Tiger | Panthera

“There are probably no more than 3,900 tigers left in the wild. People are stalking them, people are hunting them, people are taking down the last remnants of their habitat. We can’t let this species go extinct.” – Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, CEO, Panthera

Origen: Tiger | Panthera


1604418_10152029876043763_1809861790_nRead Panthera’s latest press release on new strides that were made for the jaguar last week with the signing of a critical conservation agreement between the government of Belize, Panthera & the Environmental Research Institute (ERI) of the University of Belize @ http://bit.ly/Ns2yVs. As Panthera CEO & renowned jaguar scientist, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, explained, “The signing of this historic agreement epitomizes conservation action & partnerships coming full circle. Nearly 30 years ago, I studied the jaguars of Belize, & today we return to the birthplace of jaguar research & conservation to reignite & strengthen the commitment, strategy & resources required to ensure this species lives on, for the next 30 years, & beyond. This MOU now represents Panthera’s sixth jaguar conservation agreement with a Latin American government, & our team will continue to work, country by country, to build partnerships with all nations home to the jaguar, connecting & protecting the entire 18 nation mosaic that is the jaguar’s range.”

www.panthera.org/sites/default/themes/panthera/images/Panthera Press Release_Belize MOU_FINAL_2242014_SPANISH.pdf.

Video: Capturing the Elusive Jaguar

Posted in Panthera Blog

In January, the Smithsonian Magazine released a video “The Jaguar Highway” of Panthera’s Media Director and National Geographic photographer, Steve Winter talking about jaguars, where they live, how they kill their prey, how the Mayan’s viewed them. Learn how Steve captured photos of one of the most rarely viewed cats and what Panthera is doing through the Jaguar Corridor Initiative to protect ‘America’s Tiger’.

Learn more about the Jaguar Corridor Initiative

Watch the video on the Smithsonian Magazine website

Learn more about the Jaguar

First High-Res Photo of Elusive Bay Cat Taken in Borneo

An elusive bay cat was recently caught on camera in Borneo Credit: Sebastian Kennerknecht | Panthera
An elusive bay cat was recently caught on camera in Borneo
Credit: Sebastian Kennerknecht | Panthera

One of the world’s least-known and most endangered wild cats, the Bay Cat, was recently photographed for the first time in high resolution by wildlife photographer Sebastian Kennerknecht, while working on assignment with Panthera. As highlighted in a recent LiveScience article and photo gallery, this stunning photograph, shown here, was taken with a camera trap set in Tawau Hills Park, in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Except for poor quality, remote camera-trap images taken by researchers, the Bay Cat has never been photographed like this in the wild.

Sebastian worked with a team led by PhD student Andrew Hearn from Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, co-supervised by the head of WildCru David Macdonald and Panthera’s President, Dr. Luke Hunter. The team attempted to take high resolution photos of the Bay Cat on two separate trips, totaling three months. Sebastian explained, “To do so we employed five customized digital SLR camera traps that are triggered when an animal crosses an infrared beam. To increase our chances of getting a photograph, instead of placing the cameras in visually perfect spots, we instead set them up where Andrew had taken images of the Bay Cat before using his research trail cameras. During the first trip we were able to get pictures of a Marbled Cat, and Sunda Clouded Leopards, but the Bay Cat proved elusive. Only on the second trip did we get this single picture of a grey phased male Bay Cat.”

A virtually unknown species, the Bay Cat was photographed alive for the first time only in 1998, and only occurs on the island of Borneo (which comprises three countries, Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia). Around the size of a large domestic cat, the bay cat has two distinct color phases, rich, rusty-red and grey with red undertones. Until recently, the species has never been the focus of intensive scientific research.

PhD student Andrew Hearn and collaborator Joanna Ross took the first video of a wild Bay Cat in 2007, serving as the only footage that exists of the species in Borneo. Today, Hearn is working with the Sabah Wildlife Department to unravel the mysteries of the Bay Cat and the other little-known felids of Borneo.

Sebastian concluded, “As excited as I was to capture a photograph of the elusive Bay Cat, nothing would make me happier than to see the image contribute to the conservation of this species.”

For more information on Panthera’s grant programs supporting projects on little known cats like the Bay Cat, see Panthera’s Small Cat Action Fund.

Credits: Panthera.org

Project Leonardo

image001 image002 image003Saving Africa’s Lions

Although the lion is one of Africa’s most iconic animals, few people realize that illegal killing, relentless habitat loss and depletion of their natural prey has left this species teetering precariously on the brink of extinction.

image004The lion, Africa’s largest carnivore, is in jeopardy. Easily seen in a handful of game parks, it is almost unthinkable to imagine the lion as a species requiring urgent conservation attention. Yet lions are disappearing. Only a century ago, there were as many as 200,000 wild lions in Africa.  Today, the latest surveys estimate that there are fewer than 30,000. Lions are classified as globally “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In West and Central Africa, they are now considered “Regionally Endangered”.

Africa’s lions face a three-fold threat:

  • Persecution by herders and farmers. Lions and people are on a collision course as natural habitat is converted for hu­man use, and livestock replaces natural prey. This fuels intense conflict situations where lions are speared, shot or, worst of all, poisoned.
    • Kenya alone loses at least 100 of its 2,000 wild lions every year due to killing by people. At this rate, there will be no more wild lions in Kenya by 2030.
  • Dramatic loss and fragmentation of habitat due to an ever-expanding agricultural frontier. Lions have vanished from over 80% of their historical range.
    • Lions are now extinct in 26 countries that they formerly inhabited.
    • Only 7 countries – Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zimbabwe – are thought to each protect more than 1,000 lions.
  • A sharp decline in natural prey due to overhunting by humans. This establishes a vicious cycle in which lions are forced to prey on livestock, driving further conflict with humans in which the lion is always the loser.

Panthera’s Solution

Project Leonardo is Panthera’s solution to protecting and increasing the world’s remaining lion populations.  Despite the severity and extent of the threats to wild lions, hope remains. Humans and lions both evolved in Africa and have shared their homes for millennia. The key is fostering, or in some cases merely reviving, the solutions that local people need to live in close proximity to Africa’s great cat.

image005Africa’s parks protect vital core populations of lions that are essential for their conservation, but reserves and national parks, in isolation, no longer guarantee the long-term survival of the species. Many areas set aside to protect lions and other wildlife are now occupied by people. Even well-protected parks have human populations living on their boundaries, where the conflict with lions, and their decline, is the greatest.

This is why Panthera focuses on the most important areas for lions under the greatest threat – Lion Conflict Landscapes. We identify and survey Lion Conflict Landscapes across the range of the species, from Senegal to South Africa. We then introduce tools and techniques that mitigate conflict between lions and people, and prevent the reasons that people kill lions.

This is the first time a conservation plan has been envisioned for lions across their entire African range. Panthera’s vision entails keeping lions in areas where they are most rapidly declining, and building or shoring up corridors to guarantee safe passage between key lion populations.

Panthera’s Lion Footprint

image006Panthera’s task in Africa is enormous. We are committed to conserving lions at a scale that has not yet been attempted, and we are uniquely positioned to do so with our far-reaching network of on-the-ground experts and decades of expertise. Panthera works from both directions: bottom-up with communities, governments, park guards, and teachers, and top-down with policy-makers, heads of wildlife and environment agencies, presidents and prime ministers. We are teaming up with local partners and providing them with the training and the assistance they need to effect conservation in their own countries, a vital component of any long-term conservation strategy.

Project Leonardo is working in many countries and regions to protect the African lion, including Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo and West Africa.

Click here to learn about what we are doing in these areas.

Read Panthera’s Lion Brochure: Project Leonardo: Saving Africa’s Lions

Read Panthera’s Lion Report Card: The State of the Lion.

Click here to: Meet the Lion

Credits: Panthera.org

Walking with Lions: The Myth of Conservation

Posted by Luke Hunter

2009-09-29-Phindachargingmale_92909Barely a month goes by without news of someone getting into a tussle with a ‘tame’ big cat. A recent case in point showed a young lion in a South African resort roughing up a British journalist who thought it would make good copy to go into the animal’s cage for a close encounter. It’s easy to dismiss the stunt as journalistic nonsense (which it is) but dozens of operations across Africa sell similarly close encounters with lions to the average tourist. For a fee, just about anyone can play with cubs, take a stroll with young lions or pose for photos to show the folks back home.

Inevitably, the marketing behind these outfits is heavy on the C-word — ‘conservation.’ Visitors are told relentlessly that, by handing over their cash to cozy up to tame lions, they are helping to save the species in the wild. There’s little doubt that lions are in dire need — they have been eradicated from over 80% of their range in Africa alone — but don’t believe their advertising. Churning out cubs for photo opportunities is a great revenue earner but none of those cubs are set free. They are too tame. If they were ever to wander into a village or farm looking for a belly rub or a feed, the surprised locals would, not unreasonably, reach for their rifles or spears. Even assuming there is someplace sufficiently wild and people-free, captive-raised lions simply don’t have the skills and experience to survive. Many of the tame lions released by Joy and George Adamson (of ‘Born Free’ and Christian the Lion fame) starved to death, were killed by people and wild lions or, in some cases, killed people themselves and were shot.

The more sophisticated operations counter this by declaring that tame, tourist-friendly lions are not intended for release: rather, only later generations of captive-bred lions, not exposed to people, will be set free. Even setting aside the formidable obstacles in ‘training’ captive-bred lions to be wild, there simply isn’t the need. In South Africa, there are now more than 500 reintroduced lions in 37 reserves — the key difference being that all of them are wild born and bred. Starting back in 1992, South African biologists pioneered the process of translocating wild lions from marginal areas and reintroducing them into areas where people had wiped them out. It takes money and has risks, but considerably less of both than using captive lions. Wild lions captured in one place are already much better equipped to survive as wild lions in another place. But, of course, using wild lions to re-establish the species rules out charging gullible tourists for an up-close experience. Cue cub cuddling.

If all of this fails to convince you to think twice about paying for an ‘encounter,’ ask the handlers point blank how many of their lions have gone back to the wild? If they furnish you a figure, they are probably lying. As I write this, I do not know of one example. In fact, most of them never actually attempt releases. Which begs another question — what really happens to their lions? When cubs grow up, they cost a lot to feed and maintain, and they need to pay their way somehow. No problem. There is a thriving market for lions, mainly in South Africa, among ‘lion farmers.’ They buy surplus cats, much as livestock producers buy new stock on auction, and they breed them. For hunting. As adults, the cubs that cavort with tourists often end up in the gun-sights of trophy hunters. It’s quite legal provided you have the permits. If you don’t believe me, have a look at this report from the excellent South African program Carte Blanche.

The bottom line is, the ‘lion encounter’ industry is only that — an industry. I’m the first to applaud businesses finding ways for wildlife to generate a profit when it actually helps protect that wildlife. The same tourists who spend $200 for an afternoon of walking with tame lions could instead visit nearby national parks and game reserves where the entry price and lodge fees truly do help to conserve wildlife. For my money, stick with the real thing: no matter what the glossy brochures and slick websites claim, it won’t ever involve tame lions.

bios-150x190-lhunterDr. Luke Hunter is the Executive Director at Panthera, the leading global nonprofit organization devoted to saving the world’s wild cat species from the diminutive black-footed cat of southern Africa to the massive tiger of Asia. Hunter has conducted fieldwork on large cats in Africa since 1992. His current projects include assessing the effects of sport hunting and illegal persecution on leopards outside protected areas, developing a conservation strategy for lions across their African range, and the first intensive study of Persian leopards and the last surviving Asiatic cheetahs in Iran.

Read this Article on the Huffington Post

Listen to a BBC Radio interview with Dr. Hunter on the viability of reintroduction efforts for wild vs. captive lions to repopulate lion populations.

Credits: Pantera.org

Tigers Forever

MM7666_110611_96162Ensuring Tigers Live in the Wild Forever

As recently as one hundred years ago, more than 100,000 wild tigers (Panthera tigris) roamed the forests and grasslands of Asia. Today, less than 3,200 tigers remain, occupying just 7% of their historic range.

These remaining tiger populations are seriously under pressure due to three main threats:

  • Wild tigers are directly hunted both to meet the demands of the illegal wildlife trade market, and due to human-tiger conflict, where local people take retaliatory measures to protect themselves and their livestock.
  • Tiger habitat is either being destroyed due to conversion for agricultural purposes and human development, or fragmented, leaving only isolated ‘postage-stamp’ size areas that are not sufficient for the long term survival of wild tigers.
  • Tiger prey, like deer and wild pigs, have been overhunted by people either for subsistence or for sale on the black market. Lack of wild prey increases the chance of tigers feeding off of livestock, which in turn fuels human-tiger conflict.

While the future for wild tigers appears bleak and is wrought with challenges, hope still remains. First, despite considerable pressures on wildlife habitats there are still extensive tiger landscapes in Asia that, given adequate protection, can support significant tiger populations. Second, we know how to save tigers and understand what they need to survive, based on  more than forty years of dedicated field research throughout the tiger’s range. Finally, and most importantly, Panthera recognized that tiger conservation efforts needed to consistently focus on the elimination of the critical threats to the tiger’s long-term survival, and that traditional methods and programs had not employed long-term population monitoring techniques able to validate the effectiveness of interventions.

lg-tf-replacementOn the basis of these findings, Panthera teamed up with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to establish the Tigers Forever strategy. Tigers Forever (TF) is built on decades of tiger research and lessons learned from tiger conservation initiatives across Asia, beginning with the work of Panthera’s own Dr. George Schaller in Kanha, India during the 1960s and followed by the influential work of Panthera’s CEO, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, in Thailand during the late 1980s. More recently, Dr. Ullas Karanth and Dr. Dale Miquelle (both from WCS and members of Panthera’s Cat Advisory Council) have shown how tiger numbers can be increased at sites in India and the Russian Far East, respectively. Panthera’s TF program is based on the work of these conservation scientists and the knowledge they have amassed over many years of work in the field.

Officially launched in July 2006, Tigers Forever aims to increase tiger numbers by 50% in key sites throughout Asia over a ten year period. This strategy for tiger recovery is being tested in long term WCS field sites in India, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Malaysia and Indonesia where there is a high potential to increase numbers of tigers and prey. In each of these settings, resources are focused on the mitigation and elimination of human threats to tiger survival, as well as to monitoring of tiger and prey populations directly. Tigers Forever is mitigating direct killing of tigers and their prey by:

  • Enhancing law enforcement patrols through rigorous training to protect tigers, their prey and habitat in and around core areas,
  • Using informant networks to investigate and apprehend poachers and others conducting illegal activities, and
  • Training of government and other NGO staff to carry out the best scientific methods on the ground.

Tigers Forever is currently being carried out in five countries:

Read Panthera’s Tiger Report Card: The State of the Tiger.

Click here to: Meet the tiger

Credits: Panthera.org