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Christmas Cubs for a Happy New Year

News from the Field from Pride in Our Prides Lion Program in Botswana by Florian J Weise – Pride in Our Prides, CLAWS Conservancy It is still dark as our vehicle rattles down the dirt track.  Dust everywhere.  The smell of camphor and wild sage surrounds us.  We are on our way into the Okavango…

Rapid-Response Unit Saves Lions

Rosa was a victim of the illegal bushmeat trade, a little know yet relentless and growing pressure facing lion populations across their range in Africa. This is our story of how we found her, removed a wire snag from her leg, and nursed her back to health.

Explorers and Students Team Up to Start the Year Off With a ROAR

Sharing firsthand experiences and lessons from the field, National Geographic Big Cats Initiative explorers are helping spread their boundless knowledge and affection for the wild to the next generation.

Wild Snow Leopard Prey Recovers Thanks to Reserve

Post submitted by Matt Fiechter, Snow Leopard Trust 18 years ago, we established our first grazing-free village reserve for wild snow leopard prey in partnership with the community of Kibber, India. Today, the area’s population of bharal, a wild sheep that’s among the snow leopard’s preferred prey species, is about four times higher than it was…

New Threats Emphasize Need for Proactive Amazon Jaguar Conservation Planning

Now facing hunting pressure to meet a growing demand for trade in its parts, the jaguar occupies a special place in the history, culture, and traditions of Latin America. Revered for centuries by indigenous peoples for its strength and agility, the jaguar may well depend for its continued existence upon the care and cooperation of those who continue to live with this extraordinary animal.

The Passing of a Titan

Contrary to popular belief, mountain lions are not all the same. They are as distinctive in personality as we are. Some are bold, others stick to the shadows. Some are social, others avoid interactions. Some hunt elk, some prefer smaller fare. Some are productive, successful mothers that rear numerous kittens to young adults, and others…

Why International Snow Leopard Day Matters

It is amazing that we still know so little about one of the world’s great cats. However, our knowledge and efforts on behalf of what was once a near mountain phantom are growing, even as the snow leopard helps to bring communities, government, and the international community together. On this International Snow Leopard Day, there is a growing sense that we may be able to save one of the last great wildernesses in Asia, and the great cat that defines it.

How One U.S. Zoo is Supporting African Wildlife Conservation

Despite the sensation of  tough gravel, I never expected a rhinoceros to feel so soft around the back of the ears and mouth.  Staff at the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, New York had graciously allowed me to come face to face with Bill, the resident southern white rhinoceros who, funnily enough, was more interested in being petted than…

One Snow Leopard’s Journey

In honor of International Snow Leopard Day, I wanted to share the story of one snow leopard in particular, Shirin, and her incredible journey. Last winter, I received one of those phone calls that never fail to make me tear up: a snow leopard had been illegally captured and sold in the eastern Pamirs of…

Keeping peace with predators can cut livestock deaths

When predator animals like tigers, lions, bears and wolves attack livestock animals like goats, cows and horses, you need to kill off the predators to reduce livestock deaths, right? Wrong.

African Lions on the Brink: A Conversation with Lion Expert Craig Packer

With roars that rend the African night, lions have captured our imaginations since the dawn of humankind. “Lions have long been celebrated in art and literature throughout the world,” says ecologist Craig Packer, National Geographic Explorer and Expeditions Council grantee, and director of the University of Minnesota Lion Center. In the face of habitat loss and…

First Photographic Evidence of Snow Leopards in Kyrgyz Ala-Too Range

Researchers have captured the elusive big cat on camera in Shamshy, a former hunting concession that has been co-managed as a wildlife sanctuary by the Kyrgyz government and conservationists since 2015.

Q&A: Extreme Drought in South Africa’s Kruger National Park: How is Wildlife Faring?

Bone-dry winds are blowing across South Africa’s Kruger National Park (KNP), uprooting savanna grasses and whirling them like tumbleweeds across a sere landscape. How is the park’s world-renowned wildlife faring in an extreme drought? To find out, I talked with Izak Smit, Science Manager for Systems Ecology at South African National Parks (SANParks), which oversees KNP.…

Cracking Down on the Pet Cheetah Trade

Cheetahs on cars. Cheetahs in boats. Cheetahs in mansions. The growing cheetah pet trade, spurred on by social media posts of wealthy owners posing in photos with their exotic pets, has gained the attention of the international community. Cheetahs face major threats from habitat loss and fragmentation, but the exotic pet trade in the last…

Solving the Mystery of the 18th-Century Killer “Beast of Gévaudan”

From 1764 to 1767, in the historical region of Gévaudan, located in southern France, and in adjacent areas, about one hundred children, youths, and women were killed by a so-called “Beast”. Numerous other humans survived the attacks, many of them seriously injured. The series of attacks has been confirmed by a great variety of historical documents and is not called into question by scientists.

Historians claim that wolves, or a hybrid of a wolf and a domestic dog, had attacked the victims; the “hybrid-assumption” is based on the description of a canid, shot in June 1767, that was said to have strange morphological characteristics. However, a critical evaluation of historical texts, including the publications of the French abbots François Fabre and Pierre Pourcher, revealed that neither this animal, nor any other wolf killed in Gévaudan, had anything to do with the attacks of the Beast.

In this post, German biologist Karl-Hans Taake posits that The Beast was a very different carnivore to a wolf.