Wild Cat Book Review: Wild Cats of the World, by Luke Hunter 2015

Wild Cats of the World, written by Luke Hunter, published by Bloomsbury Natural History, copyright 2015

Wild Cats of the World, written by Luke Hunter, published by Bloomsbury Natural History, © 2015 – cover photograph by Kjetil Kolbjornsrud

Going along with everything wild cat related I wanted to offer up my personal reviews on books about wild cats, for two reasons. One, I own most books written on wild cats. Two, if you are interested in learning more about wild cats, it’s nice to know which books are worth buying. So without further ado, my first review: The Wild Cats of the World, by Luke Hunter, 2015.

This jumping serval is part of the opening spread in Luke Hunter's Wild Cats of the World Book

This jumping serval is part of the opening spread in Luke Hunter’s Wild Cats of the World Book – photograph © FLPA

Organization

This book serves as a guide to the entire wild cat family (Felidae), looking at each individual species known to science. At the time of publication that is 38, including the recently discovered Southern Tigrina. It first looks at the evolutionary history of this mammalian family and gives you insights into what species are most closely related and how eight different lineages (groups of closely related species) have evolved. The book then goes directly into the species descriptions which cover 87% of the book. It concludes with a chapter on the conservation of wild cats.
Book Review Star System five out of five

What Information is given about the Wild Cat Species

Chinese Mountain Cat species pages in Luke Hunter's Wild Cats of the World Book - drawings by Priscilla Barrett, photograph by Tashi Sangbo

Chinese Mountain Cat species pages in Luke Hunter’s Wild Cats of the World Book – drawings by Priscilla Barrett, photograph by Tashi Sangbo

Each of the 38 wild cat species has the following topics covered: taxonomy and phylogeny, description, distribution and habitat, feeding ecology, social and spacial behavior, reproduction and demography, and status and threats. Each of those topics goes into great detail without being overbearing. For example, it states that leopards are known to feed upon over 200 species of prey without listing you all 200 species. Yes, there are books that list all the species — to be reviewed later. I would describe the text as data driven, but readable to non-scientists.
Book Review Star System five out of five

Visual Impact

Each species is introduced by a beautiful full body drawing, along with a range map, and skull drawing. After the introductory drawing are some of the most unique photographs I have seen published of wild cats (full disclosure: I took some of the pictures in this book — but I am definitely talking about the pictures in general!). A few things that really stood out to me. Most of the images are of wild cats in the wild, which is generally not the case for many books on wild cats. Additionally, there are many images which I have never seen published before. Finally, there are an incredible amount of behavioral pictures, also a rare feat!

Additionally, the drawings by Priscilla Barrett of behaviors that have not yet been captured on film are incredibly beautiful and insightful into the lives of these secretive animals. With a total of over 400 photographs and drawings, this book is simply beautiful to look at.
Book Review Star System five out of five

Who is this book for?

The amazing quality of this book is that it is equally appropriate for children learning about the different wild cat species for the first time as well as seasoned biologists who want to know the latest information on the cat species.

Would I recommend buying this book?

This book is a must have if you are at all interested in wild cats. You can get your copy here.

Can you say gorgeous? This lion picture is part of the opening spread in Luke Hunter's Wild Cats of the World Book

Can you say gorgeous? This lion picture is part of the opening spread in Luke Hunter’s Wild Cats of the World Book © FLPA

California Wildlife Photography Workshop Dates Released

california wildlife photography workshop

There are workshops covering everything from salamanders to sea otters!

In anticipation of next year, I finalized the dates for a bunch of California wildlife photography workshop classes, mainly around Santa Cruz and the San Francisco Bay Area. You can check out all the info here: https://www.pumapix.com/wildlife-photography-workshops-and-lessons/

Workshop dates are as follows:
February 27th, 2016 – Santa Cruz and Moss Landing, California – Sea Otter Photography Workshop
February 28th, 2016 – Santa Cruz, California – Salamanders of the central coast of California Photography Workshop
May 14th-15th, 2016 – Pinnacles National Park, California – California Condor Photography Workshop
May 21st, 2016 – Santa Cruz, California – Brown Pelican Photography Workshop
August 20th, 2016 – Point Reyes National Seashore, California – Tule Elk Photography Workshop
October, 22nd through November 5th, 2016 – New Zealand – Birds of New Zealand Photography Workshop

Cute Marmot Pictures!

Need a pick me up? No problem, here are some cute marmot pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Gray Marmot (Marmota baibacina) kit, Pikertyk, Tien Shan Mountains, eastern Kyrgyzstan

Hi there!

Gray Marmot (Marmota baibacina) kit, Pikertyk, Tien Shan Mountains, eastern Kyrgyzstan

What’s going on out there?

Gray Marmot (Marmota baibacina) kit, Pikertyk, Tien Shan Mountains, eastern Kyrgyzstan

Are we siblings? Your nose smells funny.

Gray Marmot (Marmota baibacina) kit, Pikertyk, Tien Shan Mountains, eastern Kyrgyzstan

These fleas are itchy.

All of these pictures are of Gray Marmot (Marmota baibacina) babies, also called kits. They were taken in Pikertyk, in the Tien Shan Mountains, eastern Kyrgyzstan. I’d also like to thank Khalil Karimov, without whom I would have not gotten these pictures. Thanks Khalil!

*If you are interested in purchasing any of the pictures displayed in this post, please check out my fine prints page for pricing.*

Photographing in the High Andes

I recently returned from the high Andes of Bolivia and Argentina as part of the Cat in Thin Air project, and let me tell you, it was amazing! First of all, one has to get used to the high altitude of course (I saw one fellow passenger experience extreme altitude sickness pretty quickly in Bolivia as she had difficulties breathing and a major headache). Once you get used to the idea that you will be out of breath just by tying your shoes, you can start to focus on all the awesome nature that surrounds you.

So what does the landscape look like at 13,000 feet or even 14,000, (or even at 15,000 feet)? Probably not what you expect when you think of those elevations in the US.

Altiplano at about 13,300 feet, Ciudad de Piedra, western Bolivia

Altiplano at about 13,300 feet, Ciudad de Piedra, Andes, western Bolivia

Altiplano at about 13,300 feet, Ciudad de Piedra, western Bolivia

Altiplano at about 13,300 feet, Ciudad de Piedra, Andes, western Bolivia

Altiplano at about 13,300 feet, Ciudad de Piedra, western Bolivia

Altiplano at about 13,300 feet, Ciudad de Piedra, Andes, western Bolivia

Beautiful for sure, but there are some places, like the Valley of the Moons in northwestern Argentina, that stand out above the crowd.

Sandstone rock formations, Valley of the Moons, Jujuy Province, northwestern Argentina

Sandstone rock formations, Valley of the Moons, Andes, Jujuy Province, northwestern Argentina

Once you start to calm down about how amazing all the landscapes around you are, you start to notice the critters that fill those places.

Vicuna (Vicugna vicugna) mother nursing cria, Andes, northwestern Argentina

Vicuna (Vicugna vicugna) mother nursing her cria, Andes, northwestern Argentina

Chilean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis) flock flying over miraged lagoon, Andes, northwestern Argentina

Chilean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis) flock flying over miraged lagoon, Andes, northwestern Argentina

Southern Viscacha (Lagidium viscacia), Ciudad de Piedra, Andes, western Bolivia

Southern Viscacha (Lagidium viscacia), Ciudad de Piedra, Andes, western Bolivia

Lesser Rhea (Rhea pennata), Andes, Jujuy Province, northwestern Argentina

Lesser Rhea (Rhea pennata), Andes, Jujuy Province, northwestern Argentina

Even seeing the domesticated Llamas can be awe-inspiring.

Llama (Lama glama) herd grazing at sunset, Andes, Jujuy Province, northwestern Argentina

Llama (Lama glama) herd grazing at sunset, Andes, Jujuy Province, northwestern Argentina

I was there of course for the cats, but to hear about those you will have to be a little bit more patient. One thing is for sure, I am already looking forward to returning to the high Andes!

*If you are interested in purchasing any of the pictures displayed in this post, please check out my fine prints page for pricing.*

Cat in Thin Air project launched!

CatinAirLogo

 

The Andean Mountain Cat has been in my heart for a very long time. It is a high altitude specialist and less than 2.500 remain. This is not another sad depressing environmental story however. The Andean Cat has a real chance at survival, but its up to us who care to make sure that happens. The Andean Cat Alliance has been working exclusively on this amazing species since 1999, and they have made real progress. Since however there are less than 10 high resolution pictures of this cat in existence, I want to do my part in helping the Andean Cat by getting more high resolution pictures which can then be used to introduce a ton more people to the cat.

And so, the Cat in Thin Air Project was born. The goals of the project are to first get more pictures of this very elusive cat, but then, and much more importantly help with established education programs as well as create additional avenues to show the cat to the world. Have an interest in wild cats, go check out the project page, want to help? Email me!