On September 30, 2014, the Santa Monica Mountains Fund (SMMF) hosted an evening campfire to meet Steve Winter, the award-winning National Geographic photographer who photographed mountain lion P-22 stalking the Hollywood sign.
The event raised funds to help the National Park Service mountain lion research team in the Santa Monica Mountains. Learn more about the Santa Monica Mountains Fund at www.samofund.org.
Steve Winter presented his work photographing big cats around the world. He has tracked snow leopards in Siberia, been trapped in quicksand in Myanmar on the trail of tigers, and been attacked by rhinos in India. Winter's dramatic photos of P-22, one of about 15 cougars living in the Santa Monica Mountain range that runs from Griffith Park to Point Mugu, were published to great acclaim in the December 2013 issue of National Geographic.
These lions inhabit the largest urban park in the world, with 17 million people living within an hour drive through urban areas and freeways that surround the mountains and fragment the space these animals need to survive.
The National Park Service has undertaken extensive research over the last ten years so biologists and policy makers can plan more effectively for the conditions that will maintain their numbers in optimum health. In 2013, the SMMF provided the park nearly $35,000 in direct assistance for mountain lion research, lab analyses, tracking collars and the satellite service needed to understand lion lives.
“Without the help from the Santa Monica Mountains Fund, the research needed to conserve these animals would have been severely compromised,” explained Seth Riley, NPS biologist, “The research has shown us that the constrained area in which they live is leading to inbreeding among generations. This is already having a long-term effect on the genetic health of the lions in the mountains. Further funding will allow us to upgrade the collars the lions are wearing so we can track their movements, capture unique photographic evidence like Steve Winter has done, and continue our research.”