October 2011 Newsletter

Panthera’s Jaguar Conservation Projects Featured in The Smithsonian Magazine

Smithsonian Magazine has just released its October issue with the article 'The Jaguar Freeway' featured on the cover. The story covers Panthera’s Pantanal Jaguar Project and Jaguar Corridor Initiative along with insight into the founding of these programs by Panthera's founder and Chairman, Dr. Thomas Kaplan, and Panthera's CEO, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz. The article covers the incredible flora and fauna of the Brazilian Pantanal - home to the world’s highest density of jaguars - and discusses Panthera’s work to protect the largest and most iconic cat of the Americas. Read how the jaguar is being protected today with the help of Panthera's scientists and local partners who are using innovative methods, such as creating model conservation ranches in the Pantanal, to show how jaguars and ranching can go hand in hand. Read The Smithsonian Magazine article, ‘The Jaguar Freeway.’

Donate to save jaguars.

Watch the video below to hear Panthera Media Director Steve Winter explain how he captured the stunning images of jaguars featured in the article.

Book Release: Carnivores of the World Field Guide by Panthera President Dr. Luke Hunter

We are proud to share that Panthera President Dr. Luke Hunter's latest book, 'Carnivores of the World: A Field Guide,' has just been released and is now available for purchase.


Carnivores of the World is the first comprehensive field guide covering all 245 terrestrial carnivore species, from the iconic polar bear to the world's smallest carnivore, the least weasel, which is small enough to squeeze through a wedding ring. Written for all audiences, this book provides the most scientific and current information for each species, including their distribution and habitat, feeding ecology, behavior, reproduction, threats, and conservation status.

Watch the interview with Dr. Hunter to learn about the content and creation of this ground-breaking field guide, including Dr. Hunter’s collaborations with experts around the world to gather the most up-to-date and scientifically accurate information on all 245 carnivore species. Hear Dr. Hunter explain the most surprising information he came across during his research (including a story about a female polar bear who swam constantly for nearly 10 days in 35-43°F water!) and share which animals he would most like to encounter in the wild.

Also learn about the book’s stunning illustrations by wildlife artist Priscilla Barrett, the lifespan of this kind of Field Guide, and the widespread audiences that can benefit from reading this book.

Access all of the Field Guide maps and get more information on Carnivores of the World: A Field Guide at www.panthera.org/carnivoreguide.

Panthera’s Letter to Science Magazine - Tiger Conservation: Trust Tradition

Science Magazine has just published a letter to the editor written by Panthera's Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, Dr. Luke Hunter, and Dr. Joseph Smith in response to a letter published in August (Science Magazine, 12 August 2011, pg. 822) entitled “Restoring Tigers to the Caspian region.” Read what Panthera’s tiger experts had to say about the tiger conservation methods suggested in last month’s magazine edition, and what they have found

to be the most successful strategies to save wild tigers.

Panthera Response:

In their letter, “Restoring Tigers to the Caspian region” (12 August, p. 822), C. A. Driscoll et al. propose the reintroduction of tigers into the historic range of the extinct Caspian tiger. Driscoll et al. assert that new approaches such as this one are needed because “traditional conservation approaches are proving insufficient.” We disagree.

Tiger biologists and conservationists have shown how to save tigers. So-called traditional approaches—including law enforcement, scientific assessments, monitoring of tiger and prey populations, and community outreach—are demonstrably effective in reversing tiger declines when properly implemented by conservation nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and government agencies (1–6).

New approaches should always be considered in our efforts to save the tiger, but the focus must be on addressing the most critical threats to those remaining tigers that survive in little more than four dozen source populations throughout their range (7). The immediate solution lies in convincing NGOs, conservationists, donor agencies, and government authorities to properly implement the proven best practices of tiger conservation: the traditional approaches. If we are considering reconstructive surgery for the tiger, then let’s stop the bleeding first.

Panthera CEO Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, Panthera President Dr. Luke Hunter, and Panthera Tiger Program Director Dr. Joseph Smith

Panthera’s First Known Footage of African Golden Cat Receives International Media Attention

Last month, Panthera shared groundbreaking news about the discovery of the first known video footage of one of the least known and most elusive wild cats in the world – the African golden cat. Taken in Gabon by Panthera Kaplan scholar Laila Bahaa-el-din, this camera trap footage was filmed as part of a research project to uncover more about how African golden cats are impacted by various levels of human activity, such as logging and hunting, which are prevalent throughout the golden cat’s range in Central and West Africa.

Since their release last month, these exclusive videos have been widely circulated by various reputable international and national media organizations, including Reuters, CNN, Huffington Post, National Geographic, Animal Planet, Mongabay, Digital Journal, and others.

In one captivating video, a young male African golden cat sits just inches from Panthera’s camera and looks directly into the lens, continuing to pose and groom itself. In the other sequence, what is believed to be the same cat is shown running and leaping as it hunts a bat at night. Watch the videos below, along with a narrated video by National Geographic that includes Panthera’s video footage and photos of African golden cats.

Watch the original African golden cat videos

African Golden Cat Video Coverage

Read Panthera’s Press Release.

Learn more about this story and see camera trap photos of African golden cats

Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Coordinator, Dr. Esteban Payán Garrido, Lectures at TEDx Conference in Panama City

This week, Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Coordinator for our Northern South America Program, Dr. Esteban Payán Garrido, spoke at the 2011 TEDx conference in Panama City, Panama. Dr. Payán presented a lecture entitled “Un jaguar por tu vida” or “A Jaguar for Your Life,” during which he discussed the concept of Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative. Specifically, Dr. Payán discussed the program’s aim to link core jaguar populations within human landscapes from northern Argentina to Mexico, preserving the genetic integrity of jaguars can live in the wild forever.

This year’s TEDx conference theme was “Ideas that unite the world,” and all lectures were given in Spanish and streamed live on the web. Dr. Payán’s lecture will be posted online as soon as possible. Existing as an independently organized TED event, the TEDx program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level.

About TED

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer -- TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize. The annual TED conferences bring together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less).

Curious Cats Caught on Camera

In March, Panthera’s snow leopard scientists placed 20 camera traps throughout Mongolia’s rugged Tost Mountains in hopes of capturing new data that would inform Panthera’s snow leopard conservation initiatives. Today, we are excited to share a number of our ‘best of’ Spring camera trap photos.

Although the snow leopard has been given the nickname of ‘Asia’s Mountain Ghost,’ Panthera’s scientists captured many images of not-so-shy snow leopards demonstrating their characteristic cat curiosity by examining the camera traps with their eyes, noses, and tongues.

Watch the camera trap videos of these snow leopards in action.

Panthera’s scientists were thrilled to discover dozens of photos showing approximately five new and unidentified wild snow leopards.

These camera trap images are invaluable, as they have provided Panthera’s scientists with new data about the size and distribution of snow leopard populations in the Tost Mountains, their proximity to and interactions with local human communities, snow leopard mother and cub interactions, including the amount of time devoted to rearing litters and mothers’ reproductive success, and much more information. In addition, these photos signify hope for the future of snow leopards, whose numbers are currently estimated to hover between 3,500-7,000 individual cats, at best.

In order to grow the world’s dwindling snow leopard populations, Panthera is working in partnership with the Snow Leopard Trust to carry out the Mongolia-based snow leopard research study, which today stands as the longest-running, comprehensive ecological study of the snow leopard. Panthera is also working throughout the snow leopard’s range in Asia to implement similar conservation initiatives involving buy-in from local communities and local and national governments and NGOs.

Click here to learn more about Panthera’s Snow Leopard Program.

Snow Leopard Camera Trap Videos – Mongolia’s Tost Mountains, Spring 2011
Best viewed in fullscreen

A snow leopard mother, named Suhder, & her two cubs investigate a Panthera/Snow Leopard Trust camera trap in South Gobi, Mongolia. Our scientists estimate that the 2 cubs were at least born in the spring of 2010. Unlike the other videos, this was taken in the Summer of 2011. Suhder was originally collared in May 2009, but her collar slipped off after just a day. Panthera’s team hopes to re-collar Suhder in the near future.

An unidentified snow leopard mother and her two cubs traveling together at night stop to check out a Panthera/Snow Leopard Trust camera trap.

This beautiful, unidentified snow leopard was first photographed as a cub in the Summer of 2009, and is shown here fully grown.

A new, unidentified (and sleepy) snow leopard sits in front of a Panthera/Snow Leopard Trust camera trap…then comes in for a closer look.

Khashaa, a snow leopard monitored through the Panthera/Snow Leopard Trust project in Mongolia, passes by a camera trap with her two cubs. Khashaa’s collar recently dropped off as scheduled and Panthera’s scientists hope to re-collar her this Fall.

Click here to see more snow leopard camera trap videos taken this Spring in Mongolia.

A Google Search Ending In Success: Wild Jaguar Scat

One of the critical (but not so glamorous) research activities required of Panthera’s scientists involves the collection of wild cat scat, or poo. Panthera’s field staff frequently set out on foot to track down scat, which is then sent to the laboratories at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City where it is analyzed to reveal genetic data about individuals (their range, abundance, diet, and genetic diversity).

This information is particularly valuable in Central and South America, where Panthera is working to establish the Jaguar Corridor that links core jaguar populations from northern Argentina to Mexico and prevents inbreeding to ensure the genetic integrity of the species. Luckily, Panthera’s scientists in Costa Rica have the help of a secret scat search engine, a dog named Google.

Google’s first wild scat.

Google joined Panthera’s team back in 2010 and was certified as an official jaguar scat detecting dog by the Miami K-9 Academy in January of 2011. We are now proud to share that not long after this achievement, and a thorough training period, Google has successfully tracked down his first wild felid scat!

Google’s first successful trip at La Selva Biological Station and at the border between Braulio Carillo National Park and a private forested farm resulted in three scat finds belonging to cougars – another wild cat with which jaguars share their range throughout some regions of Latin America. Soon after on a six hour hike in the Rara Avis Rainforest Reserve with Panthera’s field scientists to check camera traps, Google located an additional six cat scats, including one belonging to a jaguar and ocelot and four belonging to a cougar. Starting to show off, Google tracked down four additional cat scats in Rar Avis a few days later, which are yet to be analyzed, but likely belong to a jaguar, ocelot, and cougar. To top it off, we’ve just received a report that Google tracked down another cougar scat last Friday in the Selva Verde Lodge region!

These skills are sure to make future scat searches far more efficient and accurate, and will help shape Panthera’s jaguar conservation initiatives in Costa Rica and beyond.

Locations of Google’s Scat Finds in Costa Rica
Click map to enlarge

Photos of Google

Google’s Media Coverage

Panthera’s Coverage on Google

Scientific Publications

  • Technical Manual in Portuguese - Estratégias Anti-Predação para Frazendas de Pecuária na América Latina: um Guia.
    Authors: Rafael Hoogesteijn & Almira Hoogesteijn. View this Publication.

See more Scientific Publications

Upcoming Events

  • Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival - October 3-7. View Event.

  • Newseum Exhibition: Steve Winter's POYi Award-Winning Photos - Through October 31.
    View Event.

  • The Moth Town Hall Storytelling Celebration with Panthera CEO Dr. Alan Rabinowitz - November 2. View Event.

  • Steve Winter National Geographic Lecture: On the Trail of the Tiger - November 30.
    View Event.