On the road: 35M’s wild journey
When a young male kitten grows up, he must leave the relative safety of his mother’s protection to venture out into the world alone. If he hopes to survive and build his own territory, he must successfully avoid being killed by other male lions, including his own father, who would not recognize him as a son but instead see him as a foe to be destroyed.
After we captured 35M, a young male, back in April, we were excited, but a little apprehensive, to see where he might go. Data from young males are the most fun to monitor because these lions are unpredictable and can travel more than 1000 miles sometimes to find new territories! As 35M’s first GPS points started to come in, we realized that his movements were going to be very interesting indeed.
Two months after his capture, he continues to surprise us every week. When you look at his data, you can almost visualize 35M moving to the edges of the Santa Cruz Mountains, before being repelled by barriers like highways (101 and 280) and cities. His data really illustrates how difficult it must be to be a young dispersing lion living in a habitat that is bounded, for the most part, by an increasingly urbanized world.
As you might imagine, when mountain lions live near people, the dangers are further multiplied. 35M’s chances of establishing his own territory are not that great; on top of being attacked by an adult male, he might also be hit by a car, killed by gunshot, or chased by domestic dogs. But you have to admire the guy for trying so hard! Check back in the future for updates on his continuing journey and send him some good wishes – he’ll need it.