Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bisons and Borders

ACROSS FROM SOUTHEAST ARIZONA AND SOUTHWEST NEW MEXICO stand the peaks of the Sierra Madre. The mountains are inhospitable to human settlement (though handy for drug smuggling) and home to significant populations of bears, eagles, jaguars and parrots. To the east and west of the Sierra lie large grasslands. Here humans rule. The great Mexican prairie herds of bison and antelope have been displaced by cattle or – worse – by center-pivot irrigation farming. Now, after a break of two hundred years, the bison are coming back.

They are returning to the northern Chihuahua town of Janos, where teams from the Instituto de EcologĂ­a of the National University and the Mexican affiliate of The Nature Conservancy have established the most impressive prairie restoration site in North America. Janos is now home to the world's largest population of prairie dogs and the world's largest population of golden eagles. Bison will be re-introduced to Janos next month (the only herd in Mexico) and most of the huge border municipality will be declared a a National Biosphere Reserve. Saludos.

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