Funding Scientific Leadership

by Inga Yandell

80 million for wild cats

Environmental philanthropists from China, India, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United States have together provided funding of $80 Million to change the course of wild cat protection through Panthera, the leading organization 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, UAE, 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: 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 honored to partner with Panthera, its Board of Directors, and other members of 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:

• H.H. 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.

“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 Mr. Jho Low, CEO of Jynwel Capital and Director of Jynwel Charitable Foundation. “We are confident that this can be achieved through Panthera’s excellence in environmental programming and management.”

“The Wildlife Conservation Trust is truly delighted to join in Panthera’s Global Alliance, an unprecedented example of environmental collaboration,” said Hemendra Kothari, Founder and Chairman of the Wildlife Conservation Trust. “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.”

“Today marks a turning point for global cat conservation, and we at Panthera are deeply moved by His Highness’ leadership in this noble cause,” said Panthera Founder and Chairman of the Board, Dr. Thomas Kaplan. “His 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.”

His Highness’ personal commitment to the Panthera alliance will be managed through the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, established by the Crown Prince in 2009. H.E. 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.

“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.”

The multi-year pledges catalyze 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 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.

For more information on how to join Panthera in their efforts, visit www.panthera.org.

The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund is a significant philanthropic endowment established in 2009 to provide targeted grants to individual species conservation initiatives; recognize leaders in the field of species conservation; and elevate the importance of species in the broader conservation debate. The Fund’s reach in species conservation is global, and its species interest is non-discriminatory. To date the Fund supported nearly 1,100 projects in more than 140 countries. www.speciesconservation.org.

Jynwel Charitable Foundation Limited (Jynwel Foundation) was created as the philanthropic arm of Jynwel Capital Limited (Jynwel Capital), an investment and advisory firm. Jynwel Foundation is built on Jynwel Capital and the Low Family’s shared heritage and vision for investing in society. As such, Jynwel Foundation seeks to fund breakthrough programs that are working to solve the toughest problems in global health, education, and conservation. wwww.JynwelFoundation.org.

The Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT), a charitable trust registered in Mumbai, India, works towards the conservation of tigers, Asiatic lions, leopards, Asian elephants and other endangered species, in addition to protecting India’s threatened wildernesses. The organisation works closely with 90 national parks and sanctuaries spread across 17 states and in a short span of time has become one of the biggest proponents of conservation action outside of the government in India. www.wildlifeconservationtrust.org.

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Inga Yandell
Explorer and photo-journalist, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide educational resources and a platform for science exploration.
Inga Yandell

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