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OCCURRENCE OF JAGUAR (PANTHERA ONCA) IN SINALOA, MEXICO


CARLOS J. NAVARRO-SERMENT, CARLOS A. LOPEZ-GONZALEZ, JUAN-PABLO GALLO-REYNOSO* AND

Centro de Investigacion en Alimentacion y Desarrollo, A.C. Unidad Guaymas, Carretera a Varadero Nacional, Km. 6.6. Col. Las Playitas, Guaymas, Sonora 85480, Mexico (CJNS, JPGR) Escuela de Biologa, Universidad Autonoma de Queretaro, Cerro de las Campanas s/n, Queretaro, 76010, Mexico (CALG) *Correspondent: jpgallo@invitados.itesm.mx ABSTRACT Little is known about the distribution of jaguar (Panthera onca) in Sinaloa. We provide current information about the distribution of this species in this state. Different areas of the state were visited, and people were interviewed from May 2000 to May 2002. We obtained 57 records, of which 41 are new; records were most abundant in the southern half of the state. The extensive areas still covered by tropical deciduous forest in good condition are important for the conservation of the jaguar. The density of prey species for jaguar seems to be high according to local residents. Free-ranging cattle also are distributed in all areas of the state, and predation on cattle is common. Ranchers regularly kill jaguars using poisons (strychnine), dogs, steel traps, and shooting. The abundance of records suggests that the jaguar still exists in Sinaloa, especially in the mountainous areas, but there is an urgent need to conduct additional studies to determine its actual status. RESUMEN Se sabe poco de la distribucion del jaguar (Panthera onca) en Sinaloa. Proveemos informacion actual de la distribucion de esta especie en este estado. Se visitaron diferentes areas del estado y se entrevisto a los lugarenos de mayo del 2000 al mayo del 2002. Se presentan 57 registros de los cuales 41 son nuevos registros; los registros fueron mas abundantes en la mitad sur del estado. Las extensas areas todava cubiertas por bosque tropical caducifolio en buena condicion son importantes para la conservacion del jaguar. La densidad de las especies que con forman las presas del jaguar son aparentemente altas de acuerdo con las personas entrevistadas. El ganado vacuno tambien se encuentra distribuido por todo el estado, y la depredacion del ganado parece ser comun. Los rancheros regularmente matan a los jaguares usando venenos (estricnina), perros, trampas de acero y disparandoles. La abundancia de registros sugiere que el jaguar aun existe en Sinaloa, especialmente en la zona serrana, pero hay una necesidad urgente de conducir mas estudios para determinar su estado actual.

The largest felid in the New World, the jaguar (Panthera onca) historically ranged from the southwestern United States to northern Argentina; however, habitat destruction and hunting have reduced its former range (Seymour, 1989) to less than 37% of its extent in ca. 1900 (Sanderson et al., 2002). In northwestern Mexico, it still occurs in the state of Sonora, where at least 3 sub-populations have been identied in recent years (Lopez-Gonza lez and Brown, 2002). Just south of Sonora and 500 km south of the USA-Mexico border, the state of Sinaloa constitutes the link between populations in Sonora and more southerly populations near the Mexican Pacic coast. Leopold (1959:529) reported that the highest densities of jaguars noted in the course of this

survey [of Mexican wildlife] were along the heavily forested atlands and foothills of southern Sinaloa, the swamps of coastal Nayarit, the remaining uncut forests along the Gulf coast as far east as central Campeche, and the great rain forests of northern Chiapas. It is a widespread belief that the range of the jaguar in Mexico has been reduced so much that it is only possible to nd important populations in the southeastern states (e.g., Tellez-Giron and Lopez-Forment, 1995; Aranda, 1996). Howev er, that belief possibly reects the lack of research and available information rather than the lack of jaguars, as was discussed during the last attempt to gather information on current distribution in 1999 during the Jaguar in the New Millennium workshop (Sanderson et al.,

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FIG. 1 Approximate locations of the recent records of jaguar (Panthera onca) obtained by us (black dots) and cities where interviews were made (open circles).

2002). It was shown at that workshop that in a large area of western Mexico, of which Sinaloa represented a considerable portion, the status of the jaguar remained largely unknown (Sanderson et al., 2002). The tropical deciduous forests that cover much of the sierras of Sinaloa are part of the 18% of the historic range of the jaguar on which its status remains unknown, and where the development of surveys is considered a priority (Sanderson et al., 2002). To better understand the current situation of the jaguar in Sinaloa, we undertook a series of eld trips, reviewed literature accounts of the species, and summarized published information (Appendix 1). We conducted 60 interviews opportunistically from the summer of 2000 to May 2002. Interviewees included local ranchers, local livestock association ofcials, hunting club members, and employees of local tanneries from those areas where jaguars were known or suspected to exist, especially in mountainous country. We tried to obtain physical records (photographs, skins, or bones) of hunted jaguars, as well as basic information regarding kill sites (such as location, date, and type of vegetation). We visited 8 towns and cities (El Fuerte, Badiraguato, San Ignacio, Concordia, Chupaderos, Copala, Mazatlan, and Teacapan; Fig. 1) and summarized previously published records from Sinaloa.

We obtained 57 records of individual jaguars, of which 41 are rst reported here (Appendix 1). Jaguar records were abundant in the southern half of the state. The local people considered the species a common and regular member of the local fauna throughout the mountainous sierra. The jaguar seems to be most common in the San Ignacio and Concordia municipalities; however, in those 2 municipalities the search effort was more extensive. More research is needed in northern Sinaloa. During the course of this survey, only 1 (possibly 2) records were found from higher elevations in oak-pine (Pinus-Quercus) forest and 1 record from riparian vegetation. Most occurrences were from the tropical deciduous forest that originally occupied most of the lowlands in the state and still covers much of the sierra. Tropical deciduous forest currently covers 40.09% of the area in the state, whereas oak and pine forests cover 14.71% of Sinaloa (INEGI, 2000). Today, most of the coastal plain (34.72% of Sinaloa) is being transformed for agriculture, aquaculture, or human settlement (INEGI, 2000), and few adequate habitat patches remain for jaguars there. However, 2 recent records occurred close to the coast, approximately 80 km north of the city of Mazatlan; one was within the Mesa de Cacaxtla Nat ural Protected Area. Although much impacted by aquaculture operations or human settlements, mangrove swamps still represent 7.36% of the area in the state (INEGI, 2000). Predation on livestock by jaguars seems to be a common event. Cattle traditionally are allowed to roam over vast expanses of land. Local ranchers kill jaguars regularly using different methods, including poison (strychnine), dogs, and steel traps, or by shooting whenever they have a chance encounter. Steel traps for large cats can be purchased readily (prices currently range from 400 to 600 pesos, about US$40 to US$60) at many local hardware stores, despite the fact that jaguars and mountain lions (Felis concolor) have been legally protected in Mexico since 1986 and are included in the Norma Ocial Mexicana (NOM-059ECOL-1994) (SEMARNAP, 1994), the federal list of protected animals and plants. In some areas, landowners pay bounties of up to 5,000 pesos (about US$500) for killing a troublesome jaguar in cattle areas or, in some places, for any jaguar. To determine whether a jaguar

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or a mountain lion killed cattle, ranchers observe where the predator started to eat the cow. Mountain lions kill cattle by biting the throat, producing asphyxia; they begin to eat the hindquarters and cover the carcass with branches and dirt. Jaguars kill by biting the cervical vertebrae or the skull. Jaguars drag their prey by the muzzle, which causes the tongue to protrude. Jaguars begin eating the tongue, the muscles of the chest, or the muscles of the face, and do not cover the carcass. Both felines remove the stomach and intestines. In 2 interviews, ranchers saw a jaguar eating a dead cow. These methods to identify which feline killed cattle also are used in Sonora (Brown and Lopez-Gonzalez, 2001). Whenever a tigre (jaguar) is killed, it is skinned and the hide normally is sold, usually to people from larger cities, such as Mazatlan, Concordia, Culiacan, and Escuinapa, or to tourists. Ranchers usually sell the skins for 1,500 to 3,000 pesos (about US$150 to 300). No evidence of current sport hunting of jaguars was found during this survey, but some might still occur. Extensive areas of tropical deciduous forest remain along the Sinaloan sierras. Densities of jaguar prey, such as armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), coatimundi (Nasua narica), collared peccary (Tayassu tajacu), and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), seemed to be high, according to most people, and free-ranging domestic animals were widespread. A new, undescribed population of European wild boar or feral hog (Sus scrofa) might be established in the Concordia municipality, as suggested by a set of tusks from the area. European wild boars were introduced into the buffer zone of La Michila Biosphere Reserve, Durango, in 1989 (Weber, 1995), about 160 km from Concordia. Hogs might provide jaguars another prey item, because jaguars frequently prey on several pig species, both wild and domestic (Leopold, 1959; Seymour, 1989; Brown and Lopez-Gon zalez, 2000). The widespread practice of drug harvest and trafc during recent years might have beneted jaguars, because fewer sport hunters and foreigners visit the area. A specimen (Fig. 2) hunted near Copala, in the municipality of Concordia, in the early 1990s, has unusually small, broken rosettes without interior spots. This variation is known as tigre pinta menuda, or small-spotted jag-

FIG. 2 Jaguar (Panthera onca) hunted near Copala, in the municipality of Concordia, in the early 1990s. This specimen might be 1 of the 2 tigre pinta menuda reported north of South America.

uar (Brown and Lopez-Gonzalez, 2001). This specimen and the 1 described by Alessio-Robles (2002) from Campeche are the only 2 such specimens reported north of South America. The abundance of recent records suggests that a jaguar population still exists in Sinaloa, especially throughout the sierra, and more surveys urgently are needed to better understand its current status.
We acknowledge the help of S. Vizcarra, S. Vizcarra, Jr., A. van der Heiden, H. Plascencia, A. van der Heiden, D. Castro, J. Calderon, E. Castro, A. Ruz Luna, and C. Puente, all of whom provided valuable information and assistance in the eld. V. Gehrmann created the map. C. J. Navarro took the photograph of the tigre pinta menuda (Fig. 2). Part of this study was supported by grants from the Northern Jaguar Project and the Minority International Research Training University of California Santa Cruz Centro de Investigacion en Alimenta cion y Desarrollo, Unidad Guaymas. The manuscript improved thanks to the help of D. Valenzuela.

LITERATURE CITED
ALESSIO-ROBLES, M. 2002. Un jaguar en el Silencio. Estafeta. Impresos Naucalpan. San Andres Atoto Numero 12. Colonia San Andres Atoto. Mexico D. F., 53500, Mexico. ARANDA, M. 1996. Distribucion y abundancia del jag uar, Panthera onca (Carnivora: Felidae) en el es-

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tado de Chiapas, Mexico. Acta Zoologica Mexi cana 68:4552. ARMSTRONG, D. M., J. K. JONES, JR., AND E. C. BIRNEY. 1972. Mammals from the Mexican state of Sinaloa. III. Carnivora and Artiodactyla. Journal of Mammalogy 53:4861. BROWN, D. E., AND C. A. LOPEZ-GONZALEZ. 2000. Notes on the occurrences of jaguars in Arizona and New Mexico. Southwestern Naturalist 45: 537546. BROWN, D. E., AND C. A. LOPEZ-GONZALEZ. 2001. Borderland jaguars. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City. INSTITUTO NACIONAL DE ESTADSTICA GEOGRAFA E IN FORMATICA (INEGI). 2000. Anuario estadstico del estado de Sinaloa, Mexico. www.inegi.gob.mx (Accessed: July 2000). LEOPOLD, A. S. 1959. Wildlife of Mexico. University of California Press, Berkeley. LOPEZ-GONZALEZ, C. A., AND D. E. BROWN. 2002. Distribucion y estado de conservacion actuales del jaguar en el noroeste de Mexico. In: R. A. Me delln, C. Equihua, C. L. B. Chetkiewicz, P. G. Crawshaw, A. Rabinowitz, K. H. Redford, J. G. Robinson, E. Sanderson, and A. Taber, compilers. El jaguar en el nuevo milenio. Fondo de Cultura Economica Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico Wildlife Conservation Society. Mexico, D. F. Pp. 379391. LOPEZ-GONZALEZ, C. A., D. E. BROWN, AND G. LORENZANA. 2000. El jaguar en Sonora, desapareciendo o solamente desconocido? Especies. Revista sobre Conservacion y Biodiversidad. 9(3): 1923. MCCURDY, R. 1981. Life of the greatest guide; hound stories and others of Dale Lee. Blue River Graphics, Phoenix, Arizona. SANDERSON, E. W., C. L. B. CHETKIEWICZ, R. A. MEDELLN, A. RABINOWITZ, K. H. REDFORD, J. G. ROB INSON, AND A. B. TABER. 2002. Prioridades geogracas para la conservacion del jaguar. In: R. A. Medelln, C. Equihua, C. L. B. Chetkiewicz, P. G. Crawshaw, A. Rabinowitz, K. H. Redford, J. G. Robinson, E. Sanderson, and A. Taber, compilers. El jaguar en el nuevo milenio. Fondo de Cultura Economica Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico Wildlife Conservation Society. Mexico, D. F. Pp. 601628. SECRETARA DEL MEDIO AMBIENTE RECURSOS NATURA LES Y PESCA (SEMARNAP). 1994. Norma Ocial Mexicana NOM-059-ECOL-1994, que determina las especies y subespecies de Flora y Fauna silvestres terrestres y acuaticas en peligro de extincion, amenazadas, raras y las sujetas a proteccion es pecial y que establece especicaciones para su proteccion. Diario Ocial de la Federacio n. www.semarnat.gob.mx (Accessed: July 2000).

SEYMOUR, K. L. 1989. Panthera onca. Mammalian Species 340:19. TELLEZ-GIRON, G., AND W. LOPEZ-FORMENT. 1995. Panthera onca veracrucis (Carnivora: Felidae) en Queretaro, Mexico. Revista Mexicana de Masto zoologa 1:7375. WEBER, M. 1995. La introduccion del jabal europeo en la Reserva de la Biosfera La Michila, Duran go: implicaciones ecologicas y epidemiologicas. Revista Mexicana de Mastozoologa 1:6973. Submitted 7 March 2003. Accepted 5 July 2004. Associate Editor was Cheri A. Jones. APPENDIX 1 Records of jaguar from Sinaloa, Mexico, in reverse chronological order (1857 through 2002). We have included the date of the kill, location (geographic coordinates are approximate), biotic community, sex (if known), documentation, and citation, if the record was previously published. JULY 2002, Concordia municipality, tropical deciduous forest, female and cub (sex unknown), hunted by local ranchers (A. van der Heiden, pers. comm., 2002). MAY 2002, between Rancho Coyote and Magistral, Concordia municipality (23 21 49 N, 106 59 45 W), tropical deciduous forest, sex unknown, dead livestock seen by local ranchers and positively identied as jaguar kill. APRIL 2002, Los Llanitos, ca. 2 km from El Marmol, Mazatlan mu nicipality (23 32 19 N, 106 35 58 W), tropical deciduous forest, sex unknown, hunted by local people (A. Ruz-Luna, pers. comm., May 2002). APRIL 2002, ca. San Juan, San Ignacio municipality (23 56 43 N, 106 20 15 W), tropical deciduous forest, sex unknown, dead livestock seen by local ranchers and positively identied as jaguar kill. MARCH 2002, Dos Arroyos, Badiraguato municipality (25 16 32 N, 107 24 47 W), tropical deciduous forest, sex unknown, hunted by local rancher. MARCH 2002, Magistral, Concordia municipality (23 21 41 N, 106 59 16 W), tropical deciduous forest, young individual stoned to death by local ranchers, sex unknown. MARCH 2002, El Habal, ca. Copala, Concordia municipality (23 23 58 N, 105 56 07 W), tropical deciduous forest, sex unknown, hunted by local rancher. 19982002, Concordia municipality, tropical deciduous forest, skins of 4 individuals seen by us at Mazatlan, sexes unknown. SUMMER 2001, San Isidro Ranch, Concordia municipality (23 21 51 N, 105 59 59 W), tropical deciduous forest, male (?), footprints seen by local rancher. DECEMBER 2001, La Laguna, ca. Durango Ranch, Concordia municipality (23 20 57 N, 105 54 14 W), tropical deciduous forest, female (?), poisoned by local ranchers. NOVEMBER 2001, Rancho Coyote, Concordia municipality (23 21 54 N, 105 59 58 W), tropical deciduous forest, sex unknown, heard by local ranchers.

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Killed a goat at the ranch that night. FALL 2001, southern Sinaloa, male and female, captive cubs in private home (A. van der Heiden, pers. comm., 2002). 2001, Coacoyol, San Ignacio municipality (23 57 42 N, 106 29 34 W), tropical deciduous forest, sex unknown, shot by local rancher as livestock-killer. 2001, Mesa de Cacaxtla, San Ignacio municipality (23 39 38 N, 106 42 59 W), tropical deciduous forest, sex unknown, hunted by local ranchers. 2001, Sahuitapa, ca. San Ignacio, San Ignacio municipality (24 00 00 N, 106 29 47 W), tropical deciduous forest, 2 individuals shot by local ranchers, sexes unknown. SUMMER 2000, Cerro El Pirame, Concordia municipality (23 21 50 N, 105 59 56 W), tropical deciduous forest, male shot by local rancher as livestockkiller. Skull collected and deposited at Centro de Investigacio en Alimentacio y Desarrollo, Guaymas n n collection (CIAD-070502-1). SUMMER 2000, El Tule, San Ignacio municipality (23 49 36 N, 106 25 32 W), tropical deciduous forest, 2 individuals separately shot by local ranchers while feeding on dead cows, 1 male and an individual of unknown sex. LATE 2000, ca. Coyotitan, San Ignacio municipality (23 47 53 N, 106 34 58 W), tropical deciduous forest, sex unknown, killed by car while crossing the road at night, skin in possession of the former mayor of San Ignacio. 2000, Coacoyol, San Ignacio municipality (23 57 42 N, 106 29 34 W), tropical deciduous forest, sex unknown, shot by local rancher. 1999, Cerro El Elefante, Concordia municipality (23 19 00 N, 105 59 58 W), tropical deciduous forest, sexes unknown, 2 cubs captured alive by local rancher. 1992, ca. Mesillas, Concordia municipality (23 17 44 N, 106 04 13 W), tropical deciduous forest, male, attracted by commercial predator-call tape and shot as livestock killer, skin seen by us in Concordia. EARLY 1990s, ca. Copala, Concordia municipality (23 23 58 N, 105 56 00 W), tropical deciduous forest, sex unknown, skin seen by us in Copala. 1990, Baroten, ca. 3.5 Km S of El Fuerte, El Fuerte munic ipality (26 23 45 N, 108 35 55 W), riparian vegetation along El Fuerte river, sex unknown, hunted by local people and seen by local veterinarian. LATE 1980s, EARLY 1990s. El Tule, ca. Escuinapa, Escuinapa municipality, tropical deciduous forest, sexes unknown, 3 individuals seen on different occasions quietly following people along forest trails at night.

1980s, ca. Los Angeles ranch, Escuinapa municipality (22 39 56 N, 105 48 14 W), tropical deciduous forestmangrove swamps, sexes unknown, 3 individuals hunted by local people, skins seen by us. 1970s. Playa Brujas, ca. 23 km NW of Mazatlan, Mazatlan munici pality, tropical deciduous forest, 1 individual of unknown sex seen walking on the beach. 1962, Sierra Madre NE of Matantan near the DurangoSinaloa boundary, oak-pine forest (?), sex unknown, skull of individual shot purchased in Rosario (Armstrong et al., 1972). 1960s, Sierra de Surutato, Badiraguato municipality (25 48 37 N, 107 33 28 W), oak-pine forest, male, dead individual seen by the president of the Badiraguato local livestock association. 1940s, NE of San Ignacio, San Ignacio municipality, tropical deciduous forest, male shot by hunting party (McCurdy, 1981). PRIOR TO 1959, near Santiago, San Ignacio municipality, tropical deciduous forest, male (?), shot by sport hunters (Leopold, 1959). PRIOR TO 1959, vicinity of San Ignacio, San Ignacio municipality, tropical deciduous forest, sex unknown (Leopold, 1959). 1937 or 1938, Mesa de Platanos, San Ignacio munic ipality, tropical deciduous forest, male and female, 2 individuals shot by hunting party (McCurdy, 1981). SUMMER 1935 or 1936, Los Frailes, San Ignacio municipality, tropical deciduous forest, male shot by hunting party (McCurdy, 1981). 1935 or 1936, San Juan, 10 miles S of San Ignacio, San Ignacio municipality, tropical deciduous forest, 2 females shot by hunting party (McCurdy, 1981). PRIOR TO 1933, Escuinapa, Escuinapa municipality, tropical deciduous forest, sex unknown (Nelson and Goldman, 1933, as reported by Armstrong et al. 1972). 19051906, Escuinapa, Escuinapa municipality, tropical deciduous forest, 1 male, 3 females, and 1 immature female ( J. H. Batty, as reported by Brown and Lopez-Gonzalez, 2001). 1901, Escuinapa, Escui napa municipality, tropical deciduous forest, male ( J. H. Batty, as reported by Brown and Lopez-Gon zalez, 2001). Prior to 1901, Cacalotan, Rosario mu nicipality, tropical deciduous forest, sex unknown (Mearns, 1901, as reported by Armstrong et al. 1972). 1857, Mazatlan, tropical deciduous forest, sex un known, type specimen of Panthera onca hernandesii (Gray, 1858, as reported by Armstrong et al. 1972).

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