Awesome Opportunity for Nature Lovers!

Protecting Migratory Birds in Mazatlán: A Workshop for Birdwatchers is a new FREE OF CHARGE series of excursions for English-speaking residents of Mazatlán, designed to acquaint us with the incredible biodiversity of Monte Mojino and its upcoming designation as a National Protected Area, the largest by far in the state of Sinaloa at 200,000 hectares in area. It will increase Sinaloa’s protected nature areas by 300%!

Monte Mojino is located in the municipalities of Concordia and El Rosario and is home to an extraordinary range of flora and fauna, including 310 species of native and migratory birds—at least 79 of which are in danger of extinction. Many new species have actually been discovered in the area.

This project, conducted by Conselva, our local award-winning conservation agency, with help from the Packard Foundation and US Fish and Wildlife, will involve five sessions, every other week, January through April 2021:

  • Four excursions:
    • January 28th
    • February 11th
    • February 25th
    • March 11th
  • There will be a final, closing event in April which will include a photography exhibit, when participants will share with the community of Mazatlán what they have learned.

For the four excursions participants will carpool in their own vehicles into Monte Mojino, where they will be guided by local experts and residents of the areas we’ll visit. Sandra Guido, director of Conselva, assures me the trips will be safe. Conselva has worked with the local communities for over twelve years and know the area and its residents very well. 

The goal of all of this is to build awareness of and respect for the natural areas of Sinaloa, as well as enthusiasm for conservation and ecotourism. It sounds like a lot of fun to me and something I don’t want to miss! To register for this terrific free workshop, fill out this form. If you’d like more information please send an email to mazatlanmigratorybirds@conselva.org.

Conselva also has a volunteer opportunity for you:

They will also be conducting a series of birdwatching sessions for youth (15 and up years old). These will be held on Saturdays beginning January 16th. They are looking for people to help engage the kids and help them find birds and wildlife to watch—no need to be an expert birdwatcher. Ability to hike around natural areas within the city limits and ideally some basic Spanish will be helpful. Send an email to mazatlanmigratorybirds@conselva.org if you are willing to volunteer. If you know of young people who would be interested in this, please share with them this link: https://www.conselva.org/aves-2020

Conselva’s “Nuestro Patrimonio Natural” Dinner

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I sadly missed Mazatlán’s first Holi festival due to my travels, but fortunately returned just in time to attend the Conselva “Nuestro Patrimonio Natural” dinner on Tuesday night. Over 300 people enjoyed the event in Casa Garcia, at which chefs from Cocina!—the community outreach program of local Mazatleco chefs—collaborated on a fundraiser dinner for Conselva: Coasts and Communities. Mayor Felton and First Lady Sylvia, along with many municipal government and business leaders, attended. I was very happy to see that we also had a good expat representation—WTG for supporting environmental sustainability in our region!

Those cooking included Mariana Gomez Rubio from Pedro y Lola; Julián Portugal, from El Parador; Luis and Ignacio Osuna, from Grupo Panamá; Héctor Peniche, from Hector’s Bistro; Diego Becerra, from El Presidio; and Marino Maganda, from Pueblo Bonito. Proceeds from the event were earmarked to purchase highly efficient Patsari wood stoves/comales for families of the Monte Mojino ecological zone. “Patsari” means “the one who takes care of” in the Purhe’pecha language. In addition to conserving wood, the stoves preserve the quality of indoor air.

The Monte Mojino ecological reserve is located in the mountains of southern Sinaloa between Concordia and El Rosario. Its 200,000 hectares of dry tropical and pine forest contain 66% of the fauna found in the state of Sinaloa and 56% of the plant families found here, including 160 species that are endemic to Mexico. According to Conselva, the reserve has a biodiversity richer than that of Costa Rica. Conselva has worked hard to teach the 12,000 residents of the region conservation and eco-tourism, so they can thrive while protecting their natural environment.

The seven chefs welcomed all of us through the doors of the Compañía Minera bar and restaurant portion of Casa Garcia with a selection of terrific fish and seafood ceviches and drinks at the first food station of the evening. Wine and beer were included, but strangely non-alcoholic drinks had an up-charge.

Once inside the large outdoor patio we were entertained during the cocktail hour by a jungle-clad drum and dance troupe, while three dancers made up as jaguars pranced among us. It was delightful.

We were able to see a Patsari stove in action as throughout the evening two ladies from Monte Mojino used one to make tortillas.

Funds raised from the dinner go to buy wood stoves like this one for Monte Mojino residents.

Funds raised from the dinner go to buy wood stoves like this one for Monte Mojino residents.

Seating was throughout the central patio, both downstairs and upstairs. As usual the venue was gorgeous and the weather was perfect. For dinner we were able to enjoy three different food stations. The station downstairs served fish, soup and tamales made from regional products, while another upstairs served delicious meats from the Monte Mojino region. The fourth and final station was inside the cleared El Presidio restaurant, and consisted of about seven different desserts!

Click on any photo to enlarge, or to view a slideshow.

Puzzling to me about the event was that food was served on plastic dinnerware. While more ecologically sound than styrofoam, Greg and I found it very strange that a conservation organization would use plasticware, and particularly for an event that cost 1000 pesos per person. Hopefully the materials were recycled or recyclable. The other unfortunate reality was that seating was extremely awkward, with many people unsure where to sit or having to move after they’d already been seated. With an event of this size, a few hiccups are perhaps to be expected. All in all, the night was quite magical, and very savory!

At the conclusion of the evening everyone attending was given a gift bag of Monte Mojino honey to take home.

I’m very happy we have several organizations in Mazatlán that are dedicated to preserving our natural environment and to educating people about conservation and eco-tourism. It is my most sincere hope that southern Sinaloa can become a champion of environmentally friendly and sustainable tourism before it is too late. We’ve already lost so much. Southern Sinaloa is blessed with an incredibly vibrant biodiversity, and we will be wise to work together to create sustainable ways of making the most of its beauty and riches, for both ourselves and the generations to come.