Installing and monitoring artificial water sources to help endangered species in the Maya forest, Mexico

A South African Tapir stands in ankle deep water and looks towards the left.

Situated at the base of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve (CBR) spans 1.8 million acres of Mesoamerica’s Maya forest and is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, such as the iconic and threatened Central American tapir, white-lipped peccary, ornate hawk-eagle, and the second-largest jaguar population on the continent. In recent years however, changes in precipitation patterns, including prolonged drought, have depleted freshwater reserves posing an immediate threat to wildlife.

The main objective of this project is to reduce the vulnerability to drought of populations of endangered species in the Maya Forest by managing artificial water sources during the dry season and evaluating the use of these resources in the CBR. To alleviate water scarcity, researchers from WWF and Mexico’s National Commission for Natural Protected Areas will identify critical areas in the CBR that are affected by drought through remote sensing, expand the coverage of artificial water sources to critical sites in the CBR, fit and monitor two white-lipped peccaries and two tapirs with GPS collars to determine their use of and dependence on artificial water sources, and monitor the artificial water sources with camera traps to characterize the diversity of species that benefit from them.