Discover how a camera not only captures the intimate life of a Trogon bird species, but also protects against illegal hunting and environmental damage
Reclusive and seldom seen, two Mountain Trogons (Trogon mexicanus) were photographed near El Cañón del Fresno Reserve in central Mexico supported by World Land Trust (WLT).
The Trogon family is made up of 39 bird species, but their numbers are decreasing through loss of forest trees in which to build their nests. Trogon is Greek for ‘nibbling’ and the family owes this name to the fact that all Trogons peck holes in trees to make their nests. Built in the cavities of rotting stumps, the nests can be as low down as 50 centimetres from the forest floor.
Reserve ranger Abel Reséndiz works for our partner Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda (GESG) and he spotted the two nests while on patrol. As Abel does not yet have a camera he alerted Roberto Pedraza (technical advisor for GESG) who was immediately out in the reserve aiming to get photographs. Although one of the birds posed willingly for Roberto’s camera, it is hard to distinguish the species from the photograph as the distinctive tail is tucked out of sight.
Roberto explained how forest clearance threatens these birds:
“Trogons love and need old half-rotten trunks to nest, so it is quite important to keep those logs standing as these guys and many other species depend on them for nesting.”
Rangers stop logging and hunting to protect species
To help safeguard the reserves, WLT launched the Keepers of the Wild programme in 2011 to provide much needed equipment and to put more rangers in the field, like Abel who regularly patrols the reserve to protect it from environmental damage and illegal hunting. Abel explained:
“I feel proud of my work because we are protecting special places that use to be under pressure and suffering destruction from logging, ranching, frequent wildfires and poachers.”
Providing Abel with crucial equipment helps him with this difficult work; a camera for example would not only allow him to take photographs of rare animals but also of illegal logging or hunting that he encounters on his patrols in the forests. This would allow him to record these threats to the reserve’s habitat and wildlife, while avoiding confrontation.
“Sometimes it is hard when we work in an area where everybody knows you”, said Abel. “They might be neighbours, friends or even relatives, so you have to be careful when finding illegal activities in the reserves and must be sensitive in how we deal with it.”
Local community support
All the rangers are employed from the surrounding communities, providing local people with a secure job and regular income. The rangers are passionate about their work protecting their natural environment and work closely with local communities to raise awareness and encourage them to get involved in conservation work.
Abel shows local people the work that GESG does and they often help him patrol the vast area of the reserve:
“I am in charge of many different reserves,” said Abel, “which means a large area to patrol so sometimes we ask other people that live nearer to the reserves to help. We use horses or we hike to access some of the reserves and it can be a whole day ride or hike. The Sierra is not easy terrain and it’s big!”
Local people’s hands-on experience strengthens their commitment to protecting vulnerable species and threatened habitats and our rangers become conservation ambassadors within the community.