Tracking Life On The U.S.-Mexico Border


PATAGONIA, Arizona – The Madrean Sky Islands are a cluster of more than 60 high-elevation mountains rising out of lowland valleys running from southern Arizona and New Mexico into Mexico. Home to 7,000 species, many endangered, researchers call it one of the most biodiverse areas in North America. If President Donald Trump's long-touted campaign promise of a "big, beautiful" border wall were to come to fruition the existence of some of the zone's rarest species — jaguars, ocelots, Mexican gray wolves — would be jeopardized. Researchers say they don't quite know the extent of the damage that could occur, but researchers at the Sky Island Alliance are working to find out by tracking species with motion sensor cameras along the border.


Megan Janetsky/Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting 

Wildlife trackers Bryon Lichtenhan and Kelly Haven examine a map, trying to locate cameras placed along the U.S.-Mexico border to track animal migration on October 12, 2017 in Patagonia, Arizona.   ···  
Bryon Lichtenhan, Scott Wilbor and Kelly Haven (left to right) walk along a trail to cameras placed along U.S.-Mexico border used to track animal migration on October 12, 2017 in Patagonia, Arizona.   ···  
Vehicle barriers, fencing constructed to stop cars from driving through the terrain, make up 49 percent of the Arizona-Mexico border. Wildlife can generally pass through this kind of border structure because it is "permeable." Other barriers like pedestri   ···  
Wildlife trackers with the Sky Island Alliance find a camera placed along the the United States-Mexico border to track animal migration in southeastern Arizona on October 12, 2017.   ···  
David Lichtenhan tests a motion sensor camera along the U.S.-Mexico border in southeastern Arizona on October 12, 2017.   ···  
After finding the paw print of a large cat in the sand, wildlife trackers Kelly Haven and David Lichtenhan search for more along a river bank, an area often used by wildlife as a pathway for migration, in southeastern Arizona on October 13, 2017.   ···  
Border fencing runs along the southern Patagonia mountains, cutting the diverse wildlife habitat in half.   ···  
Wildlife trackers David Lichtenhan and Kelly Haven joke as they check their last motion sensor camera of the day in southeastern Arizona on October 13, 2017. The group trekked along the Sky Island region of the border for nearly 10 hours to check cameras.   ···  
David Lichtenhan keys through photos captured by a motion sensor camera along the U.S.-Mexico border on October 12, 2017 in the southeastern Arizona wilderness. He looks for photos of endangered and rare species that roam the region like ocelots, jaguars,   ···  
Among the species captured by the Sky Island Alliance camera on October 13, 2017 is a photo of a javelina roaming through the grasses at night.   ···  
Kelly Haven, a resident of Patagonia, Arizona, takes a picture of the sprawling grass fields of the Sky Island region of Arizona on October 13, 2017. The area is one of the most diverse in North America and among the ones that would be most heavily impact   ···  
Kelly Haven looks out at the mountains and fields of the Sky Island region of southeastern Arizona on October 13, 2017.   ···  
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