Reader’s Choice

Hi everyone, I need your help to decide the focus of an upcoming post. In the next month I will be talking to founder and director of S.P.E.C.I.E.S, Anthony Giordano, about the work his organization is doing to help the world’s wildcats.

I thought it would be fun to let my readers decide which wildcat we will discuss. Below are images of two species that the organization works with. The cat with the most votes, from the blog poll and Facebook poll combined, will be featured. Reader’s choice wins!

Please vote in the poll below for your favorite cat and, let me know if you have any questions on the species you vote for in the comment section. If your cat is featured, I will pick a few questions to include in my interview with Anthony.

Fishing Cat, Endangered Species, Sri Lanka, South East Asia, Deforestation, Poaching

Choice 1 – Fishing Cat

Jaguars, Chaco, Paraguay, Gran Chaco, South America, habitat loss, endangered species, big cats, livestock wildlife conflict

Choice 2 – Jaguars of the Chaco

Thanks to everyone who participates, the poll with be active for the next week so be sure to get your vote in!

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Cat Village

Cat Island in Japan is famous for its feline residents as well as being a popular destination for tourists from all over, but while many flock there for the cats it is far from the ideal place most have imagined it would be. Hannah Shaw, aka Kitten lady, took a trip there a few years back and she shows us that it sadly falls short of what true cat lovers would expect.

Houtong, Taiwan has taken a different approach to capitalizing on their cats and it is one that ensures the well-being of their four-legged residents is a priority.

The former mining town, which is now referred to as the Cat Village, was taken over by cats that were left behind when all but a few people moved on. A local women and cat lover was the first to notice the cats and she organized other volunteers to help care for the now estimated 200 plus, ensuring that all are vaccinated, micro-chipped and spayed or neutered. The few remaining residents declared themselves a cat friendly sanctuary complete with cat cafes, shops and restaurants making Houtong the perfect mecca for cat lovers.

While the volunteers and residents have made great efforts with the cats, unfortunately there have been reports of people dumping or stealing cats as well as disease which was introduced by abandoned cats – the only apparent downside to the feline paradise. It is acknowledged that there is great potential to teach visitors the value of cats, but officials admit there may be much more work to do in that area.

Cat Villiage, Houtong, Taiwan, Cat lovers, travel, spay and neuter

Cats of Houtong – Image By P1340, from Wikimedia Commons

A place with many cats means temptation, the type the every cat lover can easily fall prey to so with that in mind and knowing that people want to ‘touch’ the cats, those who are tasked for caring for them have made sure that there are plenty of signs and rules asking people to respect and not harass the animals. Getting people to obey all the rules may be another story.

Cat Villiage, Houtong, Taiwan, Cat lovers, travel, spay and neuter

Houtong Cat Village, Photo provided by Anne Cooper – Animal Bliss

If you find yourself in Taiwan, or will be planning a visit just so you can see Houtong’s Cat Village directions on how to get there can be found here.

Virtual Jaguar

Last week I had my first Virtual Reality/360 experience appropriately called Living With Jaguars. It was an immersive presentation produced by VICES’s Motherboard that took the participant into the heart of the Brazilian Pantanal where jaguar densities are the highest in the world.

Living with Jaguars, TIFF, Motherboard, Virtual Reality, Endangered Species, Big cats, Brazil, Pantanal, living with wildlife

Living with Jaguars – TIFF Bell Lightbox Toronto

Living with Jaguars, TIFF, Motherboard, Virtual Reality, Endangered Species, Big cats, Brazil, Pantanal, living with wildlife

Putting on the VR headset for the first time was a really odd sensation and I have to admit there were moments where I actually felt as if I was moving, this odd feeling was quickly overcome as I was whisked into the heart of jaguar territory. Overall I will say it was a really cool experience and my favorite part was the moment when a jaguar appears to walk right up to you.

“Through cutting-edge 3D scanning and photogrammetry techniques, Living With Jaguars creates an environment that allows you to explore first-hand the deeply connected worlds of jaguars, ranchers, conservation researchers, and ecotourism operators.”

Jaguars, like other big cats, are facing immense pressure from people, livestock, habitat loss, development and persecution. Living With Jaguars highlights Panthera’s Pantanal Jaguar Project which aims to save jaguars in the Brazilian Pantanal while their Jaguar Corridor Initiative is helping to create on the world’s largest and intact jaguar corridors. Panthera is working with a variety of stakeholders, both public and private, including cattle ranchers and ecotourism operators with the goal of creating connectivity for jaguars, which is vital for ensuring gene flow and ultimately survival of the species. The two main goals are to protect main jaguar populations and help them navigate safely through human dominated areas over their entire six million km2 range.

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Living With Jaguars can be watched below in 360 at home, even if you don’t have a cardboard VR headset, using Google Chrome or Firefox.

More on the film and Panthera’s Jaguar corridor project can be read here.

In The Eyes

Lions, wildcats, wildlife, wildlife photography, conservation,travel, safari, Botswana

Lion Cub Botswana – Image © Tori-Ellen Dileo

“The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. They are kneeling with hands clasped that we might act with restraint, that we might leave room for the life that is destined to come. To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle. Perhaps the wilderness we fear is the pause between our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace. Wilderness lives by this same grace. Wild mercy is in our hands.” – author Terry Tempest Williams

I found this beautiful and inspiring quote on one of my favorite Instagram accounts Trish Carney Photo, a wonderful California based photographer who focuses on wildlife and has captured some of my favorite images of bobcats.

Cats in Venice

Italian photographer Marianna Zampieri has managed to capture the beautiful bond that exists between a bride and her cat with images that convey companionship, trust and love. The magical essence that is the domestic feline comes through in all her work including one special project soon to be the focus of a book titled Cats in Venice.

In anticipation of her new book I reached out to Marianna to talk about her photography, the book and of course her love of cats.

How did you get started in cat photography?

I have a passion for cats and photography and I started taking photos 5 years ago, a little time after my cat Arthur came into my life. I’ve worked on two main projects – Passions and the ongoing C-AT Work with cats as the protagonist. Then, in June of 2017 I started with my other project Cats in Venice.

Marianna Zampieri, Photography, Italy, Weddings, Cat Photography, Brides and Cats, Cats in Venice, Photography, Cats at Work

Cats in Venice – Image © Marianna Zampieri

What is your first memories with cats?

I have always been a cat lover, I think I was born with the passion for these amazing animals. A very large part of my memories are related to cats, I remember that I knew all the streets near my house by the cats that I used to meet on them. When I was young I had the fortune to share some years with a cat family that arrived in my garden, so I was lucky enough to observe their lives.

Marianna Zampieri, Photography, Italy, Weddings, Cat Photography, Brides and Cats, Cats in Venice, Photography

Marianna with her cat Arthur – Image © Marianna Zampieri

Are you involved with any local cat rescue groups?

I manage a Facebook page dedicated to adoptions and food collection for cats in my city, organize information events and I also donate the proceeds to the branch of ENPA, an animal protection organization, in my city.

Please talk about your special cat Arthur!

Arthur is my joy, I owe him a lot. He has inspired all my projects, especially the idea of post-wedding services. He is a very special cat, and we’re really very attached. He was a rescue and he was very scared when I found him. Now after almost six years we are one, I speak to him a lot and I am sure that he understands even when I am not speaking at all.

What do you enjoy most about photographing cats and cats with their humans?

What I always try to capture in the photos, is the special relationship that is created between the cats and the people with whom they live or with whom they have a bond of trust. They are moments of extreme beauty that excite and move me. What drives me and always gives me great motivation is the emotion and respect towards these animals

Marianna Zampieri, Photography, Italy, Weddings, Cat Photography, Brides and Cats, Cats in Venice, Photography, Cats at Work

C-AT Work – Image © Marianna Zampieri

How important is it to ensure that cats you photograph are comfortable in your presence?

It is the most important thing! When I have to go to someone’s house for a home-based service, it’s the first thing I make clear: cats must be able to do what they want, even not to participate at all if they do not feel at ease. I always bring with me objects that I often use in sets: they are fake flowers or other things that are well suited to be used as games to interact with cats in complete freedom and are beautiful as a photographic rendering. But nothing must be demanded or forced. When I go to Venice, I never know what I am going to photograph, it all depends on the cats I meet.

Marianna Zampieri, Photography, Italy, Weddings, Cat Photography, Brides and Cats, Cats in Venice, Photography, Cats at Work

C-AT Work – Image © Marianna Zampieri

Please talk about your current projects

The C-AT Work project features cats that live in workplaces, and it is a project I am still working on that is leading me to visit really special and interesting places. They are environments in which we are not used to seeing cats, so the photos that come out are very curious and funny. The environments are perfect backgrounds for photographs that create amazing images.

Marianna Zampieri, Photography, Italy, Weddings, Cat Photography, Brides and Cats, Cats in Venice, Photography, Cats at Work

C-AT Work – Image © Marianna Zampieri

In June 2017 I started with Cats in Venice. I live in Vicenza and the beautiful Venice is not too far from there, so I thought that I wanted to show the strong bond that exists between this eternal city and her cats. I wanted to work on something special with these two subjects, but I had to think of a way to do it.

I Asked Venetians directly about the cats that live in Venice, the cats are free to go in the streets (streets that we call ‘Calli’) and they gave me so many reports that I created a map on my navigator and I started walking in this magical city, looking for the cats they told me about.

Marianna Zampieri, Photography, Italy, Weddings, Cat Photography, Brides and Cats, Cats in Venice, Photography, Cats at Work

Cats in Venice – Image © Marianna Zampieri

But the most important part was that they always told me every cat’s name and something about them, so I decided to create a photographic project enriched with texts that explain something more about every cat I meet (I asked people or their owner), and I think that this is the particular difference and beauty of this project.

Cats in Venice is an extra special project as you are publishing a book

Yes, I didn’t announce it officially yet but I am really excited, before the end of March Cats in Venice will be published by El Squero Editore. This is a dream come true as I have always wanted to collect all the photos and stories in a book but it wasn’t so easy. Finally I found an editor that believes in this project and here we are! Before the end of March I will be able to see the first copy of the book and I am really looking forward to it!

Marianna Zampieri, Photography, Italy, Weddings, Cat Photography, Brides and Cats, Cats in Venice, Photography, Cats at Work

Cats in Venice – Image © Marianna Zampieri

Where and when will the book be available for purchase?

I hope that it will be available within the end of March and for the first print it will be only in Italian, but I hope to translate it into English as soon as possible. For all the people interested, I will post the way to buy it on my Facebook page Cats in Venice and on my website www.mariannazampieri.it.

What was the most challenging part of the Cats in Venice project?

The most challenging thing is finding the cats! I follow the reports, so it is not always easy to find the cats that are shown to me. And it is also difficult try to capture their interest as they are always very busy, so I have to be fast!

What message do you hope to communicate to viewers with your photos?

Through my photos I try to capture the personality of the single portrayed cat and their great dignity. They can adapt to any environment while remaining faithful to themselves. What I hope comes from my work is the total respect I have towards them. If this comes, I can feel satisfied.

Marianna Zampieri, Photography, Italy, Weddings, Cat Photography, Brides and Cats, Cats in Venice, Photography, Cats at Work

Cats in Venice – Image © Marianna Zampieri

Do you think your work can help raise the status of cats?

I hope so. I am going to start a new project inspired by some beautiful stories I found, where special cats became symbols of some cities, and I am going to take photos and information about them and share with everyone. I think we all can do something to make their life better.

Marianna Zampieri, Photography, Italy, Weddings, Cat Photography, Brides and Cats, Cats in Venice, Photography, Cats at Work

Cats in Venice – Image © Marianna Zampieri

What is the best thing about photographing cats?

The satisfaction that comes with it when you know you have taken the ‘perfect’ picture , to be able to get in touch with the subject and have grasped the personality. It’s not easy, but the beauty is just that.

I Stand with Big Cats

Today, everyday all cats big and small. If you haven’t posted your picture yet please take to Instagram, Facebook, twitter or Snap chat to show your support of our wonderful and wild feline friends. I specifically picked a photo taken a few years ago with P-22 mountain lion in L.A. (not the real one his famous cardboard cut out). While I love (aka am obsessed with all wildcats) it seems that we here in North America forget that mountain lions like all wildcats elsewhere are victims of habitat loss, human population growth, human/wildlife conflict and conflict with livestock. Additionally, they fall prey to outdated myths resulting in heavy persecution from hunting and trapping (even here in Canada). We now know so much more about these mysterious and once very misunderstood cats, but we have a long way to go. Even with ground breaking research like that of Panthera’s Puma Program they continue to be treated/viewed like they were centuries ago. We know better we should be doing better, our ‘big cat’ deserves our respect and protection.

Mountain lions do not receive the protection or even consideration like African lions or most of the other big cats, they are unfortunately considered of “least concern” despite the fact that there numbers overall are declining. What are we waiting for? We cannot protect or save what is not there. While we continue to fight for all wildcats elsewhere we cannot ignore what goes on in our own backyard, we must continue to push for more humane ways to co-exist with them.

‘Lead by example. What better way to show other countries how to live alongside predators?’

Happy #WorldWildlifeDay @pantheracats Today & everyday #IStandWithBigCats . . I have specifically picked this photo taken a few years ago with the most famous mountain lion in the world #p22mountainlion because he represents the struggles that North America's lion is facing. We often forget that just like big cats elsewhere, these 'big cats' are victims of habitat loss, human population growth, human/wildlife conflict & conflict with livestock. Additionally, they fall prey to outdated myths resulting in heavy persecution from hunting & trapping (even here in Canada). We now know so much more about these mysterious & once very misunderstood cats, but we have a long way to go. They deserve our respect & protection . . While we continue to fight for all wildcats elsewhere we cannot ignore what goes on in our own backyard. Vital to healthy ecosystems we must continue to push for more humane ways to co-exist with them . . What better way to show other countries how to live alongside predators than leading by example? . . #PredatorsUnderThreat #WWD2018 #Mountainlions #puma #catamount #cougars #betheirvoice #savelions #apexpredator #leadbyexample #wildlifeconservation #endpoaching #actforcats #BigCats #lovecats #caturday #wildlife #conservation #panthera

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From one of my favorite accounts/photographers, Robert Martinez/Parliament Of Owls comes amazing footage of a mountain lion mom known as Limpy and her three kittens in California – a place that is trying its best to learn how to coexist with North America’s largest cat.

World Wildlife Day

The theme of this years World Wildlife Day, celebrated on March 3, is very special as it focuses on the big cats. While everyday is a celebration of the big cats here at Purr and Roar it is thrilling to see these magnificent, and in most cases highly endangered, species finally get the much needed attention. A vital part of our natural world and embedded in our history, culture, and imagination there is simply nothing that comes close to the big cats, nothing so magical, beautiful or engaging and, whatever you think you will find it hard not to have some sort of opinion on them. If we would like them to be part of our future, and not a distant memory or just some mention in a history book, we must act swiftly and without hesitation to protect them.

World Wildlife Day, Predators Under Threat, I Protect Big Cats, WWD2018, Big cats, Predators, Tigers, Lions, Leopards, Cheetahs, Pumas, Snow leopards, Jaguars, clouded leopards,Endangered Species, Extinction

“Big cats: predators under threat” is a long overdue and serious look at the major pressures that various wildcats are facing across the globe.

The most recognizable species on earth faces many threats like habitat loss, prey loss, poaching, hunting, illegal wildlife trade, conflicts with livestock, conflict with humans, climate change and the growing human population. These threats are so pressing that we have already seen drastic declines in species like African lions, tigers and cheetahs just to name a few. The one thing they all have in common is us – no matter where we live each person now decides, by our actions or lack of, what species lives and what species vanishes.

“In an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible, the expanded definition of big cats is being used, which includes not only lion, tiger, leopard and jaguar — the 4 largest wild cats that can roar – but also cheetah, snow leopard, puma, clouded leopard, etc. Over the past century we have been losing big cats, the planet’s most majestic predators, at an alarming rate. World Wildlife Day 2018 gives us the opportunity to raise awareness about their plight and to galvanize support for the many global and national actions that are underway to save these iconic species. Through World Wildlife Day big cats will generate the level of attention they all deserve to be sure they are with us for generations to come.”

The International Big Cats Film Festival is also being held in New York on March 2 and 3 to coincide with World Wildlife Day celebrations and will highlight the Cheetah, Clouded Leopard, Jaguar, Leopard, Lion, Puma, Snow Leopard and Tiger. The finalist list of films are in six categories: Issues and Solutions, Conservation Heroes, People and Big Cats, Science and Behavior, ​Micro-Movie, and Local Voices. The winners will be revealed at the World Wildlife Day celebration at UN Headquarters in New York City on March 2.​

World Wildlife Day, Predators Under Threat, I Protect Big Cats, WWD2018, Big cats, Predators, Tigers, Lions, Leopards, Cheetahs, Pumas, Snow leopards, Jaguars, clouded leopards,Endangered Species, Extinction

If you can’t be in New York there are many ways to celebrate and show your support by joining an event near you, or participating via social media. There are a whole list of outreach materials available that individuals, countries and organizations can use for free to show support for big cats and help get the message across. The materials are available in different languages and people are encouraged to share them on social media along with facts that are provided in the social media kit with the following hashtags: #WorldWildlifeDay #PredatorsUnderThreat #iProtectBigCats #WWD2018 and #BigCats.

Panthera, the only organization dedicated to the conservation of the worlds 40 wildcat species and their ecosystems, is encouraging everyone to participate by snapping a selfie with the nearest big cat statue, mascot, logo, or other icon and sharing it on social media with the hashtag #IStandWithBigCats.

Wherever you live I hope that you will take the time acknowledge our amazing wild felines  and show your support for them on World Wildlife Day and everyday!