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Cats of Cuba

It’s not easy being a cat in Cuba.

There’s no flea medicine, no cat litter and no catnip. Historically, they’ve been relegated to second-class status after dogs. During the “special period” of the early 90s when food was scarce following the breakup of the Soviet Union, they disappeared from the streets. And occasionally, they’ve been used in Santeria ceremonies.

But like many aspects of life in Cuba today, things are changing. And for cats, that change is for the better.

How the National Geographic Society Has Rebooted to Help Restore Earth’s Natural Equilibrium

Six months into his new position as National Geographic chief scientist, Jonathan Baillie, the former conservation programmes director of the Zoological Society of London, outlined his “scientific vision” for how the National Geographic Society would work to help create a a planet that’s going to provide for 9 billion people — and all forms of other life. “How do we do this with 9 billion people on the planet? This is the great challenge we all face. National Geographic now needs to think about its unique role helping us face this challenge,” Baillie told hundreds of National Geographic explorers and staff gathered at the Society’s headquarters for this week’s Explorers Festival.

National Geographic Explorers a ‘Secret Weapon’ to Change the World, Says Society President Gary Knell

“This is truly National Geographic’s moment, because as Neil deGrasse Tyson says, the great thing about science is that it’s true, whether you believe it or not,” National Geographic Society President and CEO Gary E. Knell said at the opening of the Explorers Festival (#NatGeoFest) at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. today.

Knell told hundreds of National Geographic explorers and staff that the Society had been through a major transition that transformed the organization, “a transformation that better positioned National Geographic to address the multiple challenges facings its future, but more importantly, facing our planet. We figured out a way to support your critical work in a more direct way and tackle those issues by connecting and integrating our multimedia platforms. And today the content that we are generating, the stories we’re telling, the grants we’re making, the actions we’re taking are more needed and important than ever before.”

VIDEO: Tiny lion cub has a message for the world

A few days ago we were greeted for the first time – most dramatically – by a 3.5 week old lion cub born to Gorongosa National Park’s “Sungue Pride.” Gorongosa’s wildlife is rebounding, lions too. National Geographic’s Big Cat Initiative has been instrumental in this recovery. In 2016 we established Lion Anti-Poaching Patrols and a Rapid-Response Veterinary Unit and since September not a single lion we’ve been monitoring has been caught in a poacher’s snare; This compared to 1/3 lions killed or maimed by snares in prior years. A new record. Keep roaring, baby!

To Protect Endangered Carnivores, We Must Also Protect Livestock

Post submitted by Matthias Fiechter of Snow Leopard Trust.  A conservation catch 22: Increasing the number wild prey animals is key for healthy snow leopard populations. But it doesn’t solve the problem of livestock predation – on the contrary.

How beloved pets become invasive predators – an interview with Dr. Peter Marra

The crisis with outdoor cats continues to get worse and worse, and many people aren’t even aware that there’s an issue. Dr. Peter P. Marra, a leading ornithologist and conservationist, is director of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, is the co-author, with Chris Santella, of the book Cat Wars: The Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer (Princeton University Press, 2016). The book is an attempt to reach as many people as possible with the data and the science so we can reverse this problem.

National Geographic Emerging Explorer Ricardo Moreno Giving a Voice to Panama’s Jaguars

This post is part of an ongoing series of interviews with the 2017 class of National Geographic Emerging Explorers.

Paws and Noses at the Forefront of the Fight Against Illegal Wildlife Trade in Central Asia

The fall of 2014 was difficult: an unpleasant incident occurred that however created an opportunity to tackle crossborder illegal trafficking in wildlife in Central Asia in an innovative way. Intelligence from our informant network pointed to illegal trophy hunts in Tajik National Park and trophies illegally exported from Tajikistan into Kyrgyzstan and onwards to Russia…

Feral Cat Debate: The Case for Large-scale, non-lethal Interventions

American citizens, like people the world over, are fascinated by cats, big and small. We admire them for their strength, their stealth, and their hunting prowess, and for their ability to blend in to their surroundings. And in the case of domestic cats, we value them for their companionship and the unique traits that make…

Feral Cat debate: Trap-Neuter-Return Is Sound Public Policy

By Peter J. Wolf, Cat Initiatives Analyst for Best Friends Animal Society It was typical of the dog park interactions one so often hears about: I thought to ask the pet’s name but not his owner’s. In this case, though, it wasn’t a dog park—or a dog. The unidentified cat owner and I were waiting,…

Scientists Successfully Collar Three More Wild Snow Leopards in Mongolia

Post submitted by Matthias Fiechter.  GPS collars will allow Snow Leopard Trust researchers to better understand the elusive species. In a remarkably successful expedition, three more snow leopards have been equipped with GPS collars in the Tost Nature Reserve in Mongolia’s South Gobi province this April. Two of them are male, and one is female. They’re…

Are we coming or going? Stakeholder engagement in the four corners

Post submitted by Lise Hanssen, Project Coordinator of Kwando Carnivore Project If there was checklist for setting up a lion conflict mitigation project in rural Namibia (or anywhere else I would imagine), first on the list would be engaging with the affected community.  In the case of the Chobe floodplains, this means seven conservancies with…

Exploring the use of five types of puma vocalizations

Post submitted by Max Allen – University of Wisconsin Communication is an important component of animal behavior, but is difficult to study in the wild. This is especially true for cryptic wildlife species, such as carnivores, that are difficult to observe. Recent advances in the technology of motion-triggered video cameras now enable researchers to remotely…

The Lion and the Cow: Conservation, Pastoralism, and Conflict

The recurring thought of lions and cows keeps interrupting my focus on a humid evening as I sit down to dinner outside a small hotel overlooking the din of downtown Kampala. I’m conversing with a Dodoth gentleman of the Karamojong tribe in the northeastern region of Uganda—a place with little infrastructure and an abundance of wildlife. Loupa Pius is a project…

Marching For (Cat) Science

I grew up catching animals of all sorts. I kept buckets full of jumping spiders, turtles and snakes. At five-years-old, under the careful instruction of my grandfather, I miraculously caught a rabbit in a flimsy butterfly net attached to the end of a bamboo shoot. After parading it proudly about the house, I released it…