Happy Mother’s Day! Today, we are celebrating mothers, both feline and human. Human mothers nurture, take care of us and inspire a new generation. The same is true for cat mothers. However, these cat mothers need our help to raise their young and bring forth a new generation. This Mother’s Day, we are highlighting some of the mothers and young cubs and kittens from our project sites. We appreciate these cat mothers each and every day, but this Mother’s Day, we celebrate them for helping bring forth their kittens and cubs — and new hope for wild cats everywhere.
Let’s begin in Chilean Patagonia. Beneath the peaks of Torres del Paine National Park, pumas roam but are still threatened by people killing pumas in retaliation or preemptively to protect livestock. Provincial bounties paid for puma skins in nearby Argentina also threaten the larger, connected puma population in southern South America.
Here, an attentive mother keeps watching while her tiny kitten's nurse. Their pale coats blend well amidst the dry grass and exposed rock so common in southern Patagonia. But a mother’s work is never done —when she is not nursing, she is watching for danger or searching and securing the food which will produce the milk that fuels her kittens’ growth. These kittens will remain with her for approximately 14 months, and some remain with their mothers for up to 2 years. What a dedicated mother!
Next, we go to Zambia. Here, we work hard to protect populations of wild cats, one of which being the lion. Our camera traps caught this image of a mother and her young cub strolling through the night in Kafue National Park. What an encouraging sight for the lions of the region!
Off to one of the world's most incredible wetlands. In the Brazilian Pantanal, mother jaguars are raising their young. This jaguar named "Ti" and her two cubs were spotted by our partner, the Jaguar ID Project. The male and female cubs were small in September, but they have been steadily growing thanks to their mother's care — the male cub is already larger than his mother.
In the Sabi Sand Wildtuin, South Africa, another mother shows her dedication to her young. In this area, Panthera conducts long-term research on leopard biology and behavior to inform conservation. This image shows a little female cub and her mother, Schotia, captured on camera near the Singita Boulders Lodge. Schotia has previously raised two male cubs, so we’re very excited that she now has a young female.
We are all very thankful for these cat mothers. Whether puma, lion, leopard or jaguar, our work as conservationists would not be possible without their dedication and hard work. Without cat mothers, we would not have a new generation of cats to protect.