SCIENCE & CONSERVATION
The Cougar Fund was founded by photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen and writer Cara Blessley Lowe twenty years ago in response to the presence of a mother lion and her three kittens who appeared on the National Elk Refuge outside Jackson Wyoming.
The lion family stayed for forty-two days and gave the chance of a lifetime for up to 15,000 people to observe them in the wild during that time. Tom and Cara realized that ‘Spirit’, as the mother cougar came to be known, could have been killed by hunters. When kittens are too young to accompany their mother as she goes to hunt for prey, she will often leave them in a place such as the cave on the elk refuge. If she does not return, because she has been killed for ‘sport’, the kittens will die a slow death, collateral to the harvest mortality limit set by the wildlife managers. Because there was so little interest in the fate of mountain lions at that time in the rocky mountain west, Tom and Cara launched The Cougar Fund as an educational and advocacy organization. Their intent, together with their fellow board members, including renowned primatologist and United Nations Peace Ambassador, Dr Jane Goodall, was to raise awareness of the plight of cougars wherever they roam throughout the Americas from the southernmost regions of Alaska to the tip of South America.
At the close of 2020 The Cougar Fund was thrilled to announce that the new year would bring with it a new beginning in their commitment to protect mountain lions. Let them take you on a journey to Mexico to the places where people and lions share the landscape. Cougar Fund partner, Sam Carrera, who you will meet when you click on the video above, is a wonderful ambassador and teacher. He will be providing regular updates about the lions he discovers through remote videography and sharing their stories here.