Four and a half years after their rescue in Calakmul, Campeche, the female jaguars nicknamed as Nicté Ha and Celestún Petén, returned to run free in the jungle, after being subjected to ambitious breeding, rehabilitation, and adaptation program.
When the two little sisters were found lost in the Ejido Centauros del Norte in October 2016, with their mother nowhere to be found, they were barely 20 days old.
The prognoses for the offspring were not encouraging, since they only weighed 600 grams and presented a serious state of dehydration, so the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (Conanp), entrusted their health to a team of veterinarians of the organization “Yaguar Xoo”. Extreme care measures had to be taken to stabilize them.
After 15 days of recovery and a considerable weight gain, the young females were transferred to the state of Oaxaca, where the Jaguares en la Selva Foundation designed an entire care protocol, which from the beginning had as its goal the return of Nicté Ha and Celestún Petén to their natural habitat.
One of the first actions to achieve their diet without human interaction was to create a jaguar belly simulator where they would be able to be nursed their milk formula.
The simulator built by Mexican engineers had six nipples, three with milk and three without milk. The objective was to stimulate competition for the tit as it happens in nature.
“Our jaguar belly simulator was doused with natural scents taken from the enclosure of Hada, one of our adult female jaguars at the time. In total, we created three different belly simulators, today they are a beautiful memory ready to attend to future cases if necessary”, explained Jaguares en la Selva.
On the morning of November 14, 2020, the “golden goddesses”, now turned into two beautiful juvenile specimens, traveled in a plane of the Secretariat of the Navy (Semar), from Oaxacan lands to the Cancun Airport, Quintana Roo, in search of freedom.
Upon arriving at the air terminal, the sisters were transferred by truck and then by canoe to a natural area in the north of the Yucatan Peninsula, where they received four months of adaptation in semi-captivity conditions inside a Wildlife Simulator.
“These facilities were built in the midst of spectacular wetlands and flooded forest that make up an important biological corridor,” detailed the civil society organization.
In this last stage of their rehabilitation, the two majestic specimens received the last lessons so that they could return with their own, which represents a valuable genetic contribution for the wild jaguar populations of the Mexican southeast.
On December 15, 2020, GPS collars were placed on the jaguars, to ensure that they could hunt, swim, dive without problems, while providing a large amount of scientific data through their satellite signal, after their release.
The collars have a DROP-OFF system so they are programmed to automatically fall off on a specific date.
In videos of the group, it can be seen how Nicté Ha hunted a collared peccary (Pecari tajacu) in January, showing that she and her sister are ready to fend for themselves in freedom and with their GPS on their necks.
After the “golden goddesses” returned to their natural habitat this Thursday, March 11, it is expected that they will soon adapt, find a partner and be able to have offspring, which would close a virtuous circle for an endangered species, thanks to a successful conservation program, from Oaxaca to the world.
“It’s done. This morning Nicté Ha and Celestún Petén returned to nature as part of our genetic reinforcement program for populations of wild jaguars in Mexico, a species classified as Endangered by the Official Mexican Standard 059.
These two released jaguars have opened up new opportunities for other rescued jaguars and neotropical cats with genetic viability to be released to the wild, “wrote the Fundación Jaguares en la Selva.