughout the Sonoran Sky Islands.

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Check out the latest from Madrean Discovery Expeditions

Look at these images of thriving wildlife captured on MDE trail cams.

Gambel's Quail
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
A Gambel’s Quail.
Antelope jackrabbit
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
Antelope jackrabbit
Gila woodpecker
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
Gila woodpecker
Mockingbird
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
Mockingbird
Coatmundi or chlugo.
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
Coatmundi or chlugo
Coatmundi
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
Coatmundi
Coatmundi
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
Coatmundi
Whitetail deer
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
Whitetail deer
Whitetail deer
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
Whitetail deer
Whitetail deer
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
Whitetail deer
A baby peccary
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
A baby peccary
Puma
Source: Madrean Discovery Expedition
Puma
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