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With #5forBigCats in mind, here are five of Steve Winter’s wildest big cat encounters!
Winter tried out a new gizmo to get an in-your-face view of tigers … but what did the tigers think?
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Post by Max Allen – University of Wisconsin, Madison The Urban Caracal Project on the Cape Peninsula in South Africa recently captured and GPS-collared its 25th caracal in its quest to understand how these mid-sized African carnivores make their living in urban environments. Paola Bouley is on call as a first responder for lions in Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique. Rangers in eastern Russia are working tirelessly to protect the Ussuriskii State Nature Reserve, which is under threat from logging and poaching. Almost every obstacle surrounding big cat conservation in Africa is symptomatic of human population growth and the conversion of rangeland to reduce poverty. By Jeremy Swanson On this World Wildlife Day, we reflect on the past, look at the present, and talk about our dreams for the future, of lions and their roars in Tanzania and East Africa. As Beverly and I sit in the darkness in our camp in Duba in Botswana, we can see a shape out in the tall grass not far away. People that don’t live in Africa tend to learn about wildlife conservation in easy-to-understand terminology.
In June 2003 we followed a leopard to a fallen tree and, after a while, noticed a tiny movement in the branches. I’m thrilled to share that Wyoming legislature voted yesterday in favor of science and to protect the balance of nature on which our state so deeply depends.
This January, a bill called HB0012 was introduced in the Wyoming legislature that, if passed, would allow any person with a valid hunting license to kill a mountain lion using a trap or snare. Bosawas Biosphere Reserve in northeastern Nicaragua constitutes one of the last forested strongholds where it is possible to find all the medium and large mammal species that originally occurred along the entire length of Mesoamerica’s Caribbean region. But despite the plenitude of fauna and flora in the core areas of Bosawas, the reserve faces serious threats to its long-term survival, including deforestation of natural forest areas for cattle ranching and unsustainable levels of wildlife hunting.
We'll look for answers and post them here, along with regular updates about the science and conservation status of felids.
National Geographic supports scientific research of lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, and other big cats with a view to finding viable ways to protect them in their natural habitat. Reaching speeds up to 60 miles (96 kilometers) per hour, cheetahs are the fastest land animal. Sharp eyesight and raw speed make the cheetah a formidable hunter.Big Cats InitiativeNational Geographic is working to avert the extinction of lions, cheetahs, and other big cats with the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports innovative projects.
Cheetah mothers typically give birth to a litter of three cubs, all of which will stay with her for one and a half to two years before venturing off on their own. The king of the African savannah is in serious trouble because of massive conversion of the continent’s remaining wilderness to human land-use, according to a detailed study. Intensely shy and hovering on the edge of extinction, Iranian cheetahs are essentially impossible to see.
Thinking of snow leopards as domesticated—and thus dependent on people for food—may help save the dwindling species, one conservationist claims.
Beating Usain Bolt's best, Sarah the "polka-dotted missile" clocked the world's fastest recorded time for a 100-meter run.
Gus Mills has a passion for our large feline friends, and he's using that to help save them. This week, wildlife photojournalist Steve Winter’s story about cougars appears in the December issue of National Geographic. In 1999, Steve’s editor, Kathy Moran, asked photographers to email her their dream assignment.
This tiger was photographed with a remote camera in India’s Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. Steve photographed hordes of people reducing huge tracts of the tiger’s forest home to wasteland, hunting the same animals the cats preyed on—and poachers who were illegally hunting and trading cats and other endangered wildlife.
His first face-to-face encounters came in September 2007, when he began work on a National Geographic story on India’s Kaziranga National Park. He soon discovered that Kaziranga’s thriving tigers were the exception, that despite millions of dollars spent on conservation over decades, tiger numbers continued to plummet.


Steve wanted to investigate further, and returned to Asia in 2009 to shoot a tiger story, focusing on three subspecies in three countries: the Sumatran tiger in Indonesia, the Indochinese tiger in Thailand, and the Bengal tiger in India. Chief among them are initiatives pioneered by Panthera, a New York-based big cat conservation organization headed by Alan Rabinowitz, where Steve also serves as media director. Two years ago, Steve helped marry the big cat scientific expertise of Panthera with National Geographic’s media and educational powerhouse; the two organizations now collaborate on National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative.
Ten percent of our book’s profits will go to Panthera—and 100 percent of that money will go directly to field programs. Death is always near, and teamwork is essential on the Serengeti—even for a magnificent, dark-maned male known as C-Boy.
Go behind the scenes of recent National Geographic coverage of some of the world's top predators.
An Asiatic leopard cub in the Hukawng Valley in Myanmar (Burma) became an orphan after hunters killed its mother to sell her body parts for use in traditional medicine. A Bengal tiger called Sita gives her cubs an early morning bath in India’s Bandhavgarh National Park.
Three of the eight tiger subspecies became extinct in the 20th century, hunted as trophies and also for body parts that are used in traditional Chinese medicine. See how National Geographic is supporting on-the-ground conservation projects to save big cats. Laly Lichtenfeld aims to prevent lion-livestock conflict and to improve the lives of lions and people alike. One of fewer than 300 or so Asian lions left on Earth, this adult male in India's Gir Forest Reserve naps in the shade, away from the afternoon heat.
Lionesses are in charge of hunting for the pride and work together to bring down fast-running herd animals like wildebeest, zebra, and antelope. Once widespread across southern Asia and the Middle East, Asian lions are critically endangered.
Lion cubs stay with their mothers for up to three years, after which the female cubs remain with the pride while the males venture off to form their own prides. Fiercely protective of their prides, or family units, male lions patrol a vast territory normally covering about 100 square miles (260 square kilometers). Then he’s off to Auckland, Wellington, Sydney, Singapore, and, on World Lion Day (Auguest 10), Perth. She is a National Geographic Big Cats Initiative grantee and the director and co-founder of Projecto Leoes da Gorongosa. This nature sanctuary or Zapovednik is home to some of the last remaining Siberian tigers in the region. On a slightly contrarian note, Africa’s surge of human inhabitants is actually good news—at least insofar as the state of the human condition is concerned.
And somewhere in the shadows of a winter dusk that falls across towns in northern New England, they’re watching. But safeguarding animal species like lions is often more complex than mainstream media sound bites would have their audiences believe. HB0012, which would have allowed the trapping of mountain lions in Wyoming, failed to pass the House on Tuesday, February 9, 2016 at 2:23 pm. There are 38 species of felids, ranging from the seven-pound tabby in your lap to 500-pound Siberian tigers—with cheetahs, leopards, ocelots, and other striped and spotted cats in between. We'll also share National Geographic articles, videos, and behind-the-scenes features and keep you up to date on our Big Cats Initiative work to help big cats hang on in the wild.
Bloggers and commenters are required to observe National Geographic's community rules and other terms of service. However, running at this speed requires a lot of energy, and the cheetah cannot keep up a sprint for long.Big Cats InitiativeNational Geographic is working to avert the extinction of lions, cheetahs, and other big cats with the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports innovative projects. When interacting with her cubs, cheetah mothers purr, just like domestic cats.Big Cats InitiativeNational Geographic is working to avert the extinction of lions, cheetahs, and other big cats with the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports innovative projects. It was the first that NGM had ever done, and it didn’t take long to figure out why: these elusive cats are rarely seen. Rabinowitz was negotiating with Myanmar’s military junta, trying to convince them to protect the Hukawng Valley, a sprawling forest where the country’s few remaining tigers could thrive. This small reserve, nestled in the Brahmaputra floodplain, is home to the highest concentration of tigers anywhere in the world. We named the book after their “Tigers Forever” program, which applies a business model to wildlife conservation, recognizing that all tigers really need to survive is enough land and food; when you add boots-on-the-ground protection, strong laws, enforcement and careful monitoring, they bounce back.
Together, they are developing and implementing global strategies to save the most endangered cats, including tigers. When he first met biologist Jeff Sikich and asked for help finding a cougar in the Los Angeles area, he told him he wanted to get a shot of a cat under the Hollywood sign.


Combining the resources of National Geographic and the Cincinnati Zoo, and drawing on the skills of an incredible crew, we documented these amazing cats in a way that’s never been done before. Once ranging across the African continent and into Syria, Israel, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, and even northwest India, lions have declined to as few as 20,000 animals from about 450,000 just 50 years ago.Big Cats InitiativeNational Geographic is working to avert the extinction of lions, tigers, and other big cats with the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports innovative projects. In 2010, the entire valley—about the size of Vermont—was designated by the government of Myanmar as a tiger sanctuary, a major conservation step that protects big cats and other rare species throughout the territory.Big Cats InitiativeNational Geographic is working to avert the extinction of lions, tigers, and other big cats with the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports innovative projects. Loss of habitat, prey decline, pesticides, and even canine distemper and tuberculosis have caused lion numbers to quickly decline across Africa.Big Cats InitiativeNational Geographic is working to avert the extinction of lions, tigers, and other big cats with the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports innovative projects.
Except for darker, elongated spots, king cheetahs are genetically identical to other cheetahs. African lions are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).Big Cats InitiativeNational Geographic is working to avert the extinction of lions, tigers, and other big cats with the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports innovative projects. It is estimated that only 7,500 of these big cats remain, and those are under pressure as the wide-open grasslands they favor are disappearing at the hands of human settlers.Big Cats InitiativeNational Geographic is working to avert the extinction of lions, tigers, and other big cats with the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports innovative projects. Scientists connect the drastic decreases in lion numbers in many cases to burgeoning human populations.Big Cats InitiativeNational Geographic is working to avert the extinction of lions, tigers, and other big cats with the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports innovative projects. Though the leopard is the most widespread of all big cats, many of their populations are endangered, especially those outside Africa.Big Cats InitiativeNational Geographic is working to avert the extinction of lions, tigers, and other big cats with the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports innovative projects.
Conservationists estimate that unless the current decline is checked, the number of lions will continue to drop significantly.Big Cats InitiativeNational Geographic is working to avert the extinction of lions, tigers, and other big cats with the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports innovative projects. Geographically isolated lion populations can lead to inbreeding and a lack of genetic diversity, further endangering the species.Big Cats InitiativeNational Geographic is working to avert the extinction of lions, tigers, and other big cats with the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports innovative projects. The leopard is so strong and comfortable in trees that it often hauls its kills into the branches.Big Cats InitiativeNational Geographic is working to avert the extinction of lions, tigers, and other big cats with the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports innovative projects. All five remaining tiger subspecies are endangered.Big Cats InitiativeNational Geographic is working to avert the extinction of lions, tigers, and other big cats with the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports innovative projects. As human populations in sub-Saharan Africa expand, the amount of hunting space and habitats for lions decreases.Big Cats InitiativeNational Geographic is working to avert the extinction of lions, tigers, and other big cats with the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports innovative projects. Cubs join the pride when they can move well enough to keep up—after about three months. Over the past few years, non-profit groups, the national and international public, and the U.S. The deep green eyes of the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) have the advantage in the region’s dark spruce-fir, or boreal, forest. He was working on his first story for National Geographic magazine (NGM) on an exotic bird, the quetzal, living in a tiny cabin atop a mountain in the Guatemalan cloud forest. He was on an around-the-world trip after dropping out of an urban renewal program at Indiana University, trying to figure out what to do with his life. But a gold rush had brought waves of people swarming into the valley, and the threats that faced tigers became the story. It’s perhaps the last place where they still share the land with elephants, rhinos, deer and the entire array of creatures they once lived beside. By adding cooperation among researchers and conservation organizations to the mix (wildlife NGOs traditionally compete, fighting over funding), tiger populations in key sites in Thailand, India and Sumatra have stabilized or are increasing. The genetic homogeneity of cheetah populations may make them more vulnerable to disease.Big Cats InitiativeNational Geographic is working to avert the extinction of lions, tigers, and other big cats with the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports innovative projects. Lions are unique among big cats in forming groups.Big Cats InitiativeNational Geographic is working to avert the extinction of lions, tigers, and other big cats with the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports innovative projects. Over the last hundred years, hunting and forest destruction have reduced tiger populations from hundreds of thousands of animals to perhaps fewer than 4,000.Big Cats InitiativeNational Geographic is working to avert the extinction of lions, tigers, and other big cats with the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports innovative projects.
At that time, several lionesses bring together their litters, usually born within a few weeks of each other. Fish & Wildlife Service itself, have been rallying the government to protect lions under the Endangered Species Act. But Sikich tracked a satellite-collared cougar named “P-22” for months; he eventually wandered into Griffiths Park, in LA. Alan Rabinowitz, the man who had helped create the world’s first jaguar reserve in Belize, the Cockscombe Basin Wildlife Preserve. Flash forward 20 years later, and he was shooting his “dream assignment,” camping at 15,000+ feet in the Himalayas, with temperatures dipping to 40 below at night, trying to photograph an animal that he would never see—though he did capture images of their secret lives using remote cameras. With Rabinowitz’s advice—and remote cameras set in places where jaguars walked trails or marked territory—he did get the pictures. Two days later, as he sat in a blind high up in a tree, he glimpsed a huge black tail hanging—too large for a howler monkey.



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