“I am trying to find images that people haven’t seen before, which give them a reason to care not only about these animals but about the ecosystems in which they live – and then transfer it back to their own lives.”
P22 strolling down a path in Griffith Park, home to the world famous Hollywood sign. This cougar is studied and monitored by biologist from the National Park Service’s Santa Monica National Recreation Area. The cat’s ability to remain invisible in such a highly populated area speaks to the stealthy nature of the species. To reach the park, which has been P-22’s home for the last two years, he had to cross two of the busiest highways in the U.S., Highway 101 and the 405.
Steve Winter has been a photographer for National Geographic for over two decades, He specializes in wildlife, and particularly, big cats. He is a Nat Geo Explorer and he’s been named BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and BBC Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year. He was a two-time winner of Picture of the Year International’s Global Vision Award and won 1st prize in the nature story category from World Press Photo in 2008 and 2014. He lectures globally on photography and conservation issues for Nat Geo Live and others. He has appeared on CBS Nightly News, 60 Minutes, NPR, BBC, CNN, NG WILD and other media outlets. He has filmed numerous shows for NG Channel and NG Wild, including Earth Live, and films covering Tigers, Mission Critical – Saving the Leopard and a Mission Critical film on Jaguars which premiered Big Cat Week in December 2017.
Winter’s photos, like the Hollywood Cougar, have become some of the most iconic images of our time. Along the way, he has been stalked by jaguars in Brazil, charged by a grizzly in Siberia, and trapped in quicksand. He’s flown over erupting volcanoes and visited isolated villages where residents had never before seen a blond foreigner—or a camera. His most recent feature, The Shrinking Kingdom of the Jaguar, appeared in the December 2017 issue. “If we can protect the wide-ranging, large, iconic species like big cats that require huge tracts of land to survive—then we also help save ourselves,” he says.
In Bandhavgarh National Park a wary three month-old cub briefly investigates our intrusion before ducking behind his mother. This tigress gave birth in the same remote cave where she was born. Mothers keep young cubs well-hidden, moving them if she senses danger.
Steve feels that he has a great responsibility not only to show and excite readers about big cats and the natural world but about its fascinating people and cultures as well. He wants to give people a reason to care. Above all, he wants to give the readers of National Geographic what he always wanted—a front row seat next to the photographer, writer and filmmakers, part of the team along for the adventure.
In November 2013, National Geographic published Steve’s photography book Tigers Forever: Saving the World’s Most Endangered Cat, with text written by NG Explorer and environmental journalist Sharon Guynup, who is also a Woodrow Wilson Global Fellow.