Following in the tradition of the past, I would like to take this time to thank the people and organizations which made 2016 an amazing photographic year!
In the beginning of the year, I worked a lot with the Santa Cruz Puma Project, which in fact was a continuation of working with them at the end of 2015. Having the privilege to photograph this stellar group of people was truly one I won’t ever forget. You have and continue to do amazing work for the pumas of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Thank you so much!
I’d like to thank you Chris Wilmers for being open to me photographing the project activities. For making photography a priority of the project, and for sharing your time with me! This project will lead to extensive conservation actions being done for pumas in sub-urban environments. Thank you for continuing to push forward with the project!
Mountain Lion (Puma concolor) biologist, Chris Wilmers, using telemetry to determine if box trap has been triggered, Santa Cruz Puma Project, Santa Cruz, Monterey Bay, California
Thank you Paul Houghtaling for dealing with the extra logistics of having me being on the team, for your patience, and for your conversations. For being one kick ass puma biologist! I will always cherish the hunts, the aerial tracking, and the den visits I got to share with you.
Mountain Lion (Puma concolor) biologist, Paul Houghtaling, tracking mountain lions from airplane using telemtry, Santa Cruz Puma Project, Livermore, California
Justine Alyssa Smith, I owe you so many thank yous. You were the first one I had the pleasure of working with from the SCPP. Without you, I would have never worked on the project at all. Thank you for taking the time to show me kill sites, for being an amazing conservationist, and a kick-ass biologist! Thank you for being such an accommodating model. I can’t wait to see what your future holds!
Mountain Lion (Puma concolor) biologist, Justine Alyssa Smith, preparing anesthesia needle to sedate sub-adult male for collaring, Santa Cruz Puma Project, Santa Cruz, Monterey Bay, California
Thank you Max Allen for being such a hard core biologist. You put the biology first, and the amount of work you have accomplished is simply unbelievable. Thank you for sharing your research with me, I won’t ever forget it!
Mountain Lion (Puma concolor) biologist, Max Allen, holding six week old male cub, Santa Cruz Puma Project, Santa Cruz, Monterey Bay, California
Sean McCain, thank you so much for taking the initiative multiple times to invite me on project activities. For always being game to model a shot, and for your dedication to the project. No job was too dirty for you, and it is something I very much respect! Thank you also for the conversations with Justine, I very much appreciated the honesty.
Mountain Lion (Puma concolor) biologist, Sean McCain, setting up camera trap, Santa Cruz Puma Project, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Thank you Chris Fust for allowing me to poke my camera in your face so willingly! One of my favorite moments will always be you singlehandedly pulling out 67M out of the box trap!
Mountain Lion (Puma concolor) biologist, Chris Fust, using telemetry to track mother and cubs, Santa Cruz Puma Project, Santa Cruz, Monterey Bay, California
I am so glad I was able to work with you, even for just a little bit Anna Nisi! I am so excited to see what exact project you choose and what your research career will turn into. Your kindness and generosity were more than apparent, even in just the two days we were able to be in the field together.
Mountain Lion (Puma concolor) biologist, Anna Nisi, using telemetry to track female, Santa Cruz Puma Project, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Troy Collinsworth. What a man you are. Thank you for all the rides, for the great conversations, for being such an amazing houndsman, and for sharing your trade with me. Your dogs are incredibly animals, and no-doubt a large part of it is due to you!
Houndsman, Troy Collinsworth, Santa Cruz Puma Project, Uvas Canyon County Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
As did in 2015, last years spring took me back to the high Andes of Argentina, to continue the work on the Cat in Thin Air project, which highlights the Andean Mountain Cat. This project will continue for many more years, but I would like to thank the people who were directly helping me in the field this year, since it was no easy task.
Juan Reppucci, there aren’t enough good things I can say about you. Thank you for being such a dear friend. For always being willing to help, for amazing conversations, for just being a good person. I am truly lucky to know you and I am happy that we will get to continue working on this and other projects together! I am saddened that we are not living closer, but I very much cherish our online conversations!
Andean Cat (Leopardus jacobita) biologist, Juan Reppucci, testing camera trap, Abra Granada, Andes, northwestern Argentina
Cintia Tellaeche, you are just as amazing! Your kindness and your hard-coreness are remarkable. Your food dishes, especially your in-the-field pizzas, are beyond yummy, and your love for cats is beyond apparent!
Andean Cat (Leopardus jacobita) biologist, Cintia Tellaeche, testing camera trap, Abra Granada, Andes, northwestern Argentina
You know those people who are just beyond nice, go out of their way to help others, and volunteer their time to help a cause they believe in? That’s Deanna and Michael Clifford! So honored to have met you both. It was a true privilege to get to spend the time in the mountains with you. Thank you for your positive attitudes, caring so much about wildlife, staying in touch, and being simply awesome people.
Andean Cat (Leopardus jacobita) conservationists Michael and Deanna Clifford, Abra Granada, Andes, northwestern Argentina — great shirts by the way!
Not in any way less amazing is Amy Alexander. Though we only had a couple of days in the field together Amy, your great outlook on life was beyond apparent, and your dedication to wildlife palpable. Thank you for lending me the money for the cab, for getting the gang back together in California, and for being the great paced hiker that you are!
Andean Cat (Leopardus jacobita) conservationist Amy Alexander, Abra Granada, Andes, northwestern Argentina
Thank you Eliana Segura for your dedication to the Andean cats, for volunteering your time, for always having a smile on your face, and for putting up with my beyond-lack of spanish.
Andean Cat (Leopardus jacobita) conservationist, Eliana Segura, Abra Granada, Andes, northwestern Argentina
Jorge Luiz, thank you so much for helping me with the camera traps, for carrying too much gear, for the bracelet you made me, and for your friendship, it is not something I take lightly!
Andean Cat (Leopardus jacobita) conservationist, Jorge Luiz, Abra Granada, Andes, northwestern Argentina
Coming back to California, after the Andes, I was asked to photograph the research activities of the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory. The threatened snowy plover researchers Karine Tokatlian and Ben Pearl were nice enough to let me join as they banded three adorable plover chicks. Thank you Karine for being so welcoming, for your dedication to the plovers, for volunteering your time for the photography, and for being such a willing model. Ben, the same applies to you! Thank you two for the conversations, and the two great days on the salt ponds! (SFBBO is having a fund-raising drive for their snowy plover work, please consider donation so Karine and Ben can continue their conservation work!)
Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus) biologists, Karine Tokatlian and Ben Pearl, warming and banding chicks, Eden Landing Ecological Reserve, Union City, Bay Area, California
In the fall, I headed back to Kyrgyzstan to work along side Panthera’s powerhouse snow leopard team. It was a seven week long trip, and is one filled with conversations and experiences I will never ever forget. Living in close quarters for that amount of time either brings you together or breaks you apart. It was a true privilege to further strengthen relationships and make incredible new friendships.
First up is Shannon Kachel, who is the principal investigator of the snow leopard project in Kyrgyzstan. The adjectives to describe Shannon could be a page long, but some of the ones that stand out are determined, persistent, dedicated, intelligent, caring, understanding, hopeful, buff, fearless, academic, and a good friend. Thank you Shannon for allowing me to join the project one more time, for your patience, for your understanding, for really treasured conversations, for caring about snow leopards so deeply, and for doing things the right way. Miss you buddy! Also, you are too cool for a picture, so you get a video 🙂
Thank you Tanya Rosen for always being beyond supportive. For fighting for me to come back to Kyrgyzstan, for arranging so many of the logistics, and for your positive, well-rounded outlook on life!
Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) conservationist, Tanya Rosen, checking email in camp, Pikertyk, Tian Shan Mountains, eastern Kyrgyzstan
Zair Kubanychbekov, thank you for your tireless efforts in saving snow leopards, for being a logistics guru, for the airport rides, for getting us unstuck, for your super positive outlook and for sharing your culture with me.
Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) conservationist, Zair Kubanychbekov, trying to get car unstuck, Sarychat-Ertash Strict Nature Reserve, Tien Shan Mountains, eastern Kyrgyzstan
Thank you Ric for the hilarious conversations, for showing me some self defense moves without breaking my whole body, for fighting through the pain of a broken finger, for sharing the beyond delicious snacks, and for your friendship!
Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) conservationist, Ric Berlinski, Tian Shan Mountains, Kyrgyzstan
A big thank you to you as well John Ochsenreiter, for the interesting conversations, for your help setting up the camera traps, for bringing the salt and pepper shaker, for giving me your sleeping bag (it was much needed) and for killing it with M1.
Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) conservationist, John Ochsenreiter, Tian Shan Mountains, Kyrgyzstan
Thank you Rahim Kulenbek (doing the fun task of checking the temperature of m2 in the below picture) for your help with the camera traps, the honest conversations, for bringing in all that dried Yak poop for the fire, and for some delicious Tuna pasta!
Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) biologist, Shannon Kachel, reading PIT tag during collaring of male snow leopard, with veterinarian, Ric Berlinski, biologist, Rahim Kulenbek, and ranger, Urmat Solokov, Sarychat-Ertash Strict Nature Reserve, Tien Shan Mountains, eastern Kyrgyzstan
David, we got to spend a lot of time together and I enjoyed all of it. Thank you for putting up with my weirdness, for always being game, for not making fun of me when I was lagging behind, for your help with the camera traps, for not killing me on one of your chosen routes, and for the great conversations!
Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) conservationist, David Cooper, Tian Shan Mountains, Kyrgyzstan
Thank you Dan Dahlgren for proving that age is not a limiting factor, for helping set up camera traps, for sharing the stove, for bringing the popcorn which we enjoyed long past your departure, for staying in touch, and for caring so much about snow leopards!
Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) conservationist, Dan Dahlgren, Tian Shan Mountains, Kyrgyzstan
Aaron Wising, thank you for the ranging conversations, for supporting Shannon and the whole project, for being willing to take a break every time I needed one, and for carrying the camera trap up to the highest place we ever put one in Kyrgyzstan!!
Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) conservationist, Aaron Wirsing, Tian Shan Mountains, Kyrgyzstan
And finally, but in no way least important, thank you to all the rangers (including Mukhtar, Ulan, Urmat, Joky, Askat, Mishka, Tepa, Tesha, Kamchibek, and Omurbek) for your help with the horses, for cooking, for helping us safely cross the river, and for ensuring the protection of snow leopards in Sarychat-Ertash Strict Nature Reserve!!
Rangers Temirlan Baktygul, Urmat Solokov, Anne-lise Cabanat, Michel Gierst, Temirbek Jandrbaev listening to Ulan Abulgaziev playing the ukulele, Sarychat-Ertash Strict Nature Reserve, Tien Shan Mountains, eastern Kyrgyzstan
I hope I did not leave anyone out, please know that if I did, it’s my fault and I very much thank you as well (but do let me know and I’ll add you!). Thank you to all for making 2016 so amazing, filled with incredible experiences, memories, and friendships.
I have been working with Panthera for over four years now and what a privilege it has been. Panthera is the leading feline conservation group in the world. Their work is incredibly far reaching and impactful. Thank you for your tireless push to save wild cats. You are making a huge difference. To the general public, please donate to them, if you are in any way interested in cat conservation. 100% of your donation will go directly into the field!
The Santa Cruz Puma Project is a juggernaut in the puma research world. The multi-faceted work they are doing in regards to the mountain lions of the Santa Cruz Mountains is incredible. Thank you for allowing me to be the project’s photographer for quite a few months, for your dedication to the research, and for engaging the public!
The Andean Cat Alliance is a multinational and interdisciplinary network founded in 1999 by professionals from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru to develop coordinated actions for the conservation of the Andean cat and its habitat. They aspire to the conservation and long term maintenance of Andean cat populations and its habitat, in harmony with human populations. Having had the honor of getting to work with you, and now being a member of the alliance is something I deeply cherish. Thank you for your continued work on promoting the conservation of one of the world’s least known wild cats!
The San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory (SFBBO) is dedicated to the conservation of birds and their habitats through science and outreach. Founded in 1981, the Bird Observatory has produced over 30 years of scientific information on local bird populations, working with both government agencies and partner organizations. Thank you for allowing me into your world, for your dedication to the birds of the bay area, and for fighting for what you believe in!