Photos Captured By Project WILDCAT Wilderness Cameras Show Spotted Cats Returning To Madrean Region
When Project WILDCAT began in 2015, its mission was to protect predators in the lower Río Bavispe south of Granados, Sonora. Several images recently taken from wildlife cameras show healthy spotted cats, proof of the mission’s continued success.
The PW team has been working with landowners to switch to a synchronous breeding program where the bulls are with the cows only a short time each year. The team also spends time documenting and monitoring the wildlife, especially predatory cats like jaguars and ocelots, with the help of a few strategically placed cameras.
As seen in the photos below. The cameras are giving researchers a much clearer picture of the wildlife that make the Madrean mountain ranges their home.
The area being monitored for Project WILDCAT includes lands in the Río Bavispe lowlands, just north of the existing Northern Jaguar Reserve in Sonora, Mexico. Thomas R. Van Devender, formerly the Senior Research Scientist at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for 25 years, and since 2015, Director of Biodiversity Programs including Project WILDCAT at GreaterGood.org, organizes biodiversity inventories to Sonoran Sky Islands in the Madrean Discovery Expeditions (MDE) program.
Van Devender says jaguar and ocelots were a rare sight in the area for years, with only the northernmost breeding populations of those animals visiting the monitored region.
“Both spotted cats barely reach Arizona and are Endangered species in the United States,” Van Devender said, adding that much has changed in just a few years. “More than a dozen jaguars and ocelots from 27 different localities have been photographed since 2015! Photographs of these super secretive cats were especially common in the most recent set of Project WILDCAT wildlife camera images from late 2019 and early 2020 — three jaguars and ocelots from eight different cameras!”