Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Panthera Newsletter for March 2010


Issue 10 March 2010


In This Issue

Colombia Supports Jaguar Corridor
Leopard Research in the Spotlight...Again!
Unraveling Mysteries in Mongolia
Expanding Biodiversity in Sumatra
Partners Unite for Jaguars in Belize
Breaking Ground in Science
Huffington Post's Cat Tales


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Panthera is an international nonprofit whose sole mission
is the conservation of the world's 36 species of wild cats. Bringing
together the knowledge and expertise of the world's top cat biologists,
and working in partnership with local and international NGOs,
scientific institutions, universities and government agencies, Panthera
develops and implements range-wide species conservation strategies for
the world's most imperiled wild cats.

Colombian Leaders Sign Historic Agreement in Support for Panthera's Jaguar Corridor
Panthera continues to make critical strides carving out a sustainable future for
jaguars across their range. Having received ministerial level support for our
Jaguar Corridor Initiative in every Central American country, Panthera has turned
its attention to Colombia and achieved another resounding success for the species
and its habitat. In February, Panthera President and CEO, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz,
traveled again to Bogotá (see past issue [])
to meet with top-level Colombian government officials, including the Colombian Vice
President, the Minister of Environment, and the Director General of National Parks.
The meeting resulted in a signed memorandum of understanding initiating an historic
agreement supporting activities that will ensure the conservation of the jaguar
and its habitat throughout Colombia.
Panthera is currently on the ground in Colombia identifying key populations of jaguars
and assessing their connectivity. Colombia is the critical link to where Central
American and South American jaguar populations meet, and therefore is essential
in connecting jaguars all the way from northern Mexico to Argentina. Having high-level
government officials publically declare their support for Panthera's Jaguar Corridor
Initiative allows us to move forward with important policy directives that delineate
forest reserves and help define conservation objectives in key national parks.
Meanwhile, Panthera's Colombian biologist, Dr. Esteban Payan, continues to work
on the ground to secure local community involvement and address problems related
to human-jaguar conflict. Panthera's multi-tiered approach to jaguar conservation
- obtaining support from the ground up, and top down - is paramount to success
in conserving one of the Earth's most iconic and beautiful cats.
To learn more about this historic event, please click here [].

Panthera's Leopard Research in the Spotlight...Again!
We have continued to report on Panthera's leopard project in South Africa because
it is repeatedly spotlighted by others as a shinning conservation success! Panthera's
research on leopards (which is the longest and most comprehensive leopard study
ever conducted) helped shape hunting policies to better conserve leopards and address
'problem cats'. Just last week, South Africa's major newspaper, The Sunday Independent,
summed it up nicely: "This was the first time that an African statutory authority
had taken the results of scientific research and redesigned its protocols for hunting
and the control of problem leopards". Data continue to show positive results for
leopards and Panthera continues to monitor progress.
To read the article in The Sunday Independent, please click here [].
To learn more, about Panthera's Guy Balme, please see his articles on leopards in
African Geographic: Return of the Leopard []
and Rumble in the Jungle [].

Unraveling Mysteries in Mongolia - One Snow Leopard at a Time...
Panthera's Snow Leopard Program has embarked upon our second trapping season with
our partner, the Snow Leopard Trust (SLT), at our South Gobi Mongolia Research site.
Just last week, the team captured their eighth snow leopard! We are striving to
learn all we can about these endangered and almost mythically secretive cats.
High-tech digital camera-traps are being used to identify individuals from their
unique spot patterns, providing an indication of how many snow leopards remain
in the wild. But saving these 'ghosts of the mountains' requires a much greater
understanding than can be gained through photos alone. The researchers also humanely
and safely capture the cats and fit them with a collar containing a GPS device that
collects critical data on their movements and behavior, which is then relayed back
to the researchers via satellite telephone several times a day.
Prior to the initiation of this study in the summer of 2008, only 14 snow leopards
had ever been monitored using radio-collars, and never have more than six been successfully
collared at any one site. Our study in Mongolia is the first to ever employ GPS-satellite
technology, and the data collected through the collars are used to inform conservation
policy decisions that will help to protect this incredible species.
For more information on this story, please click here [].

Expanding Biodiversity for Tiger Conservation in Sumatra
As Panthera's Tigers Forever (TF) program expands to a new
core area in Sumatra, we expect to see a resurgence of wildlife in the once
environmentally troubled region. On a recent TF field survey, discussions with
local people revealed that this vast tract of lowland tropical forest was once
heavily logged under President Suharto's term in the 1980's. Since then, the forest
slowly began to regenerate, but sadly was ravaged again in the late 1990's by
prolific fires. The forest destruction left the wildlife in the area particularly
vulnerable to local poachers. Now, due to the efforts of Panthera and the TF
program, stringent protection has been implemented for this critical tiger
habitat, and all the animals living there. Over the next year, under the Tigers
Forever protocol, we will see how quickly this forest can regain its former
splendor, and offer refuge to a growing number of Sumatran tigers and a host of
other species.
For more information on Panthera's Tigers Forever program,
please visit [].


Partners Unite for Jaguars in Belize
Last December,
Panthera and other NGOs took part in Belize's Second Annual National Jaguar
Work Group Meeting, which brought together representatives from the Belize
Audubon Society, Belize Livestock Producers' Society, the Program for Belize,
the Protected Areas Conservation Trust, and Birds without Borders. Each organization
has the potential to play a
pivotal role in the jaguar's future, and we were pleased with the collaborative
efforts the meeting generated. One milestone
was the launch of a structure for Belize's National Jaguar Action Plan. The Plan,
which will be implemented by the
end of 2010, would ensure collaboration of all stakeholders in a wide-ranging
effort to build critical support for the species. Panthera presented on our work
to identify and implement a functional jaguar corridor in
Central Belize, and collaborated with the Belize Livestock Producers' Society to
begin hosting national training workshops for livestock owners to mitigate jaguar-livestock
conflict. Belize harbors critical jaguar
habitat, and Panthera will continue to help secure these areas to ensure a safe
home for jaguars.
To learn more
about Panthera's jaguar conservation programs, please click here [].

Breaking Ground in Science
Panthera continues to set the standard for groundbreaking, innovative, and effective
approaches to wild cat conservation. Practical and effective conservation techniques
for large, wide-ranging carnivores such as jaguars are essential as these types
of species encounter the most frequent and significant threats. However, few studies
have analyzed corridor usage and connectivity for the species, which ultimately
impacts their long-term future. In January, Panthera President and CEO, Alan Rabinowitz,
along with our Corridor Initiatives Coordinator, Kathy Zeller, published an article
in Biological Conservation, entitled: A range-wide model of landscape connectivity
and conservation for the jaguar, Panthera onca. This model serves as the first
attempt to create and implement a holistic approach for range-wide conservation
by identifying, assessing, and implementing potential corridors between core jaguar
To read the article, please click here [].

Huffington Post's Cat Tales: Life Around Us
Last October, Panthera gathered stories from our scientists, researchers, and partners
to document their favorite encounters with big cats in the wild. This month, read
our Director of Snow Leopard Programs Tom McCarthy's account of a sighting that
still moves him, twelve years later. Please click here [].

To learn more about Panthera and how you can help save the world's wild cats, visit: []
To see more 'Panthera in the News', please visit: []

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