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Path of the Puma

Path of the Puma: The Remarkable Resilience of the Mountain Lion by Montana wildlife biologist Jim Williams is about his work with mountain lions in North America and assisting with puma conservation in South America. Accompanying Jim’s personal stories and interactions with colleagues, ranchers and hunters are a number of wonderful photographs and maps, including one on the inside cover of the book which shows the mountain lions former range, their known current range and likely path of dispersal.

Path of the Puma, Book Review, Jim Williams, Puma, Mountain lions, Conservation, North America, South America

If you need an introduction to what impacts predator conservation and recovery then Path of the Puma will provide a good overview – politics, livestock, loss of connectivity, climate change, industry, habitat loss, poaching, over hunting of prey species and lions by humans and, general cultural attitudes towards the species. All of these things, which you will find  intricately woven through each of the chapters, in combination or on their own have the ability to threaten mountain lions everywhere.

As Jim recounts his work on the Mountain Caribou Recovery Project in British Colombia, a controversial project that wrongfully targeted predators like mountain lions as the cause of declining caribou numbers, we are reminded that “it’s a whole lot easier to blame the predator” rather than limit our own activities that affect wildlife. Path of the Puma also tells us that the science and research demonstrates mountain lions are able to self regulate their own populations through territory, they do not wipe out their food sources or prey species and, there are greater threats to people than the very rare lion attack.

Perhaps one of the most controversial topics that is discussed in the book is the role that sport hunting plays in conservation and how the majority of wildlife agencies use it as a management tool. Even with the evidence telling us they don’t need to be managed and that sport hunting does have negative repercussions, by causing more conflicts than it solves, mountain lions are hunted almost everywhere in the western U.S. and Canada. The old world attitudes are still very much alive and entrenched in the minds of those that determine the fate of mountain lions who continue to appear to be a sacrifie to appease special interest groups.

Mountain lions were once widely distributed throughout North and South America right up through to northern Canada until they were eradicated from much of their historical range, the result of government bounties and perceived threat to livestock. Today while it can be argued populations have some stability in the western U.S. and Canada, their numbers are no where near to what they were historically. Are mountain lions really beating the odds? I know it is something we hear often and it is the message in this book, but I have a very hard time buying into that. To believe that mountain lions are somehow exempt from having their numbers dangerously reduced to the point of being pushed towards extinction, is foolish on our part. These animals are resilient, but they are not invincible.

Path of the Puma is a great read full of valuable insight on mountain lion behavior and  human behavior, with an interesting mix of science and contradictions. Mountain lions are a remarkable species that can continue to thrive if we allow them to, but it requires us to work towards a more progressive model of wildlife management where conserving them is a priority.

Path of the puma is published by outdoor company Patagonia and can also be purchased from Amazon.

For more on the book check out an interview with Jim and The Explores Club NY on Facebook, the hour long presentation can be seen here.

Seeking the Andean Cat

The Andean cat (Leopardus jacobita) is the most threatened cat in the Americas and is  found in South America mainly in the high Andes of Peru and Bolivia, north of Chile and northern Argentina. There have been only 10 recorded sightings of these secretive cats in 25 years which means researchers, along with the general public, know very little about them. The rarer the cat the harder they are to study and protect, but the nonprofit organization the Andean Cat Alliance (Alianza Gato Andino, or “AGA”) is hoping to change that.

Members of the AGA have released the first ever Andean cat documentary in hopes of raising awareness, locally and globally, for this extremely threatened species. “Seeking the Andean Cat is a multidisciplinary network of volunteers consisting of conservationists, communication experts and wildlife advocates. It is time that people around the world get a look into the secretive world — and the survival difficulties — of this beautiful cat from the Andes Mountains.”

“After 15 years of searching, conservationists found the perfect place to film this very elusive cat in the Andes Mountains. The Andean cat is the only cat listed as Endangered in the Americas by the IUCN with less than 1400 mature individual adults throughout its range.

Once you have watched the documentary please go to the Ladera Sur page and  vote for the film by scrolling down to the bottom and picking Seeking the Andean Cat. Voting remains open for the next two weeks!

To find out more about these unique wild cats and the important conservation work being done to protect them, be sure to follow Seeking the Andean Cat on Facebook and Instagram.

Sofa Premiere: The Return of the Wildcat

If you are looking for more cat content while self-isolating at home, make sure to schedule time on Friday April 17 to learn about one of Europe’s most elusive and endangered wild felines, all from the comfort of your own couch.

The Return of the Wildcat will be free to watch for 24hrs on Vimeo and all you need is a good internet connection. The film is in German, but English subtitles are available by clicking the CC button on the bottom right hand corner of the Vimeo player. Good news, the film can be watched world wide and will air at 7 pm (CEST) which is 1 pm (EST) or 10 am (PST).

“In this 40-minutes-documentary the ecologist and filmmaker David Cebulla is on a quest to find one of Germany‘s shyest and most endangered species: the European wildcat. During a scientific pre-study, by chance, he made the first record of a wildcat in an area near his hometown Jena. Thereupon he dedicates a whole year to get the genetic evidence and a really splendid film recording of a free-living wildcat.”

Director and film maker David Cebulla took some time to answer a few questions about his work and the documentary which will be his first ever ‘sofa’ premiere.

Please tell me about your background and how you got into film making

I used to be a musician and got into film making after releasing my first album when I, among other things, produced a video clip for one of the songs. This was in 2014. Since then I have had different jobs on a variety of film projects. I started as a set runner on productions for German television, worked as set manager, production manager and first assistant director. For about two years I did artist and social media management for Andreas Kieling who is one of the most famous and most popular nature film makers in Germany. I also did my own films and ordered projects, but the most important step was my debut film “Hidden Beauty – The Orchids of the Saale Valley”.

Why do you primarily focus on nature and science content?

My passion for nature goes back to childhood so it was always an important part of my life. Often this was in the form of orienteering or climbing, but to me the experience of nature has always been as equally as important as seeking knowledge. I decided to study biology at university and specialized in ecology during my master’s degree. In addition to film making I am also a scientist, as I love to work in nature and to capture its beauty. I remember a moment when I was working on “Hidden Beauty” filming a time laps of the Milky Way and it was just me at night in nature. I had to clap my hands occasionally to keep the wild boars away and I thought – “This is exactly what I want to do!” I am glad that I found this way to combine scientific research and nature film making.

What first got you interested in making a documentary on the European wildcat?

I had the opportunity to combine my passion for science and film making when I did a study on wildlife as part of my master’s degree. I started monitoring with a single and very simple trail camera. By chance I made the first record of a European wildcat for my area of investigation.

Why is it important for you to make this film now?

It is common knowledge that we are living in a time of huge environmental problems. We have to face the impact we are having on the planet – environmental pollution, human-made climate change, the isolation of habitats because of road networks and agriculture. What better way is there to create awareness than to show the very things that are endangered and worth protecting? This film is a visual appeal for the conservation of nature and species. It was my special interest to show great and stunning captures of nature. We need to act. And we need to do it now.

Did you work with any specific organizations or individuals?

This film is based on monitoring I conducted myself. I interviewed experts that I worked with and they are also part of the film. I interviewed Silvester Tamás, from the NGO NABU (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union), who managed a wildcat monitoring project in my area in previous years. I also collaborated with Matthias Krüger, head taxidermist at the Jena Phyletic Museum, who has great knowledge on the dead ‘found’ wildcats the Museum received in the past decades.

What did you learn about the European wildcat while making the documentary?

Probably, how fascinating it is that they managed to survive. Although they used to be hunted, and were almost exterminated, we still have free living European wildcats today.

What do you hope your film will help accomplish for these cats?

This is a question with many answers. First, I hope to inform people about the European wildcat by contributing to environmental education on the topic. Hopefully viewers will consider what impact their own decisions may have on the wildcat – do I put my dog on a leash when walking it in a forest? Do I obey other rules when I am visiting a nature conservation area? Importantly the film will draw attention to the wildcat and show what problems they are facing and that they cannot be solved by any one individual. On another level the wildcat is a fascinating animal and, when we protect the wildcat we are protecting its potential habitats therefore also protecting the flora and fauna in those habitats as a whole.

What are your plans for the film after the premiere?

The premiere will start at 7 pm (CEST) which is 1 pm (EST) or 10 am (PST). It will only be available for 24 hours to watch for free either on our website or directly on Vimeo. Afterwards it will be on Vimeo On Demand for rent and purchase. Later this year we will also add it to Amazon Prime in Germany, the USA, the UK and Japan.

Anything else you would like to add?

I am looking forward to the premiere and appreciate anyone who is interested in watching and recommending the film!

For more updates on David’s work be sure to follow him on Instagram

Wild Cats Of The Jura Mountains

Switzerland, a country known for its picturesque and mountainous landscapes is also home to some of the world’s most elusive and rare felines. Wild cat enthusiast, camera trapper, photographer and passionate citizen scientist Lars Begert is helping to tell the story of the small wild cats that call Switzerland’s Jura Mountains home. His hope is that by sharing his photographs and knowledge he will give them a voice, helping to inspire others to appreciate and protect these unique and important animals.

I recently interviewed Lars about his life long passion for nature, wildlife and his participation in the Wildcat Monitoring project that is doing important research not far from where he lives.

How did your passion for photographing wild cats start?

It all started as a child when my parents showed my brother and I the beauty of nature and love for wildlife early on.  We lived on the edge of the forest and in my spare time I would visit the ponds and pools to watch amphibians. We also went to the Swiss National Park for at least 2 weeks each year to watch animals. Relatives often gave me animal books for my birthday and I can remember one specific book very well, it had a tiger on the front cover, and I spent hours studying the different animal species. My grandparents always had domestic cats at home and I loved playing with them so I guess this was where my relationship with the cats started. As a child I always wanted to be an animal researcher, but lost interest for a short time while growing up. When I met my wife back in 2000 we started to look for wildlife on our vacations, because she also has a big interest in animals.

Camera Trapping, Switzerland, Jura Mountains, Wildcat Monitoring Switzerland, Europen Wild Cat, Iberian Lynx, Bobcats, conservation, Swiss Federal Law on Hunting and the Protection of Indigenous Mammals and Birds

The Swiss Jura is one of the three distinct geographical regions of Switzerland, the others being the Swiss plateau and the Swiss Alps. Wikipedia

The big push really happened in 2011 when I started to wonder whether there were any lynx in the Aargau Jura. There was some indication that they were, but there wasn’t really much information about it so I started putting up cheap trail cameras. However, I had to wait over a year for the first lynx to run into one of my cameras. Also during that time I recalled a vacation from 2005 when we were in Kenya, so I decided to fly there again. It was just wonderful, I had a great guide and we saw so many wild cats but I was not so happy with the pictures, so I bought a better camera and went again in the same year. Since then, we always plan our vacation around wild cats. I can’t really describe it, but I am somehow quite attracted to them.

How did you become involved in camera trapping?

I started with cheap trail cams going after the Eurasian lynx and when I saw the pictures I was happy, but being quite the perfectionist I was also not happy. I mean you could identify the species, but for a great capture it was just not the right device. I recall seeing the captures of Sebastian Kennerknecht*, Steve Winter’s capture of mountain lion P-22** and the beautiful Eurasian lynx captures of Laurent Geslin*** and I thought I want to take pictures like this!

It took me a lot of time to find out how to work and create a stable, reliable setup but when I finally had my first capture of a pine marten I was so happy and it really opened up a whole new world photography wise. So I really started with DSLR camera trapping about 2 years ago and I am still learning a lot. I also had, and still have, a lot of setbacks. In the beginning I had a lot of technical issues and sometimes still do, particularly after heavy rainfall or storms. I also had quite the bad luck when it comes to the Eurasian lynx, last year it passed one of my camera traps 4 times and during that time the camera trap didn’t work, but when I finally did get a capture it was all worth it!

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Back to the cats 😺: Finally the young, male, Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx carpathicus) B622 is back ! When it comes to lynxes and dslr cameratrapping, i wasn‘t very blessed with luck .This lynx appeared first in our area in october 2018. Since then he passed almost every month at one of my best spots, until June 2019. A long time, i was too scared to install a camera trap there, because it is also a hiking path and i didn‘t wan‘t to disturb Hikers/Trail Runners/Hunters/Mountain Bikers and was scared of theft or destruction. In may, i finally decided to place a dslr cameratrap there and i also found another place, where he appeared every 2 months and placed two dslr cameratraps too. The Lynx came by 4 times in june, but i had 1 defective battery at one place and because of a thunderstorm two defective PIR sensors at the other site. Since June the lynx only appeared once again at a different place i found and was dissapeared since, until last week. As it happened in the same way since i started to monitor Lynxes in our area at the end of 2015, indidn’t expect that he was coming back again – it was always the same pattern – A lynx appears in our area for 3 to 6 months every month and moves then to the western solothurn jura mountains, as our area is not the absolute prime habitat of the lynx. I am quite happy that he is back and finally passed one of my cameratraps and i hope that our area stay part of his territory. Time will tell. 🤞😺 . Captured with: Nikon D3300 | Nikon AF-S 35mm DX | Nikon SB-80DX | Fireking KKS-2 Hardcase | SensePi Motion Sensor by @appikoorg | Pixel Flash Adapter . #schweiz #suisse #lynx #lynxlynx #wildcat #wildcats #cameratrapping #cat #cats #catsofinstagram #catsofworld #wildcatsofinstagram #picoftheday #pic #wild #wildlife #wildlifephotography #wildlifeonearth #wildlife_vision #wildlifeplanet #nature #naturephotography #naturelover #naturelovers #nikonphotography #nikonswitzerland #wildgeography #wildphoto #speuzerlochs

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Tell me about the Wildcat Monitoring project you are currently involved in?

In 2008-2010 the Wildcat Monitoring Switzerland project was carried out to determine the distribution of the species in Switzerland for the first time. The monitoring was based on one systematic survey of wildcat occurrences in the Jura, unfortunately I wasn’t involved back then. Ten years later, the second survey is to be carried out to monitor developments in the wildcat population, both in terms of distribution and hybridization. The purpose of the inventory on behalf of the FOE (Federal office of environment) is as follows:

    • Distribution map of occurrences of wildcats in the Jura and in the Central Plateau up to the Pre-alps, status 2018-20201
    • Estimation of wildcat density2
    • Estimation of the rate of hybridization of wildcats
    • Changes in the distribution, density and hybridization rate in large carnivore management in the Jura compared to the first monitoring survey

Since you can’t tell the difference a 100% between a domestic cat (Felis catus) and the European wildcat (Felis silvestris) you have to find out through a DNA Analysis. This  means you need hair from the cats.

Lars Begert, Wildlife photography, Camera Trapping, Switzerland, Jura Mountains, Wildcat Monitoring Switzerland, Europen Wild Cat, Iberian Lynx, Bobcats, conservation

Image © Lars Begert @lynxlynx.ch – hair trap installation

In this Wildcat Monitoring project there are specific square kilometer habitats defined and, on every square kilometer you have to set 3 wooden pickets on an animal trail. You treat the picket with a knife that the hairs get stuck to when the cat rubs on the picket. To attract them you spray the picket with Valerian. Wildcats, as well as other animals, are quite attracted to Valerian especially during mating season which is January to March.

To date, what species of wild cats have shown up on your camera traps?

In Switzerland we have two species of wild cats: the European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) and the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx carpathicus). The Eurasian lynx was eradicated during the 19th century and reintroduced in 1971 again with individuals from the Carpathian mountains, while the European wildcat was strongly reduced but never became completely extinct in Switzerland. So far I am happy that I have been able to capture both of our wild cat species with my camera traps. This fact makes me particularly happy as the area in which I operate the camera traps is the direct “back-country” of my home, as well as a peripheral region for these two animal species.

Lars Begert, Wildlife photography, Camera Trapping, Switzerland, Jura Mountains, Wildcat Monitoring Switzerland, Europen Wild Cat, Iberian Lynx, Bobcats, conservation

Image ©Lars Begert@lynxlynx.ch – wildcat footprints or not?

As a citizen scientist what do you hope to contribute to wild cat conservation where you live?

I hope that I can collect as much information as possible about the distribution and density of the wildcat in our region to support and help the scientists. With my captures I hope that I can inform people that these wild cats actually exist, as many people don’t know about them and when I do show them pictures they feel that it is a domestic cat. I want to make them aware that we have a great little wildcat in the woods with us, that it is worth protecting and that we need to be aware of the importance of protecting nature including our forests. In the next few years I would like to create a picture book about the beautiful nature we are surrounded with and focus on our two wild cat species.

Lars Begert, Wildlife photography, Camera Trapping, Switzerland, Jura Mountains, Wildcat Monitoring Switzerland, Europen Wild Cat, Iberian Lynx, Bobcats, conservation

Image ©Lars Begert @lynxlynx.ch – phenotypic wildcat

What is next for the monitoring project?

For the next 2.5 months I will manage the hair traps, that means I have to check every 2 weeks if there are hairs at the pickets and treat the pickets again with a knife and Valerian. I already found hairs on two of my pickets this season, but of course don’t know yet from which animals the hairs are from. I personally set a camera trap in front of every picket so I already know that at least on one of the pickets a phenotypic****Euorpean wildcat went by and examined the picket, but I also know that there were 4 other species rubbing their body on the picket. The lab will sort out and analyze the hairs and with some hairs they can already tell, by the structure, that it is not a wildcat.

Lars Begert, Wildlife photography, Camera Trapping, Switzerland, Jura Mountains, Wildcat Monitoring Switzerland, Europen Wild Cat, Iberian Lynx, Bobcats, conservation

Image ©Lars Begert@lynxlynx.ch – phenotypic wildcat

I expect to have the first results, which determine whether the hair has wildcat DNA or not, by August/September this year. During the second step they analyze all the remaining wildcat hairs to determine the hybridization level. By the end of 2021 the project will be over and we should have all the relevant data. My work will be completed by end of march as I only work in the field, but my camera trapping will continue.

Why was it so important to become involved in helping document the presence of these animals?

For me it was a dream, because I wanted to become a animal researcher as a child but decided then to another path work-wise. I want to help in my free time as much as I can to provide as much data as possible for the researchers and to get a better understanding of how we can help a species like the wildcat in this small, fragmented country. I wouldn’t expect that everyone becomes involved in this type of project, but it could really help to raise the awareness with people. I think we are so disconnected with nature, there has to be a change. Otherwise the nature we know will disappear.

Lars Begert, Wildlife photography, Camera Trapping, Switzerland, Jura Mountains, Wildcat Monitoring Switzerland, Europen Wild Cat, Iberian Lynx, Bobcats, conservation

Image ©Lars Begert@lynxlynx.ch – phenotypic wildcat

What are some of the biggest threats wildcats in Switzerland face and, what is being done to help them?

The main threats of the European wildcat include:

  • Habitat loss, destruction and fragmentation (road traffic)
  • Disease transmission from domestic cats
  • Hybridization with domestic cats

Although the idea of hybridization is quite controversial, some scientists see it as a threat while others are not sure because it hasn’t been thoroughly researched yet. Unfortunately there is not a lot that can be done to reduce this threat. Switzerland is quite a small fragmented country and there are some projects working to connect habitats. Even though the wildcat is never the main focus of course it will benefit. Concerning the hybridization issue there are some animal welfare organization which require neutering for free range domestic cats or feral cats, which is also considered controversial because it is quite a harsh measure.

Lars Begert, Wildlife photography, Camera Trapping, Switzerland, Jura Mountains, Wildcat Monitoring Switzerland, Europen Wild Cat, Iberian Lynx, Bobcats, conservation

Image ©Lars Begert@lynxlynx.ch – phenotypic wildcat

Please tell me about the recent Swiss hunting law that was proposed

The new hunting law has come out all wrong. “In the future protected animal species such as lynx, wolf, beaver and grey heron can be shot down before they have caused any damage and, before any protective measures for herds or flocks have been taken simply because they exist. This new law also comes at a time when biodiversity is facing its most precarious moment in the history of humankind. The congress of states and the national council already voted for it. Several Swiss nature and animal protection organizations are resorting to a referendum against the revised “Swiss Federal Law on Hunting and the Protection of Indigenous Mammals and Birds” (In German Jagdgesetz, JSG) and are fighting against this unacceptable weakening of the protection of species in Switzerland. The only things the new law would protect are agricultural interests and hunting and fishing yields.” Together with a colleague I went to the zoo Basel to collect signatures from people. I am happy that the 50,000 signatures were collected and there is now a vote for the referendum on May 17, 2020.

What is your personal philosophy with regards to conservation and photographing wildlife?

Even though I’m pretty wild cat oriented, the important thing is the entire ecosystem so every species counts. When it comes to photographing wildlife I have discovered disturbing things in the last years. There are a lot of so called wildlife photographers that are not really interested in the animal, they are interested in their capture and the fame and glory they probably will get from it. They don’t care if they destroy nature, or if the animal gets hurt or if they stage and fake the photo as long as they are getting their shot. So in my understanding there is no wildlife photography without conservation. Just observe before taking a capture.

If you had to pick a few favorite highlights while photographing wild cats, either at home or on your travels, which would they be?

It is quite hard to pick. I am very grateful, and I really appreciate, that I had already a lot of awesome encounter with wild cats. But I will narrow it down to 3 highlights:

  1. My first Iberian lynx, one of the world’s most endangered wild cats. In 2014 we went to Andalusia, southern Spain, and after 2 attempts and 4 weeks down there we finally saw our first lynx, it was just magical to see this beautiful animal in the wild.
  2. Next is caracals in Kenya In 2013. I decided to go again to Kenya, Masai Mara, to photograph wildcats. I told our guide at the camp that I’d plan to go to South Africa later that year because of caracals. He laughed and told me that he could show me a caracal if we came back again. So I convinced my wife to go to Kenya again instead of South Africa. We searched for days to see a caracal, and our guide was already quite frustrated when a colleague of his called and told him that they had seen a caracal. We hurried over and found 2 strolling in their territory. I didn’t get any proper capture, but it was again so wonderful to just watch and observe these beautiful animals.
  3. Finally my first bobcat capture in 2018. We already tried to see bobcats in 2015 in California, but weren’t successful at that time. We later flew to San Francisco where I went to the Golden Gate Bridge recreation area and, on the second morning there I decided to go a little bit earlier. I started hiking down to the sea, my camera ready when I passed by some coyotes and saw another shadow further down. At first I thought it was another coyote, but realized suddenly that it was moving like a cat. I slowly approached the animal and saw a bobcat! He was looking for rodents in the grass and walked up again another road. He turned his head and wasn’t even disturbed at my presence as long as I kept my distance. I followed him for around 20 minutes, took some pictures before he disappeared in the tall grass again. That was just another magical moment, alone with a beautiful creature!

Is there anything else you would like people to know?

Go out enjoy nature and wildlife! Appreciate this amazing planet we have and help to protect and conserve it. Get your connection to nature back – It gives us so much in return. Nature needs all of us now.

For more wild cats, camera trapping photos and other wonderful images of wildlife like amphibians, be sure to follow Lars on Instagram at @Lynxlynx.ch.


*Sebastian Kennerknecht

**Mountain lion P-22

***Laurent Geslin

F1.Unit: occurrence probability per km2

F2.Number of wildcats per km2, incl. 95% confidence interval

****.Phenotype

Ghost Walker

Ghost Walker: Tracking a Mountain Lion’s Soul Through Science and Story is a book by Leslie Patten, an established landscape designer from California with a background in horticulture and botany. A citizen scientist and trained naturalist, Leslie has also assisted with wildlife studies and authored multiple books including the most recent Ghost Walker where she draws on her personal experiences and quest to understand mountain lions better. The book includes scientific research, history, myths as well interviews with biologists, trackers, hunters and conservationists.

Ghost Walker, Leslie Patten, Mountain Lions, Cougars, Pumas, California, Wyoming, Yellowstone, Panthera Teton Cougar Project, American lions,

The book concentrates on stories and science from Wyoming, where Leslie resides, and California

Sparked by a set of paw prints in the snow one morning while hiking with her dog Leslie sets out to answer the question: “What does it feel like to be a mountain lion?”. These tracks lead her, and the reader, on a physical and spiritual journey to understand how mountain lions live and struggle to survive in a world that is full of natural and man made threats. For those who are new to mountain lion conservation, or have a general interest in the species, the book is interesting and accessible while providing a background on the cats history and current status in the western states. It will also introduce you to the key players and research that is shaping mountain lion conservation. If you already have a good knowledge and passion for these animals consider the book a welcome addition to your reading list.

Mountain lion conservation is still riddled with challenges and contradictions and, in many places it is almost non-existent although views and policies are slowly improving as we have seen in California. Ghost Walker examines many of the factors that continue to influence our relationship with these highly misunderstood cats and it tells us that it will take a collective effort to ensure their long term survival. Including the non-consumptive public, who have historically been shut out of the decision making process, in decisions that impact these cats will be an important place to start. Change and reform for the better can happen, we simply have to want it bad enough.

Despite the onslaught they have suffered at our hands mountain lions have demonstrated they are willing to adapt and coexist. Are we now willing to do the same?

Ghost Walker: Tracking a Mountain Lion’s Soul Through Science and Story is available for purchase on Amazon. To read about the stories that did not make it into the book be sure to follow Leslie’s blog The Human Footprint.

A Party For A Mountain Lion

Los Angeles, a city known for its celebrities and beautiful people, has begun hosting a yearly party for one its most beloved and famous stars who is a real survivor and a hero of the four-legged kind. This year marked the fourth annual P-22 Day, a festival to honor mountain lion P-22 who crossed 2 of the busiest freeways in the U.S. and took up residence in Griffith Park. The journey he made was incredible and so is the overwhelming support he has received from LA and, from people from around the world. P-22’s story inspired the Save LA Cougars campaign which will raise money to help build, what will be, the world’s largest wildlife crossing in LA. The crossing will help save endangered mountain lion populations as well as help restore connectivity benefiting nature and all wildlife.

As a long time fan and supporter of P-22 and the Save LA Cougars campaign I decided to take a trip to see what a party for the world’s most famous mountain lion, was like.

Modern look for a modern lion. Created by Phil Yarnell for the 4th Annual P-22 Day Festival 2019. Image P-22 on Facebook

Part of the week long celebration, and Urban Wildlife Week, leading up to the festival is 5 day hike following in the footsteps of  P-22. The hike, which is lead by NWF California Regional Executive Director Beth Pratt, makes its way through the Santa Monica Mountains tracing a route that P-22 most likely took to get to Griffith Park. With some portions of the hike open to the public I decided to join on day 4 and complete 6 miles which started at TreePeople park and ended at the Hollywood Bowl overlook. The hike took us through trails, busy neighborhoods and roads ending at the point where P-22 would have made his final crossing to get to Griffith Park. While we didn’t have to play ‘frogger’ with LA’s deadly traffic we were exposed to a mere fraction of what it was like to walk in the shoes, or paws, of one very brave mountain lion. I came away with a better understanding and appreciation for just how extraordinarily difficult life is for these predators even when you have an entire city rooting for you.

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What an amazing day hiking the path that @p22mountainlion took to get to his final destination in #griffithpark a total of 6 miles with the most fantastic group of people lead by Beth Pratt. What a great way to experience a small part of what it took for a #mountainlion to navigate trails,roads, houses, people & deadly traffic to make it to his final destination. #LA needs this #wildlifecrossing to ensure there is #connectivity for mountain lions & all wildlife. Please continue to support @savelacougars & their work! Next stop today is the #p22dayfestival2019 😸 . . #savelacougars #p22day #p22hike #savelions #savehabitat #betheirvoice #pumas #california #losangeles #caturday #savebigcats #coexist #libertycanyon #builditandtheywillcome #urbanwildlifeweek #leadingbyexample

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After an invigorating hike the next stop was the P-22 Day festival. I wondered what the magic formula was that made so many people from different ages, walks of life, and backgrounds support a cause so passionately? More than just a party, the P-22 Day Festival and campaign around it, is like nothing seen before. This initiative has solid research to back it up, but it is also based on tolerance, coexistence and love for wildlife. If the rest of the world is willing to learn from what is happening in LA, there is a lot we can take away and apply to help wildlife where we live.

​It turned out to be a perfect day for a party and thousands turned out to celebrate. There were exhibitors aimed at educating people about urban wildlife, nature, mountain lions, coexistence and of course the importance of connectivity. There was also dancing, demonstrations, arts and crafts for kids and experts ready to answer your questions about wildlife. P-22 Day is an all ages event, but they really gear activities towards kids and families to enjoy together which is key to inspiring and teaching the next generation.

There were many fun activities throughout the day and a few highlights include the P-22 song On The Move Again performed by 3rd Rock Hip Hop, a group that teaches kids about environmental awareness and, for those wanting to see the world through a mountain lions eyes The Save LA Cougars Virtual Reality experience, which can be experienced at home by downloading the app for your phone or by watching via your web browser.

There were also a few surprise announcements including the giving match challenge which is inspiring people to do their part to help LA’s mountain lions. Generous donors are currently matching donations, which can be made here, by individuals up to $50K to support the wildlife crossing.

P-22 Day Festival, LA, Los Angeles, Urban Wildlife Day, Wildlife Crossing, Mountain lions, California, P-22 Mountain lion, Hollywood,

Limited Edition Plush Toy – Save LA Cougars

For those wanting to go home with some cool P-22 merchandise, there was no short supply. Whether an adorable stuffed plushy complete with a GPS tracking collar, a new t-shirt, tote bag, or official collectors pin, 100% of the proceeds go back to support the wildlife crossing. If you couldn’t make it to the festival all merchandise can be purchased directly from the Save LA Cougars website.

If you missed P-22 Day this year not to worry, the festival will be back next year and If you are contemplating going I highly suggest you do, especially if you live in LA, are a fan of wildlife, connectivity and P-22.

Keep up to date on all things P-22 by following his facebook page and, for an update on the campaign and wildlife crossing be sure to check out a recent interview with Beth Pratt from In Focus California: SoCal.

The Interview

Polish historian and political scientist Jerzy Targalski conducts an interview with the Dutch  news program Niewsurr while his big orange tabby cat Lisio, steals the show – literally. I have no idea what he is talking about, but I don’t think that matters.

Whatever is being discussed, if there is a cat involved know that everything will be alright. Happy Caturday!

Via LaughingSquid

Caturday, News, Laughing Squid, Orange Tabby, Polish historian and political scientist Jerzy Targalsk,