The Calakmul Biosphere Reserve was originally set aside as a jaguar reserve. It boasts the largest and healthiest jaguar population north of the Amazon. Which is probably why it was chosen by the Direccion General de Vida Silvestre and SEMARNAT to host a controversial jaguar release project that has already claimed the life of the younger of the two jaguars. The young jaguar had been taken from the wild at less than a year of age, and had never learned to hunt.
Several people, including Mauro, had warned the reserve that this jaguar was not going to make it. Yet, in the same way that planting a tree is a great political move with little follow up, releasing a jaguar can make for a photo op, with few people finding out when it later dies.
During the preparations for the release, there was a large logistical meeting where each organization involved decided what their contribution would be. Attending the meeting was The Jaguar Man, a turrets-afflicted ex-jaguar poacher who I have yet to meet and probably never will, though I've heard so much about him that I feel like I know him.
Unbeknownst to Mauro, The Jaguar Man's contribution at the meeting was a place to stay for the volunteer who would be tracking the jaguar - Mauro's place.
All of which made it kind of awkward when two American jaguar researchers came knocking at our door on our first night in Zolaguna. In really good Spanish, except for the occasional English "Wow," the older one explained that Brett was a volunteer helping with the GPS and radio tracking of a released jaguar and needed a place to stay. We soon realized that they had no idea that about what had happened, and Mauro ended up agreeing to let Brett stay as long as he helped out with the bills.
* The Jaguar Man's real name is withheld because of ethics... stupid ethics :)