Environmental philanthropists from China, India, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United States have together provided funding of $80 million (around R800 million) to change the course of wild cat protection through Panthera, the leading organisation dedicated to ensuring the future of wild cats through scientific leadership and conservation action. The announcement of this unique global alliance was made at a private ceremony in Abu Dhabi on 1 June.
The guaranteed 10-year commitment to cat conservation – an undertaking unprecedented in its scale and scope – will immediately fund the most effective solutions for conserving big cats and mitigating their primary threats: poaching for local and international trade; retaliatory and punitive killing from conflict with humans; unsustainable hunting of prey; and the loss and fragmentation of habitat. As the animals at the top of the food chain, these cats help maintain the delicate balance of the ecosystems in which they live and upon which humans depend, and serve as the flagship species for conserving large, wild landscapes.
“Panthera is the gold standard in big cat conservation. It has the proven capacity and expertise to implement this all-important global effort to save the most charismatic members of the animal kingdom,” said Her Excellency Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund.
“His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, is honoured to partner with Panthera, its board of directors, and other members for what we hope will be a very effective alliance over the next decade to help ensure that these iconic species thrive in their natural habitats.”
The founding members of the global alliance are: HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi; Mr Jho Low, CEO of Jynwel Capital and Director of Jynwel Charitable Foundation Limited, Hong Kong; Mr Hemendra Kothari, Chairman DSP Blackrock India and the Wildlife Conservation Trust; and Dr Thomas Kaplan and Mrs Daphne Recanati Kaplan, Panthera’s Founders.
“Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed’s support is a game changer, opening a path for us to create what has become an unprecedented alliance of philanthropists from Arabia, China, India and America, now united in a common cause. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed is building upon the legacy of the founder of the UAE, his father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who was a passionate advocate for wildlife conservation many decades before the cause became mainstream,” said Panthera Founder and Chairman of the Board, Dr Thomas Kaplan.
The multi-year pledges catalyse Panthera’s inclusive plan to help conserve all 38 species of wild cats, with a core focus on tigers, lions, jaguars, snow leopards, cheetahs, clouded leopards, cougars and leopards.
Solutions that will be funded as a result of this commitment include:
• Protecting and stabilising more than half of the world’s most important Asian tiger and African lion populations.
• Securing the largest carnivore corridor in the world for jaguars across 18 countries in Latin America.
• Creating community-based conservation projects in nearly all countries with snow leopard populations.
• Reducing killing and poaching in more than half of cheetah and leopard range countries.
• Designing and implementing a range-wide conservation strategy for cougars, inclusive of creating corridors and recovery landscapes across North America.
For more information on how to join Panthera in their efforts, visit www.panthera.org.
Photo: Steve Winter, Luke Hunter
This article appeared in the August 2014 issue of Animaltalk Magazine. For subscription details visit Coolmags.com