Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – On Saturday, August 10th, staff and volunteers of the Vallarta Botanical Garden worked with the biologist Diana Friedeberg, director of Panthera México, to install five custom built Panthera V6 camera traps in the Garden’s forest preserve.
The month before, longtime gardener and night watchman Marco Polo “El Tigre” González was one of two staff members who reported hearing a jaguar’s deep grunting vocalizations while on patrol of the Garden at night. Mr. González even noted a large set of feline eyes in the direction of these sounds. Diana Friedeberg interviewed Mr. González about this encounter and his knowledge of animal activities on the Garden’s property to help determine promising initial locations for the cameras.
An overhead camera trap placement near the Horcones River within the Vallarta Botanical Garden’s Forest Preserve. Even a major flood should never bring the river’s waters high enough to threaten a camera placed like this. (Photo: © Petr Myska)
On Sunday, September 2nd, the Garden’s staff biologist, Leonardo Campos, went out with our zoologist and photographer friend Petr Myska and Petr’s daughter Madelaine to download images from the camera traps and take care of their monthly maintenance.
While we don’t have any jaguar images yet, we have several bird shots and one overhead family portrait of a troop of White-nosed coati – which happen to be excellent jaguar prey. While overhead camera trap placements are unorthodox, this technique was used to allow us to monitor a potential game trail along the Horcones River without putting the trap in jeopardy during flood conditions which are highly possible now during our wettest time of the year.
In Puerto Vallarta, coati are often commonly referred to by the misnomer “tejón” or “tejones” – a name that is more appropriately reserved for badgers. Coati are members of the Procyonidae family which includes Ring-tailed “cats,” raccoons, and kinkajous. Regardless of what you choose to call them, a hungry jaguar would probably just think of them as “supper.”
The Vallarta Botanical Garden is actively recruiting volunteers to help with jaguar monitoring and other exciting projects. Those interested in learning more should write to escolar(at)vbgardens.org, with the word “voluntario” in the subject line.
As far as eventually capturing images of our primary feline target, Diana Friedeberg of Panthera México and Dr. Rodrigo Nuñez of Proyecto Jaguar / Alianza Jaguar told us to take heart – monitoring these elusive animals is a longterm endeavor… “Solo porque no hayas visto al jaguar no significa que el jaguar no ha visto.” Just because you haven’t seen the jaguar doesn’t mean the jaguar hasn’t seen you!
Visit the internationally famous Vallarta Botanical Garden located just 30 minutes south of Old Town at Km. 24 on Highway 200 and easily accessible by public transportation and taxi. This 64 acre wildlife preserve and botanical garden have something fun for everyone. See plantings of vanilla, chocolate, and hundreds of other botanical delights, and don’t forget to bring your swimsuit for a refreshing dip in the jungle river. The Garden is open daily from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm (closed Mondays from April 1 to December 1). Garden admission is just $200 pesos. Authentic Mexican Cuisine is served in the Hacienda de Oro Restaurant from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. For more information, call (322) 223-6182 or visit vbgardens.org.
Click HERE to learn more about Vallarta Botanical Gardens.