About Pumas

The puma (Puma concolor) — also known as the cougar, mountain lion, panther and catamount — lives in 28 countries in the Americas. Despite its wide range, the puma remains poorly understood and its numbers are thought to be declining overall. Together, we are creating a new image of pumas, one that is integral to the landscapes and ecosystems supporting human communities of the Americas. All of our efforts, whether research, monitoring, education or outreach, promote coexistence between pumas and people.

A Cat of Many Names

Pumas hold the World Record for the animal with the most common names, which we estimate to be well over 100. These include cougar, mountain lion, panther and catamount.

© Mark Elbroch/Panthera

Widespread Range

The puma has the largest geographic range of any native terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere.

© Sebastian Kennerknecht/Pumapix

Ecologically Important

New research shows us pumas are more social and ecologically important than originally thought.

© Neal Wight

Florida Panthers

Pumas were eliminated from the entire eastern half of North America, except for a tiny population in Florida known as Florida panthers.

© Mark Elbroch/Panthera

Our Goals

Identify key landscapes in Latin America for conservation efforts

Ensure connectivity in fragmented habitats

Foster coexistence with people and competitors
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1st

range-wide conservation strategy developed for the species

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Collaborations

with six First Nations to study pumas on the Olympic Peninsula

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1st

ever range-wide assessment of the puma across the Americas

Our Impact

Where Do Pumas Live?

The puma has the largest geographic range of any native terrestrial mammal in the Western hemisphere, spanning 28 countries from southern Alaska down to the southern tip of Chile. Pumas inhabit every forest type across their range as well as montane deserts and open steppe grasslands.

  • Historic Puma Range
  • Current Puma Range
map showing the current and historic ranges of pumas

Puma FAQs

Question

What do pumas eat and how do they hunt?

Answer

While pumas eat a wide range of prey, they primarily eat large and medium-sized hoofed mammals, like deer and collared peccaries. Young pumas generally eat smaller prey, including American beavers, porcupines and raccoons, as they hone their skills and grow.

Question

What is the Florida Panther?

Answer

Pumas were eliminated from the entire eastern half of North America, except for a tiny population in Florida that was rediscovered in 1972. Today, the remnant puma population in Florida (known as the Florida panther) is endangered but recovering.

Question

Can pumas be all black?

Answer

No. Unlike jaguars and leopards, pumas are not known to exhibit melanism (commonly referred to as “black panther” individuals).

Question

What are the threats facing pumas?

Answer

In the United States, pumas are primarily threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, but they face numerous other challenges, including legal hunting, vehicle strikes and disease. In Latin America, they face the same threats, as well as significant illegal poaching and retaliatory killing by ranchers due to real and perceived attacks on livestock. Across Latin America, wide-scale decreases in wild prey availability, sometimes driven by poaching, further causes hardship for this species.

Question

How can we save pumas?

Answer

Panthera’s Puma Program has four main goals: 1) fill knowledge gaps about pumas, including their range-wide distribution and abundance, and their ecological contributions in ecosystems, 2) address habitat fragmentation impacting the interconnectedness of puma populations, 3) reduce legal and illegal puma hunting and trapping where it threatens the integrity of puma populations, 4) reduce human-puma conflict and increase human tolerance for pumas.

Ensure their tomorrow with your gift today.

© Nitish Madan