1,000 Cats Project

Help protect the habitats of jaguar, ocelot, mountain lion, and bobcat by submitting any sightings or signs of big cats to Sky Island Alliance.

We believe in a world where iconic wild cats thrive—a world where park staff and local communities are united in both countries and provide safe passage for wildlife across public lands and private ranches in Northern Mexico and Southern Arizona.


Link to iNaturalist Project

Project Contact: Emily Burns, Program Director (emily@skyislandalliance.org)

Watch the Workshop: Intro to Tracking Large Cat Species in the Sky Island Region

Jaguar tracks. Footprints left in sand by a jaguar (Panthera onca). Photographed in the Pantanal, Brazil.


Feline populations in the Sky Island region are at risk. Ongoing conflicts between humans and large cat species over shared resources (e.g., water, cattle, land) have put thousands of cats in danger of hunting, poaching, and poisoning. These conflicts have driven population numbers down—for example, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that jaguar, considered endangered, are only using 51% of their historic range in the Western Hemisphere. 

Habitats for large wild cats have also become fragmented. Strife with humans has effectively cut off these species from large stretches of private land; highways like I-10 and I-11 in the U.S. and Highway 2 in Mexico pose a threat to wildlife crossings between parks and mountain ranges; and the U.S.-Mexico border wall has isolated cats, especially jaguar and ocelot, from their core populations in Mexico.

The Project:

We believe in a world where iconic wild cats thrive—a world where park staff and local communities are united and provide safe passage for wildlife across public lands and private ranches in Northern Mexico and Southern Arizona 

To advocate for this future, Sky Island Alliance is launching the 1,000 Cats Project in 2021. This is a community-driven network that will allow us, our partners, and binational volunteers to collect wild cat data and take meaningful actions to protect the habitats of jaguar, ocelot, mountain lion, and bobcat. 

Will you help us better protect these cats in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands and make our conservation vision for these majestic animals a reality? Join the 1,000 Cats Project to create a united binational community of advocates for conservation that helps extend safe habitat for wide-ranging cats beyond national and state park borders. 

Iconic Sky Island Cats:

The Jaguar

Jaguar (c) Sky Island Alliance/El Aribabi


The jaguar is the largest cat in the Americas and has spots and a large head. This cat is unmistakable to other large cats in the region. Males have been sighted in Sonora, MX near the border.

Related Reading: Meet a Cross-Border Cat: Jaguar

The Bobcat

A bobcat. Credit: Raynor Vandeven

A distribution map showing the presence and absence of bobcats in submitted FotoFauna data. Credit: Sky Island Alliance


The bobcat is a medium sized cat with a short tail and tufted ears. Its lower body often has spots.

Related ReadingsFriday Creature Feature: Bobcat / Meet a Cross-Border Cat: Bobcat

Related Videos: Meet Bobcats in Tucson—A Study on Urban Bobcats in and around Tucson, AZ

The Ocelot

An ocelot. Credit: El Aribabi/Sky Island Alliance


The ocelot is a medium-sized cat with a long tail and round ears. Ocelot have spots that often look like chains.

Related Reading: Meet a Cross-Border Cat: Ocelot

The Mountain Lion

A borderland mountain carrying its next meal—a white-nosed coati west of the Atascosa Mountains. Photo credit: Sky Island Alliance.

A distribution map showing the presence and absence of mountain lions in submitted FotoFauna data. Credit: Sky Island Alliance


The mountain lion is a large tawny cat with a long tail and no spots.

Related Reading: Meet a Cross-Border Cat: Mountain Lion

How to Get Involved

Here are several ways you can get involved in protecting these cat species and their habitats in the Sky Island region. (What is the Sky Island region? Learn more here.) 

Help us understand where these species are present in the Sky Islands. 

  1. Document large cat observations with your handheld camera and submit them to: iNaturalist/NaturalistaSky Island Nature Watch/Vida de las Islas Serrana 
  1. Record continuous observations of large cats with your remote wildlife camera and submit photos of them with your monthly Sky Island FotoFauna checklist. 
  2. Look for cat tracks (prints, scat, or other signs) and submit them to the iNaturalist Sky Island Wildlife Tracking Program. 

Learn how to track large cats in this introductory online training. 

Help us increase awareness of the habitats these binational cats share across the U.S. and Mexico. 

  1. Follow the #1000Cats hashtag on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  2. Sign up for our monthly Sky Island FotoFauna newsletter to receive up-to-date information about our findings, plus tracking tips, wildlife facts, photo examples, and more. 
  3. Share photos of the tracks and cats you detect on your social media accounts and tag us.

Take simple actions at home to protect cats and their habitat. 

  1. Avoid using rodenticides that poison rodents (they are toxic/deadly for cats, too). 
  2. Pledge not to hunt big cats (including mountain lions) so that they have safe passage across public and private lands.
  3. Advocate for safe wildlife passages across roads, like Highway 2 in Mexico and I-10/I-11 in Arizona.
  4. Practice dry water harvesting and plant native flora to support a healthy habitat for native cats.
  5. Read Arizona Game & Fish’s guides on how to live peacefully with mountain lions and bobcats. 

Collaborating Partners

We are delighted to do this important work in partnership with these organizations: 

Saguaro National Park, Coronado National Memorial, Área de Protección de Flora y Fauna BavispeUniversidad de la Sierra, Protección de la Fauna Mexicana (Profauna), and Cuenca los Ojos. 

This project would also not be possible without generous funding from the Southwest Border Resource Protection Program.