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Profiles

Peter “Ole” Alcumbrac is the Director of Wildlife Health Services, which specializes in immobilization and capture of native and exotic species. He provides clinical and consultation services for private and public collections. As a Consulting Veterinarian for the Arizona Game & Fish Department, the New Mexico Game and Fish Department, the White Mountain Apache Tribe and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Dr. Alcumbrac has led the Mexican Wolf Project, the Sonoran Pronghorn Antelope Recovery Team and multiple wildlife disease studies. Since 1992, Dr. Alcumbrac has owned and operated a mixed animal and exotic practice in Arizona with a staff of five veterinarians for the Phoenix Zoo and the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum; he is a recipient of the Award of Excellence from the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. Dr. Alcumbrac serves as an Instructor of Veterinary Sciences at Northland Pioneer College and is an Adjunct Professor at Texas Tech University. Ole is an integral member of Team Sonora Jaguar Project since the idea of conservation of jaguar in Mexico gained momentum 5 years ago; he recently developed the program’s organizational diagram and continues to investigate coverage and funding regarding filming and writing venues having experience in mass-communication and media coverage. He is co-author of Chemical Immobilization Protocol for Capture and Release of Jaguars and Pumas by Ivonne Cassaigne and Ole Alcumbrac in the organization’s grant proposal referenced on this website.

Ivonne Cassaigne is a founding and present member of the Board of Directors of Primero Conservation Inc., and the Mexico Coordinator of Team Sonora Jaguar Project. She received a degree in Veterinary Medicine and a Master of Science degree in Animal Health from UNAM, Mexico City, Mexico. She is a faculty member of Medicina Veterinia y Zootechnia, UNAM and pursuing her PhD with her thesis directed by PhD Rodrigo Medellin at the Institute of Ecology, UNAM. She has a prior thesis and publications that encompass epizootics, population dynamics, and diseases of bighorn sheep, mountain sheep, and tigers. She has worked as a veterinarian on captive breeding and conservation of mountain lions, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn in the United States and Mexico. She was elected 2010-2013 to the Council board of Wild Felid Association. She is the director of Wildlife Health Services in Latin America as Wildlife Pharmaceuticals, Mexico, S.A. and specializes in immobilization and capture of native species and developing immobilization drugs cooperatively with biologists and veterinarians on both sides of the international border. She is co-author of Chemical Immobilization Protocol for Capture and Release of Jaguars and Pumas by Ivonne Cassaigne and Ole Alcumbrac that appears in primary grant proposal referenced on this website. She works diligently to ensure the survival of jaguar on UMA Sonora and is facilitating the incorporation of UMA Jaguar Conservation Program of the High Sierra of Sonora Mexico’s new nonprofit.

Jack L. Childs, hounds man and tracker, became interested in jaguar research and conservation after he and his wife, Anna Mary, had an encounter with a jaguar in the mountains of southeastern Arizona in 1996.  This life changing event resulted in his participation in jaguar research in Arizona, the Pantanal region of Brazil and the Sierra Madre Mountains of Sonora, Mexico.  He authored a tracking guide, Tracking the Felids of the Borderlands in 1998.  Jack and Anna Mary founded the Borderland Jaguar Detection Project in 2001 and conducted jaguar surveillance and research for the Arizona-New Mexico Jaguar Conservation Team from 1997 to 2009.  In 2008 they coauthored Ambushed on the Jaguar Trail: Hidden Cameras on the Mexican Border. He has conducted over 150 lectures on wildlife and wildlife research throughout Arizona and New Mexico to agencies, students and civic groups. Jack and Anna Mary live in a country home near Amado in southeastern Arizona. Jack is currently a field work coordinator and data analyst for a 3 year jaguar surveying and monitoring project along the U. S. Mexico border in southern Arizona and New Mexico using remote sensing cameras.  He also is active in Primero Conservation as a data analyst and consultant for their camera projects in Sonora, Mexico. Jack co-authored: Harris Grant, Thompson Ron, Childs Jack L., Sanderson James G. Automatic Storage and Analysis of Camera Trap Data. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America. July 2010.

Melanie Culver is Assistant Professor in the Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and an Assistant Unit Leader in Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, School of Natural Resources & Environment, University of Arizona/USGS. She earned her PhD at the University of Maryland. Dr Culver’s expertise is molecular taxonomy, molecular ecology, relatedness, non-invasive and ancient DNA. Dr Culver has 31 Professional Publications, co-authored one book, and has 8 papers in preparation. She recently completed projects in Florida Panther population’s size, Powell River mussel, and Muskellunge; ongoing projects include Florida Panther DNA from scats, AZ black bear conservation, Grand Canyon and southwest National Parks carnivores, eastern Salamander gene sequencing, southern Rocky Mts water shrew, and Verde River crayfish. She was elected (2009-2013) to the Council board of Wild Felid Association. Dr Culver is on the faculty of UA Wild Cat Center for research and conservation. She participates in the Sonora Project as DNA expert investigator for scat analysis to identify jaguar and puma species, individuals, and prey selection from field samples.

Susan Dieterich is a founding and present member of the Board of Directors of Primero Conservation Inc. and the US Coordinator for the Team. She was Incorporator of the nonprofit; designed the website with godaddy.com Dream Design team; and serves as Webmaster. A graduate of St Paul’s, she used her surgical nursing degree in general, orthopedic, plastic-reconstructive surgery, and burn triage. Human medicine for 12 years fed her career as veterinary technician for her family Surgical Clinic and teaching applied sciences. She founded Frisco Creek Wildlife nonprofit in Colorado and ran it for 25 yrs. Caring for all species, she was best known for success with moose, black bears, mountain lions, and bobcats released to the wild. The facility was exclusive medical and surgical housing for the Colorado Lynx Reintroduction Program. She has 19 publications and hosted Necropsy Workshops annually for Colorado Division of Wildlife, subsequently employed by them prior to selling the facility to the Department of Natural Resources. Currently she travels as a wildlife consultant for US and international conservation projects in Hawaii, Central and South America. She is a technical assistant to jaguar and puma studies in the southwest US and northern Mexico.

Manuel Galaz Galaz has been a vaquero on most of the ranches that surround Nacori Chico, Sonora, Mexico who’s obvious promise as a biological technician was first identified when he offered to show Dr. Octavio Rosas Rosas jaguar sign along the Rio Aros in 2005. Memo’s ability to live and work in the harsh thornscrub without injury for almost 30 days at a time is remarkable in itself. His real talent though is his ability to read sign left by all the animals making a living in the thornscrub. Memo has been the primary person for the success of two significant biological studies on jaguars and camera trapping. He has captured jaguars over 75 times with his cameras and documented the first ever female with a cub. Senor Gales Gales is a natural naturalist and knows the names of all the plants, birds, and animals living in the Rio Aros river basin. His ability to get along with all individuals from the local vaquero who respect his cow sense and horsemanship to the profession scientist. It has been said, “ Memo is the glue that binds the UMA conservation activities in the field.” With the Jaguar Project he currently maintains 40 cameras on-site with a proposal goal to deploy a total of 200 for investigation over a 5 – 6 year study.

Rodrigo Medellin is Professor in the Department of Biodiversity and Ecology in the Institute of Ecology UNAM. He received his PhD in Philosophy from the School of Forest Resources and Conservation University of Florida. Rodrigo Medellin has studied and worked on the conservation of mammals and birds for over 35 years. Along these years, he has created or contributed to create many institutions, among which are the Mexican Society of Mammalogists, the Program for Conservation of Mexican Bats, and BIOCONCIENCIA, an NGO dedicated to protecting and studying mammals in Mexico. He is generous with his time and is always ready to help students (his own and others') and colleagues from Mexico or any other country. His influence reaches all continents and he is currently directing theses or carrying out research in 15 countries of 4 continents. His interests are broad and diverse, always along the common thread of biodiversity conservation in harmony with human wellbeing. His commitment to conservation is indicated not only by his research and students graduated from his lab, but also by his impact on the decision-making process in Mexico and abroad. From creating protocols to integrate federally protected species lists to creating new protected areas and working for Multilateral Environmental Agreements such as CITES, his influence on policy making for conservation is wide, rich, and long-lasting. Dr. Medellin is (2011-2013) President Elect of the Society for Conservation Biology. He is author of the Social Component of the primary project proposal referenced on this website. Responding to, “who are we as a project Team”; Rodrigo from a science-humanitarian bias succinctly expresses, “I believe we are a group of conservation professionals fully committed to biodiversity conservation in the context of social and economic development in northern Mexico. The jaguar to me is the spearhead…”

Jesus Moreno Martinez studied Law and is a successful businessman. Jesus is the president of 2 UMAs: Private Refuge for Wild Jaguar (Refugio Privado deJaguar Silvestre) and Conservation of Jaguar in the High Mountains of Sonora (Conservacion del jaguar en la Sierra Alta de Sonora). These UMAs are composed of a group of 8 landowners of 11 ranches. Jesus and other ranchers produce cattle and bacanora (agave-derived liquor made in the Mexican state of Sonora); its origins are pre-colonial. Cattle has been a family business for many generations. He is open to receive architectural design intern concepts for the proposed Biological Research Station and Jesus prioritizes UMA Sonora’s other objectives to be predation studies, increasing natural prey, cattle management practices, and biological research on jaguars and pumas. For more… UMA.

Jim Sanderson is a Faculty member of UA Wild Cat Center for research and conservation and Founder and Director of Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation. He received a PhD in Mathematics from the University of New Mexico and a PhD equivalent from the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida. His publications include author and co-author of 5 books, 8 book chapters, 3 book reviews, 49 journal articles, and 5 other publications. Dr. Sanderson is a member of Sigma Xi, of the Feline Conservation Federation, IUCN Cat Specialist [Core] Group, and Fellow of the Wildlife Conservation Network. His research interests are camera data systems, mountain lions in the southwest United States, and international projects investigating the Andean cat, fishing cat, Chinese mountain cat, guina, margay, ocelot, jaguarundi, Pallas’ Cat, and Borneo bay cat. His current interests include analysis of species co-occurrences on islands and gradients; ecology, biology, and conservation of small wild cats, and camera photo-trapping for surveying, monitoring, and population estimates. As a tireless working Team member Jim has spent countless hours processing thousands of camera-trap photos and identified jaguar and ocelot individuals on UMA Sonora coordinating with the biological technician Memo from Rancho Napopa. Dr Sanderson continues to work on incoming data as well as for the acquisition of additional camera traps for the Project.

Nick Smith is a founding and present member of the Board of Directors of Primero Conservation Inc. He retired from 26 years with New Mexico Department of Game and Fish having served as a game warden, habitat specialist, wolf biologist, and certified law enforcement officer. He invented a system for packing in wolves in pack panniers and used the technique often for the USFWS during the translocation of wolves into the Gila Wilderness. He has worked extensively to restore native trout in the Gila River system. He conducted fish surveys and collections of native catfish of the Pacific slope in Sonora, Chihuahua, Durango and Sinaloa, Mexico. He has more than 30 years of capture and handling experience with mountain lions, black bears, bobcats, and coyotes; has handled endangered species wolf and desert bighorn sheep; has dealt extensively with depredation on domestic livestock by mountain lion, black bear, wolf, and recently jaguar. He is a second-generation houndsman and has worked on puma research projects in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico. Currently he has contracts with NM Game & Fish and USFWS in backcountry using mules for wolf and Gila trout work. He currently works as a Team member with UMAs (Wildlife Management Units) of northern Sonora studying and collecting data to facilitate jaguar conservation with landowners.

Ron Thompson is the Statutory Agent and member of the Board of Directors of Primero Conservation Inc. A graduate of the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology, Ron has worked as a wildlife biologist and range conservationist for the US Forest Service. Currently he is working as a technician for Sul Ross State University and is a Masters of Science candidate in the Natural Resources Management graduate school under Dr. Louis Harveson. His most recent position was the statewide big game habitat manager and large carnivore biologist for mountain lions and black bears for the Game Branch of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Ron has worked as a contract biologist capturing and radio collaring mountain lions for research projects in the Tucson area and on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. As a past biologist for the Turner Endangered Species Fund he assisted with a project to restore a sub-population of desert bighorn sheep on a private ranch near Engle, NM through the application of an adaptive management strategy for mountain lions. For the past 5 years he has been working with private ranch owners in Sonora, Mexico within an established jaguar conservation area. In Sonora his conservation efforts were directed at utilizing working landscapes in the presence of livestock and sustainable wildlife resources to better protect jaguars. Ron is a founding member of the governing Council for the Wild Felid Research and Management Association and the Cougar Working Group for the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

Raul Valdez is Professor of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Ecology in the Department of Fishery and Wildlife Sciences, New Mexico State University. He received his PhD. Dr Valdez has devoted more than 30 career years to teaching and research at NMSU. Prior to this he was an Instructor at Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University. Laboratory Coordinator for Ornithology and Mammalogy Laboratories; taught Mammalogy; taught Introductory Wildlife Ecology; was Head Wild Sheep Unit and Ecologist Advisor. Iran Department of the Environment, Tehran, Iran; Plan, coordinate and conduct studies on the systematics, ecology, and behavior of wild sheep in Iran; advisor for wildlife management programs; served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Peace Corps-Smithsonian Institution Environment Program and conducted Ecological and Behavioral Studies of Armenian Wild Sheep, Rezaiyeh, Iran. Dr. Valdez is author and co-author of books on Mountain Sheep of North America, Natural Resources: Ecology, Economics and Policy, and Exotic Animal Field Guide. Raul’s headline paper in 2003, MNSU Scientists Discover Stealthy Jaguars in Northern Mexico funded by a grant from the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society launched the movement you see today that continues Rosas’ and Thompson’s work with UMA Sonora for sustainable populations of jaguar and puma. Dr. Valdez continually and currently offers his expertise to outline propositions for Primero Conservation's Jaguar Project. 
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