The Animal Wonders Of Jalisco
By Isabel Orendain
Directora del Museo de Paleontología de Guadalajara
Any given day in this area we may see different insects, reptiles and birds; but there are also wild mammals that are elusive and hide from us. Once, when I was around six years old, at my grandparent’s home on the shore of Chapala, I found what I confused for a small sleepy dog, and was actually an opossum. When they saw me carrying it, my parents became frantic. I just let it slip from my arms, and he ran away without doing me any harm. Now that I have seen them in photographs, I wonder how it was possible to mistake it for a dog, but I did.
The variety of wild mammals that live in the hills of Chapala area is huge and I did not know about it. Now, thanks to the project e-Mammal International, we have photographs of some of those animals that live here. These findings made me write this article so readers of El Ojo del Lago learn about the project too. I hope that to learn about their presence and importance for the ecosystem will mean we can take positive actions to preserve the environment and contribute to their well being.
E-Mammal International was made possible through a grant from Museums Connect (2014), a program that promotes understanding among people from the US and other countries through cultural and scientific exchanges. The project consisted of setting camera traps which are sensitive to movement to photograph, in this case, wild mammals. A group of kids from Club Person AS, dedicated to intellectually gifted children, was in charge of setting a camera in the hills of Ajijic. The aim was fostering in them the scientific knowledge through analysis of the photographs obtained: identification, diurnal or nocturnal habits, food chain, distribution of mammals in the area, etc.
The photographs are uploaded to the e-Mammal platform, where the kids have to check what kind of mammal was photographed; also this information will be reviewed by the Smithsonian Institute, in order to obtain accurate data on the presence of these animals in different regions of the world.
In Chapala, the camera was set from January 16 to April 30. Since the first day we got wonderful results as there were photos of foxes, two different species of skunks, squirrels, one or two jaguarondis, many opossums, a coyote, ringtails, a puma. The puma appeared at the end of April, and remained in the area for about two weeks. Where the camera was set there were no photographs of deer or wild boars. If you would like to see more photographs, come visit the exhibition “Mamíferos de Jalisco” at Museo de Paleontología de Guadalajara (Av. Dr. R. Michel 520, Esq. Calz. González Gallo). Or watch the video on YouTube, done by Eduardo Oropeza https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1JEisLRg4Y Hopefully, in the following months the exhibition can be brought to Chapala for more people to enjoy it. Jalisco, due to its geographical location, is full of flora and fauna, and the Chapala lake area is a good example of it. A good book to learn about this richness is John Pint`s Outdoors in Western Mexico 2.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com