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.

Fighting Wildlife Crime: Rangers Face Serious Dangers (Video)

There are many challenges rangers face, says Fyson Suwedi, in this video. A Senior Assistant Parks and Wildlife Officer in Malawi’s Lengwe National Park, he should know. “Poachers look at rangers as obstacles. They can do anything to make sure they get what they want. They can kill the rangers,” he says. The video is part of a series featuring voices of those fighting against organized wildlife crime.

Cameras Reveal the Secret Lives of a Mountain Lion Family: Filmmaker Q&A with Sharon Negri

From Persecution to Coexistence: An Image Makeover for America’s Lion Article by Rucha Chitnis This summer, America woke up to the unequivocally endearing footage of five mountain lion kittens born in the Santa Susana Mountains, just north of Los Angeles.  They made national headlines. “They nailed their Hollywood-area debut with adorable hisses, deep blue eyes…

Fighting Wildlife Crime: “There is Hope” (Video)

Wildlife does not belong to an individual,” says Julius Kamwendwit Cheptei in this video interview. Assistant Director of the Southern Conservation Area, Kenya Wildlife Service Parks and Preserves, Cheptei is a veteran of the struggle to protect his country’s wildlife from poachers, ivory traders, and other criminals. For Cheptei, wild animals belong to everyone, so everyone should be involved in fighting wildlife crime.

“Success is collective…and there’s a lot of hope because everybody all over the world is rallying behind the same. Without hope, we will not be doing what we are doing. There is hope because we come together to preserve it. There is hope because we are fighting for a common good. So there is hope for the survival of these animals. Hope is there for me, for you, for my children, and your children, too. There is hope.”

Fighting Wildlife Crime: Unsung Heroes (Video)

Wildlife trafficking today is unlike anything the world has ever seen before,” says Bryan Christy in this video. The award-winning investigative journalist and National Geographic Fellow adds: “Rare animals are being exploited by criminal syndicates who have access to advanced technology, advanced weapon systems. There’s a huge imbalance in terms of the resources Law Enforcement have…

What to Expect at CITES: A Sneak Peak at Upcoming Endangered Species Meeting

Even for experienced eyes, sifting through the roughly 200 documents to be considered at the upcoming Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) 17th Conference of Parties (CoP17) is a challenge.

CITES protects about 5,600 animal species and 30,000 plant species through restrictions on commercial trade, and much discussion at the meeting, to be held September 24 to October 5 in Johannesburg, South Africa, will concentrate on whether to tighten or loosen trade restrictions for specific species.

Uniting Against Organized Wildlife Crime

Law enforcement agencies, NGOs, and business leaders gathered from across the world in Washington this week to share information and expertise and organize a concerted strategy to combat the global scourge of wildlife trafficking.

The unprecedented collaboration was heralded at the National Geographic Society’s headquarters on Tuesday, at an event held against the backdrop of recent news of a catastrophic plunge in the last wild populations of African elephants and other species. The meeting also set the stage for CITES CoP17, a conference in Johannesburg at the end of this month that will bring more than a hundred governments together to review the planet’s biggest wildlife challenges and opportunities.