Unexpected Beauty and Unequal Duels in Saguaro National Park

Saguaro is an American national park in Pima County, southeastern Arizona. The 92,000-acre (37,000 ha) park consists of two separate areas—the Tucson Mountain District (TMD) about 10 miles west of the city of Tucson and the Rincon Mountain District (RMD) about 10 miles east of the city—that preserve Sonoran Desert landscapes, fauna, and flora, including the giant saguaro cactus.

An inventory of medium and large mammals in the park confirmed the presence of 30 species in Saguaro National Park between 1999 and 2008. Of these, 21 were found in the Tucson Mountain District and 29 in the Rincon Mountain District. A partial list of the park’s mammals includes cougars, coyotes, bobcats, white-tailed deer, mule deer, javelinas, gray foxes, black-tailed jackrabbits, desert cottontails, ring-tailed cats, white-nosed coatis, ground squirrels, and packrats. One endangered mammal, the lesser long-nosed bat, lives part of the year in the park and part of the year in Mexico.

The wide range of habitats in the park supports a diverse population of birds including some, such as the vermilion flycatcher and the whiskered screech owl, uncommon elsewhere in the United States. Among the park’s 107 bird species are great horned owls, cactus wrens, ravens, kestrels, turkey vultures, roadrunners, woodpeckers, hawks, quails, and hummingbirds, and one threatened species, the Mexican spotted owl.

The park’s 36 reptile species include desert tortoises, diamondback rattlesnakes (one of the more commonly seen snakes), coral snakes, Gila monsters, short-horned lizards, spiny lizards, and zebra-tailed lizards. Despite the aridity, three amphibian species inhabit the park: the canyon tree frog, the lowland leopard frog, and Couch’s spadefoot, which lives in burrows, emerging to breed during summer rains. Forest fires, which create erosion-prone burned areas, have destroyed many of the leopard frog’s breeding pools, which fill with sediment. The Arizona and Fish Department lists the lowland leopard frog as a species of special concern.

Urban sprawl, air and water pollution, noise, light pollution, and a range of habitat restricted by human infrastructure put stress on the park’s mammals and other animals, but the most serious immediate threat to them is roadkill. About 50,000 vertebrates a year die on the park’s roads when they are hit by a vehicle. The Rincon Mountain District has few roads, but Picture Rocks Road, an east–west commuter highway crossing the Tucson Mountain District, is highly dangerous to wildlife. Attempts in 2002 to convert it to a hiking trail failed after the proposal met with stiff public resistance.

Original Author: Produced by Free High-Quality Documentaries and published on 28/11/2020 Source