California’s natural world is in peril due to the stresses of population growth, driving conflict between humans and wildlife. As we lose more and more of our open spaces and wildlife corridors, we are running out of time to alter the course of this accelerating decline.
For over 40 years, the people of the Golden State have protected the puma from the pressures of hunting. Residents have placed a high value on wildlife and even more so on wild spaces. More and more open spaces have been set aside as protected areas to ensure healthy ecosystems and hence improve the quality of life for residents. In the San Francisco bay area alone, the goal by 2025 is to have set aside over 2 million acres of parks, trails and natural areas to enhance the quality of life. Yet in the same 40 years, the human population of the bay area has doubled from 3.5 million to over 7 million people.
This population increase has created a huge pressure on the natural areas as people, desiring breathing room to live, move closer and closer to edge of the wilderness creating the inevitable conflict between the needs of the people and the needs of nature.
No better example of this conflict exists then that of the Puma.
A message from the film's director, Rob Whitehair:
"I have been so fortunate in my life to have had nine encounters with wild Mountain Lions. Five of those happened in the coastal mountain of California, the other four in Montana where I now make my home. All of them were very brief but each one seemed so profound to me. There is something in those eyes that moves me to the very core.
So I was thrilled when Zara McDonald contacted me to make films to support the mountain lion conservation efforts of Felidae Conservation Fund. On a personal level, to be able to explore that moment when a mountain lion looks at you is a dream come true. But this story is about so much more than that.
California is at a crossroads with mountain lion conservation. As the human population expands, habitat shrinks and corridors for wildlife to traverse are shut off, the mountain lion’s world is shrinking and shrinking fast. With that shrinking habitat and lack of corridors, conflict is on the rise and more and more mountain lions are killed each year at the hands of humans. Most of those deaths are entirely preventable.
It is my hope that this series of films will help to educate the public that through awareness, education and simple lifestyle changes, we can learn to live side by side with this solitary, elusive and magnificent animal and in doing so, preserve one of Earth’s most magnificent gifts.
As Zara put it in an interview, “educating yourself that this animal lives among us and that its survival is linked to our very own survival is perhaps the greatest gift you can give yourself."
Stay tuned for the launch of the music video.