By Shari Bondy
Central Baja may not be a tropical tourist haven, but it has a vast and diverse collection of ecological and historical attractions to keep visitors busy. It is the least populated area of the peninsula and the driest. Incredible cactus forests, blooming wild desert flowers, and pristine long sandy beaches delight adventure seekers of all ages. The missions of San Borja and San Ignacio are stunning examples of architecture in beautiful settings.
The area is rich in natural wonders like the gray whale calving lagoons of San Ignacio and Ojo de Liebre, close to Guerrero Negro which is where more than half the gray whale babies are born. The lagoons have been protected since 1971 when they were declared a protected gray whale refuge, the first of its kind. There are several islands to explore on local pangas where you can visit sea lion rookeries and seabird nesting sites.
The area is in the heart of the Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve established in 1988, the largest reserve in all of Latin America covering over a million acres. It is a sanctuary for several endangered species like the big horned sheep, Pronghorn antelope, elephant seals, sea lions, whales, four endangered species of sea turtles, falcons, osprey, and over 200 species of aquatic and migratory birds.
The Reserve, in cooperation with the Ford Motor company and other U.S.A. zoological organizations like the San Diego Zoo’s Wildlife Conservancy, operates a world class rearing program to preserve and increase the Pronghorn Antelope population, one of the most endangered large mammals in Mexico. The goal is to operate captive and semi-captive breeding programs to reintroduce animals into the wild as well as develop husbandry and veterinary programs to train Mexican wildlife personnel. There is a strong environmental community education element in hopes of developing local habitat protection. The program has been a resounding success and many animals have now been released into the wild. You can visit the project via tours arranged from Guerrero Negro.
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