The Threat: Habitat Loss and Fragmentation

"Young male puma crossing a public road."
Young male puma crossing a public road on a private ranch land on the outskirts of Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile.
© Nick Garbutt

Wild cats need large home ranges with abundant prey to survive and thrive. Some big cats travel thousands of kilometers each year in search of mates, prey and suitable habitat. Disruptions to their habitat can lead to starvation, increased conflict with humans and genetic isolation.

Alongside communities, partner organizations and governments, we connect and protect critical habitats to ensure the genetic flow between wild cat populations and reduce threats like vehicle strikes or retaliatory killing. For example, Panthera’s groundbreaking Jaguar Corridor Initiative aims to keep jaguar populations connected across their range from northern Mexico to northern Argentina. We also study and protect wildlife corridors for wild cats across North America, Africa and Asia.

In agricultural landscapes, such as the cattle ranches of South America and the oil palm plantations of Southeast Asia, Panthera works to understand how wild cats survive in these highly modified environments. By collaborating directly with landowners large and small, Panthera strives to secure safe passage for the wild cats that navigate these landscapes as part of their daily lives, as well as those who use them as corridors to connect with cats much further away.

Our Impact

One of the greatest threats to wildlife corridors is human development that blocks wild cat movement or kills cats as they attempt to cross. Panthera studies the impacts of development, especially roadways, on wild cat movement and mortality, and advises relevant agencies on making highways and other obstructing infrastructure wildlife-friendly. This includes innovations like building wildlife under- or overpasses. We have:

  • Worked with six First Nations tribes in the Pacific Northwest in the U.S. to study puma and bobcat movement (and how the nearby interstate highway impedes this movement);
  • Studied and advised on highway crossing points in Costa Rica and advised on wildlife-friendly adaptations to the Reventazon Dam; and
  • Identified snow leopard habitats that can survive climate change so that corridors to those habitats can be prioritized and protected.

Learn more about habitat loss and fragmentation:

"Wild cat on ground"
© Luis Carlos Hernandez Junes ACG
"Group photo of Panthera team in Costa Rica"
© Panthera