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Four donors pledge $80 million for big cats

Four donors from around the world have pledged $80 million to cat conservation group, Panthera. The money will fund projects working to preserve tigers, lions, jaguars, cheetahs, leopards, snow leopards, and cougars over ten years.



“Today marks a turning point for global cat conservation,” said Panthera Founder and Chairman of the Board, Thomas Kaplan, who added that the support of Abu Dhubai’s Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, “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.”



In addition to support from Al Nahyan, the other funders include Panthera’s founders, Thomas Kaplan and Daphne Recanati Kaplan; Jho Low, the CEO of Jynwel Capital; and Hemendra Kothari, Chairman DSP Blackrock India and the Wildlife Conservation Trust.



All around the world big cats are vanishing. African lions (Panthera leo) have fallen from around 100,000 to somewhere between 15,000-35,000 individuals in just 50 years, while a recent survey found that West Africa’s lions—a distinct subspecies—are likely down to just 250 individuals and on the edge of extinction.




A lion in Kruger National Park in South Africa. Lion populations have plummeted in recent years and the West African lion is on the verge of extinction. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

A lion in Kruger National Park in South Africa. Lion populations have plummeted in recent years and the West African lion is on the verge of extinction. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.



Meanwhile, scientists believe that just 3,200 tigers (Panthera tigris) survive in the wild today, less than the number of tigers found in captivity in the U.S. Also, snow leopards are down to 3,500-7,000 individuals, and cheetahs to about 10,000 adults.



Most of the world’s big cats face similar threats: deforestation, habitat loss, prey decline, poaching for wildlife parts, trophy hunting, and human-wildlife conflict.



But big cats are also some of the biggest recipients of conservation funds. For example, a global Tiger Summit in 2010 raised $300 million for tigers. The summit was also notable for being the first high-level international meeting aimed at saving a single species.



Although founded in just 2006, Panthera has quickly become among the world’s leading conservation group working with wild cats.



IUCN Red Listing for the World’s Big Cats










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