By David Braun
Environmental philanthropists from China, India, the United Arab Emirates and the United States have together committed U.S. $80 million over ten years to help fund conservation of all 38 species of wild cats, the wildlife conservation charity Panthera announced in Abu Dhabi yesterday.
“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,” New York-based Panthera said in a news statement. “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.”
The funders are:
- H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi;
- Jho Low, CEO of Jynwel Capital and Director of Jynwel Charitable Foundation Limited, Hong Kong;
- Hemendra Kothari, Chairman DSP Blackrock India and the Wildlife Conservation Trust;
- Thomas Kaplan and Daphne Recanati Kaplan, Panthera’s Founders.
“We are humbled to partner with friends who share a common vision and long-term commitment to securing the future of these big cats and their landscapes for generations to come,” said Jho Low, CEO of Jynwel Capital and Director of Jynwel Charitable Foundation.
“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 Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund.
“Having led by example in tiger conservation in the Indian landscape, it is heartening for the Wildlife Conservation Trust to be part of a truly unique international coalition that shares both our passion and commitment to the big cats—along with the determination to save them,” said Hemendra Kothari, Founder and Chairman of the Wildlife Conservation Trust.
Turning Point for Cat Conservation “Today marks a turning point for global cat conservation,” said Panthera Founder and Chairman of the Board, Thomas Kaplan. 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.”
The Crown Prince’s commitment to the Panthera alliance will be managed through the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, established by the Crown Prince in 2009. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) and the Managing Director of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, will represent the Fund as part of Panthera’s Board of Directors, Panthera said.
“We are thrilled to welcome these impressive individuals to our team. With this new and broad support, Panthera’s vision of regional and institutional partnerships has only just begun,” said Panthera Chief Executive Officer Alan Rabinowitz. “Our alliance is open to all, and we’re calling on people from every corner of the world to join our coalition at a time when it is still possible to ensure the long-term future of these animals and their ecosystems for generations to come.”
Projects that will be funded as a result of this commitment include:
- Protecting and stabilizing 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; and
- Designing and implementing a range-wide conservation strategy for cougars, inclusive of creating corridors and recovery landscapes across North America.\