Panthera’s Puma Program is working to better understand and protect pumas in key parts of their range, while simultaneously combatting the old mythology that perpetuates the puma as a solitary, dangerous predator.
In the southernmost Chilean Patagonia, Panthera is working to address illegal puma poaching and mitigate human-puma conflict. Panthera is currently focusing efforts on the area surrounding Torres del Paine National Park, which sees both incredible levels of poaching and substantial predation on sheep suffered by ranch owners. Panthera’s work in this region consists of two interacting tenets: better understanding puma numbers and behaviors within the park, and protecting pumas outside the park by working toward solutions to prevent puma predation on sheep (and subsequent retaliatory killing).
We're supporting a proposed expansion of the International Biosphere Reserve to include surrounding ranches by testing, monitoring, and promoting guard dogs, creating new guidelines for viewing pumas in and around the park, and studying density and population dynamics of pumas using scat-detection dog and drone censuses. We will also do an economic assessment of puma ecotourism activities.
Previously, we were based in the southern Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in and around Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where in collaboration with Craighead Beringia South, Panthera’s Teton Cougar Project focused on collecting comprehensive data about the behavior and ecology of pumas over a 17-year period simultaneous with wolf recolonization. Using satellite-GPS collars, motion-triggered cameras, and other novel research methods, our scientists tracked puma movements, recorded new behaviors in the wild, identified dens, and monitored kittens from an early age. The team's extraordinary body of research work is among the most comprehensive ever compiled on the species and comprises much of the recent science elucidating these elusive creatures.
Today, we are conducting a large-scale, collaborative project on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, where we partner with Tribal Nations to study mountain lion dispersal and the effects of habitat fragmentation on wildlife populations. The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe co-leads the project with us. Additionally, Panthera works in and near Torres del Paine National Park in southern Chile, where we are focused on puma-rancher conflict, supporting safe puma tourism, and determining the relative abundance and genetic health of the local population.