Big Cat Rescue’s In Situ Conservation Work
2016 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
Pallas Cats in Russia
Big Cat Rescue donated towards an ongoing in situ research project, The Pallas Cat Study and Conservation Program, that started in 2004 in order to collect data pertaining to the true conservation status of the species. The Pallas Cat is one of the least studied wild cats in the world despite having a large habitat ranging across Russia, Mongolia and North-Western China. The habitat of this species has been decreasing over the years, meaning species numbers have dramatically declined. Biology of the species and its adaptations to different landscapes have never been studied adequately, meaning data is lacking on the current spatial distribution, migratory patterns and habitat preference.
The project started initially with interview surveys and snow-tracking research in all the main regions of Russia where the species resides. Since 2009 they have also studied Pallas cats in Kazakhstan, with the north-east region proving to be the most important habitat for the cats, as this is where the majority of the data was obtained. Since 2013, the project has moved its focus to study factors influencing Pallas Cat distribution, clarification of actual and potential threats to the species, population density estimations, pilot studies of Pallas Cat Biology and public awareness. Techniques such as GPS tracking, GIS databases, on foot tracking and the involvement of locals has contributed to the progress thus far for the data collected. Read more about their work here: http://www.savemanul.org/eng/
Tanzania Lion Illumination Project
Human-animal conflict is an ever growing problem especially in ares where the habitats of humans and animals overlap. With human populations increasing, there is more pressure on wildlife to survive due to habitat loss, and livestock Bomas provide an easy meal for many predators. When predators kill the livestock, the locals retaliate by killing the predators and thus it means, in countries like Tanzania, Kenya and Nairobi, where human-animal conflict is prevalent, lion and leopard populations are dramatically declining.
Big Cat Rescue donated to the Tanzania Lion Illumination Project to aid in a solution for this ever growing problem. The Tanzania Lion Illumination Project is a small, non-profit organization that works out in Tanzania installing “Lion Lights” on to livestock Bomas in areas where they are needed, to help rural communities protect their livestock and reduce retaliatory killings. “Lion lights” are a simple and effective method that involved the installation of LED lights around the tops of livestock bomas. The flashing LED lights are solar powered and help to repel predators, by disorientating them and causing them to flee. To date the Tanzania Lion Illumination Project has installed lights on more than 70 Bomas and the result has shown a dramatic decrease in both livestock loss and retaliatory predator killings.
The Tanzania Lion Illumination Project not only funds the light systems but also trains local people and the native tribes in the installation and upkeep. By doing this they hope to be able to educate them and raise awareness about living in peace with the animals. Read more about their work here: http://www.tanzlight.org/home.html
The Corbett Foundation
Big Cat Rescue donated $5,000 to The Corbett Foundation, a charitable, non-profit and non-governmental organization solely committed to the conservation of wildlife. They work towards a harmonious coexistence between human beings and wildlife across some of the most important wildlife habitats in India, namely Corbett Tiger Reserve, Kanha and Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserves, Kaziranga Tiger Reserve and around the Greater Rann of Kutch.
Local Communities and wildlife share natural ecosystems and this often raises conflict, so the health and wellbeing of these communities are often directly linked to their willingness to participate in wildlife conservation efforts. The Corbett foundation has implemented its programs in over 400 villages in the last decade. One specific area the Corbett foundation is working on is the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve.
Open farm wells, dug by villagers, in the buffer zone of the Reserve, are proving to be a deathtrap for wild animals, with several cases having been reported of animals, including tigers and leopards, drowning by accidentally falling into the open wells. Currently around 2500 of these open farm wells exist, many in the core zone of the Tiger Reserve. The Corbett Foundation with the support of Exodus Travels Ltd UK, has initiated a project to install chain-link fencing around such open farm wells to prevent any further accidental drowning. More here: Big Cat Fences
In the first phase of the project, 200 fences have already been built around wells closest to the core of the reserve. The cost of one fence is 7500 Indian Rupees so approximately $111, meaning from the $5000 donated, between 40-45 fences can be built. You can read more about the other great work done by Corbett Foundation here: http://www.corbettfoundation.org/what-we-do.php#wildlife-conservation
The Urban Caracal Project
In February 2016, BCR donated funds to assist the Urban Caracal Project. The Cape Peninsula is a biodiversity hotspot that has lost almost all of its large mammals such as cape lions, leopards and brown hyenas. Caracals as a result may play a major role in maintaining the ecosystem as they are the largest remaining predator in the area.
The Urban Caracal Project, fronted by Dr Laurel Seyries and the Cape Leopard Trust, is a project that aims to establish baseline information about the caracal population in the Cape Peninsula: population size, health of individuals, and the distribution of caracals across the Peninsula. In addition they want to evaluate the effects of urbanization on the behavior, movement patterns, diet, and genetic health of caracals and assess threats to survival of caracals in the Peninsula and potentially beyond to other parts of South Africa. This study is an essential tool to understand how urbanization may be threatening wildlife in other parts of the world affected by similar factors. Read more about the Urban Caracal Project: http://www.urbancaracal.org/about/
See Caracals Living Free
The Black Footed Cat Working Group
In March 2016 BCR donated funds to assist the Black Footed Cat Working Group, with one of the longest running small cat projects that has been in process for over 23 years, conserving the Black Footed Cat population in South Africa. More than 60 cats have been caught and collared over 100 times and what is known today about the species has been found during this field study. The study collects data on the ecology of the species, like home range sizes, home range usage, social organisation, food habits but also mortality, longevity, dispersal and reproduction of the population.
The Black-footed Cat Working Group was formed to publish and share findings from the project and the group consists of 7 biologists and veterinarians that act as a central information source for the species. Read more about The Black Footed Cat Working Group here: http://www.black-footed-cat.wild-cat.org
Sand Cat in Morocco
Big Cat Rescue donated $1,000 towards the first ever study on the ecology and behavior of Sand cats in Morocco, launched in 2015 by Dr Alex Sliwa and Gregory Breton, scientists from Europe. The researchers aimed to study the cats over several years to collect data, throughout the lives of individuals but also across generations. In an attempt to understand the species better the research aims to look at particular ecological aspects such as activity times, size of home range, territory, social and reproductive behaviors, prey species and different hunting methods. The method of the study is for researchers to actively search for Sand Cats. Once located, the animal are caught and sedated, to be measured and given a health check, then fitted with a radio collar. These animals will then be followed with an receiver and antenna to determine their movements.
2015 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
On Father’s Day (Sunday June 21, 2015) Big Cat Rescue hosted our second annual walkabout to fund conservation efforts.
2014 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
In 2014 Big Cat Rescue donated $15,000.00 to conservation programs.
$900 to Walk for Lions in Kenya (from our March for Lions event)
$7,000 to Campaign Against Canned Hunting in S. Africa (from our March for Lions event)
$1,000 to Build a Boma via Nat Geo initiative in S. Africa (from our March for Lions event)
$1,100 to Animal Defenders International
$5,000 Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation
1. Saving Lions. March 15th’sMarch for Lions may have just seemed like one heck of a party, but thanks to everyone who came and fundraised for the event, we were able to net $10,000 and we wanted to spend it on ways to help lions outside our gates. The movers and shakers behind the Global March for Lions were Chris and Bev Mercer of CannedLion.org. Any time we need the truth on what is happening in Africa regarding lions, we always turn to Chris and Bev. They have been the leading force against lion hunting and pay to play schemes that pimp out lion cubs, only to sell them into canned hunts as easy targets. They would never ask for help, but this event made it possible for us to contribute $7,000. to their continued efforts to ban lion hunting. Chris said this is the equivalent of a small fortune in his world and that he will put it to good use in protecting lions.
2. We were impressed with Nat Geo’s Cause an Uproar campaign and donated $1,000. to their BuildABoma.org project. This will build two bomas to help protect lions from being killed for harming livestock.
3. We have long been impressed by Animal Defenders International because they are a small organization that has been winning huge victories for animals. What really brought them up on our radar was the amazing work they have done in the past few years to ban circus acts that use wild animals in 40 + countries. If you saw Blackfish and thought, “big cats need a movie like that,” then you have to see Lion Ark. We saw it and were so enamored that we sent $1,100. to help with their efforts to free all big cats from circuses.
4. Before the March for Lions even began we sent the early money we raised, in the amount of $900. to Walking for Lions to be a major sponsor for the cycling event from Kenya to Botswana to raise awareness of the plight of lions. So, thanks to your generosity we are raising awareness, supporting boots on the ground, giving locals a way to live with lions, rescuing lions from circuses and letting everyone know that when you pay to play with a cub, the cub is always the one who pays with his loss of life and liberty.
5. Big Cat Rescue was recruited to offer our expertise, guidance and funding in the expansion of facilities to house jaguars who are rescued from being killed and sent to the Belize Zoo. The zoo does not breed their cats, but cannot release the jaguars either because there are too many in the area and they get in trouble with people.
6. Created 22 Intranet sites, which are sort of a sanctuary-in-a-box site, for other sanctuaries to use. These came complete with every training video, training manual, chart and idea that we use to run Big Cat Rescue. We do this for free for sanctuaries around the world that do not breed, buy, sell, trade nor allow contact w/ wild animals.
2013 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
In 2013 Big Cat Rescue donated $3,883.91 towards four conservation programs in the FL and in other countries on behalf of our volunteers.
$1522.91 to Panthera to save corridors for wild cats to travel safely and outfitting rangers on behalf of our volunteers.
$1000.00 to the Florida Panther Refuge to help protect the Florida Panther.
$850.00 to the Snow Leopard Trust to cover the cost of camera traps and snow leopard monitoring.
$500.00 to the Tiger Trust to protect tigers in India by providing better legal assistance and training for game wardens.
1. Big Cat Rescue was recruited to offer our expertise and guidance in the development of a rescue center in Spain that will be broadening their focus from primates to now include big cats. AAP Primadomus is located on more than 400 acres in Villena and currently houses a variety of primates that have been rescued from private ownership, circuses, and laboratories. They are now expanding their focus to also rescue countless lions and tigers that are in need across their country.
In an effort to prepare for this project nearly a dozen experts were invited to a symposium that focused on sharing information regarding the proper care of big cats in captivity, emergency protocol development, and enclosure design. Big Cat Rescue President Jamie Veronica and volunteer veterinarian Justin Boorstein travelled to Spain and joined experts from Italy, South Africa, France, Austria, the Netherlands and all across the United Kingdom.
Over the course of three days the team worked tirelessly to provide as much information as possible to the members of not only AAP Primadomus, but its origin center Stitching AAP. Stitching AAP is a rescue center for apes, monkeys and small exotic animals in the Netherlands that was founded more than 35 years ago.
The symposium was a huge success. Big Cat Rescue will continue to work with AAP remotely throughout the development process. We are so pleased to provide assistance to organizations that are saving big cats across the globe!
See a digital rendition they did from the plans submitted:
2. Created 8 Intranet sites, which are sort of a sanctuary-in-a-box site, for other global sanctuaries to use. These came complete with every training video, training manual, chart and idea that we use to run Big Cat Rescue. We do this for free for sanctuaries that do not breed, buy, sell, trade nor allow contact w/ wild animals.
3. Presented at Tigers 4 Tigers which is a coalition of all colleges that have tiger mascots who are working to save the tiger. It was also the last place for the good friend and world famous and much beloved tiger expert Ron Tilson to make a presentation before his untimely death this year. http://youtu.be/o1ve94nYbP4
2012 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
After delivering a couple of free webinars for the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), and hosting their first in person 2 day Workshop in 2011, Patty Finch asked if the board of GFAS could use our facilities for their meeting. We were delighted to meet the members of the board that we had not met before and were proud to show off Big Cat Rescue to all of them. Howard Baskin presented on our fundraising streams and the history of Big Cat Rescue and I shared how we use google Apps and how we manage over 100 top notch volunteers.
2011 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
Big Cat Rescue funded a $5,000 GPS tracking collar program that will be monitored by researchers with the Snow Leopard Trust. Founded in 1981, the Snow Leopard Trust is the world’s leading authority on the study and protection of the endangered snow leopard. This collar will allow researchers to track a wild snow leopard in order to study its habits and territory needs.
A GPS tracking collar has been placed on one of the cubs of Khashaa, a female and mother snow leopard, within the study area. The cub, a male, is already pretty big at one and a half years old. We find this so exciting because it will help us begin to answer some of the unanswered questions about snow leopards, including information about dispersal patterns.
Big Cat Rescue has been working with WildTracks this year to provide images of our tigers’ paw prints for entry into their computer program which can determine who a cat is by their tracks when there are enough tracks submitted to use for comparison. Learn more and see photos of the print collection at http://bigcatrescue.org/2011/today-at-big-cat-rescue-sept-22
Big Cat Rescue offered to sponsor the first ever Florida Panther Festival if they agreed not to use any live cats at their exhibits. They did not take us up on the offer to sponsor the event, but did assure us that they would not exploit cats this way. Our camera traps have been set in various locations to monitor wildlife populations and poachers in the area.
After delivering a couple of free webinars for the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), Patty asked if we would host their first in person 2 day Workshop. Howard Baskin presented on our fundraising streams and the history of Big Cat Rescue, Jeff Kremer presented on donor recognition while giving the group of 20+ attendees a tour, Chris Poole spoke on social marketing and networking, Patty Ragan shared the value of hiring a coach, Kari Bagnall illustrated how to get the most out of a tabling event, Patty Finch taught grant writing, teaching your board how to be helpful and how to avoid “founder’s syndrome” and I shared how we use google Apps, how we manage over 100 top notch volunteers, why it is important to have a plan and stick to it.
Big Cat Rescue later hosted HSUS Sanctuary CEO’s for their annual retreat and gave them an inside look at how we operate. In both the GFAS and HSUS workshops we shared our Intranet site along with all of our training documents and all of the assets to create a “sanctuary in a box.” All of these tools are included on our website behind a $1.00 pay wall so that anyone who wishes to improve their facility has access to everything we do. Big Cat Rescue also helped the Humane Society Legislative Fund in their work to end puppy mills because the same laws would protect cats and kittens from use in kitten mills as well.
2010 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
Big Cat Rescue continued working with the International Tiger Coalition, which is a group of 40+ organizations committed to saving the tiger, based upon our unique ability to address the captive issues that imperil tigers in the wild. The goal is 10,000 tigers in the wild in 10 years. There are less than 3,000 in the wild currently and we are losing one per day due to poaching. We persuaded ITC to keep US tiger farming issue as part of their mission to eradicate because legalized trade puts even more pressure on wild populations.
What makes this initiative unlike all of the past programs is two fold. 40+ major conservation groups, including Big Cat Rescue, have joined forces with one common goal: Save the tiger in the wild. There have been other joint efforts, but none this large and never before has an entity as powerful as the World Bank been a committed partner in saving wild places for wild animals. Big Cat Rescue sponsored the ITC booth at CITES and sponsored the attendance of the ITC Moderator, Judy Mills at the Tiger Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. Leonardo DiCaprio attended as well and met with Prime Minister Putin. DiCaprio donated 1 million dollars to WWF’s fund for saving the tiger.
23 FL Panthers died in 2010 but 90 were born according to FWC. Big Cat Rescue is stepping up our support of local initiatives to save the Florida Panther.
2009 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
Big Cat Rescue continued working with the International Tiger Coalition, which is a group of 39 organizations committed to saving the tiger, based upon our unique ability to address the captive issues that imperil tigers in the wild. The goal is 10,000 tigers in the wild in 10 years. There are less than 3,000 in the wild currently and we are losing one per day due to poaching. We persuaded ITC to keep US tiger farming issue as part of their mission to eradicate because legalized trade puts even more pressure on wild populations.
We assisted in the rehabilitation of an orphaned baby bobcat in NC. Nina Fischesser, Director, Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute Lees-McRae College, Banner Elk, NC had contacted us for advice in rehabbing and releasing an orphaned baby bobcat. Giving cats a second chance at living free is the best part of our day!
We began working with Dr. Wynn’s CO colleague and a Florida Wildlife Commission epidemiologist on research involving FIV in bobcats and FL panthers. We will begin testing all road kill for FIV, as well as testing bobcats who are reported frequenting human habitation if we can safely trap and release them without too much stress to them.
2008 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
Big Cat Rescue was welcomed into the International Tiger Coalition, which is a group of 39 organizations committed to saving the tiger, based upon our unique ability to address the captive issues that imperil tigers in the wild. The goal is 10,000 tigers in the wild in 10 years. There are less than 3,000 in the wild currently and we are losing one per day due to poaching. We persuaded ITC to keep US tiger farming issue as part of their mission to eradicate because legalized trade puts even more pressure on wild populations.
What makes this initiative unlike all of the past programs is two fold. 39 major conservation groups, including Big Cat Rescue, have joined forces with one common goal: Save the tiger in the wild. There have been other joint efforts, but none this large and never before has an entity as powerful as the World Bank been a committed partner in saving wild places for wild animals.
Harrison Ford, one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, thanks to his latest Indiana Jones movie breaking records in theaters, is on the board of Conservation International and spoke at the June 9th launch. Also in attendance were our friend, the beautiful Bo Derek, who won the Wildlife Guardian Award at the Fur Ball last year, and Robert Duvall. HSUS brought Tiger Kids to the launch and this photo is from their participation as a ITC members. See these celebrities up close and purrsonal in the most important roles of their lives in this video we shot and find out more about how the World Bank and the International Tiger Coalition plan to save the tiger.
2007 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
The Jaguar Trust Trapping is the furthest thing from our mission, except when it comes to camera traps for tracking and aiding wildlife. Our own Big Cat Rescue president Jamie Veronica went to Guyana, South America with a fellow volunteer on a mission for the sanctuary. Jamie and Justin Boorstein were in Guyana for ten days setting new digital camera traps with video to track Jaguars, Ocelots and Pumas. Our partner, Foster Parrots, tells us that with the recent import ban of all birds into Europe, Guyana now finds herself in a position to change the long practiced wildlife export industry there. Many trappers are finding that there are no markets for their “products”! Many of these trappers now find themselves unemployed and the government may start to look at the potential revenues of eco-tourism to fill the gap. If we can make a concerted effort with our conservation project we hope to serve as an example and to garner the support of Guyana to create the world’s premier rainforest destination. Our plans include the promotion of our project here in the US and a marketing strategy to heighten the visibility of this important move in Guyana.
Visitors to Guyana will have a choice of tour itineraries ranging from an ambitious 3 and 4-day Kanuku Mountains hike that will bring them to the realm of the Harpy Eagle, to more leisurely tours that will encompass sightings of Red Bellied, Scarlet, Red and Green, Blue and Yellow Macaws, Giant Anteaters and a wide variety of primates. Horseback and canoe excursions will let tour groups experience the wilds of Guyana at an intimate level. Visitors can also travel to Kaeiteur Falls to witness one of the world’s tallest single-drop waterfalls of 741 feet. Construction on the first of two planned lodge complexes, located in Nappi Village, has been completed by the local tribes with funds from Foster Parrots and Big Cat Rescue. Contact SaveTheCats@bigcatrescue.org to spend your vacation dollars saving the wildcats in the rainforest.
Africa President Jamie Veronica and volunteer Barbara Stairs also toured Africa to see the issues first hand that have resulted in game parks being virtually the only lands left that house wild cats. She will work with relatives there to check out sources for offering handmade products in our gift shop that could help preserve wildlife there as we currently do in the Jaguar Trust. (Barbara Stairs funded this excursion)
Since 2005 Big Cat Rescue has provided both funds and volunteers to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya. Lewa relocates problematic wildlife to protected areas and provides education to children in the area who would not otherwise be able to read or write. In addition to the funds that Big Cat Rescue donates, we also provide a U.S. market for Kenya ‘s craftsmen and send clothing with our volunteers to distribute when they visit. Our volunteers take their skills and attitudes of compassion for all life into these barren regions and share a message of hope.
China, India, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia and Pakistan: Every year since 1997 Big Cat Rescue has donated to the countries that are home to the Himalayan mountain range where the elusive snow leopard is found. One whole corner of the gift shop explains how the sale of items made by the villagers helps save the snow leopard in the wild. In 2006, Dr. Tom McCarthy, the Conservation Director for the Snow Leopard Trust, came to Big Cat Rescue to explain just how crucial each sale was to protect of these exquisite cats.
The snow leopard lives in regions where the average person makes the equivalent of $1.00 per day. Most of the people who share the same highlands with the snow leopard are herders and to them, the loss of one sheep or goat can mean the difference in their survival. Most of the snow leopards that are killed are retribution killings; meaning that the cat has been blamed for killing one of the herd and the herdsman has killed the next snow leopard he saw. The herdsman can eat the cat and sell the hide for 25.00 which for them is a month’s wage. There are many other middle men along the way who are anxious to get their hands on a snow leopard pelt or penis for the Asian medicinal trade or for the black market. The pelt dramatically becomes more valuable as it goes down the line and can cost $5,000.00 or more to the final buyer.
The Snow Leopard Trust members in China, India, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia and Pakistan work closely with the local people to find out what they need. In some cases, they can create handicrafts like those we sell and make five times what they can make from herding.
The programs are structured with reducing reliance on Snow Leopard Trust funds for each consecutive year and to remain in the program the community must ensure that no snow leopards are killed. If anyone in the community kills a snow leopard, the entire community risks losing their right to participate in the program for a year and that is enough to keep everyone watching out for the snow leopard. Their claims of protection must verified by the game wardens and governmental agencies who actually have incentives to discover poaching because they are often paid a portion of the confiscation if they can catch a poacher.
Big Cat Rescue is the second largest retailer for Snow Leopard Enterprises.
We collected fecal samples from our captive snow leopards for the Snow Leopard Trust to use in training dogs to be able to tell one wild snow leopard from another just by sniffing the scat left behind. This will greatly enhance conservation efforts and is a cost effective method as well. The video we produced is being aired on our sites, and also being used as a marketing tool for the new program and the Snow Leopard Trust.
The U.S. State Department enlisted our help in saving the critically endangered Amur Leopard because of our ability to reach so many people who care about wild cats and their habitat.
2006 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
When our beloved tiger, Nini, died Brian Czarnik wanted her to live on and so we sponsored a tiger in the wild in Way Kambas Park. The money donated will help protect the tigers in this critical reserve. We worked with the Smithsonian Institution in a project to examine the population biology of small carnivores in Gabon, West Africa and Borneo. We hosted a party and raised more than $1000.00 to aid the campaign that would require the government to provide emergency plans for people who won’t leave their pets. This bill became law in 2006 and will protect America’s pets in times of disaster. We also sent proceeds from our Fur Ball to Lewa Conservancy in S. Africa and invested in creating eco-tourism in Guyana, South America to protect the wild cats in that area. At the request of the World Wildlife Fund in Poland we have provided photographs for them to use in creating a handbook for border guards to prevent the illegal trade in exotic cats and their pelts.
2005 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
We raised $1000.00 each for conservation programs to save the margay in Brazil, to help start an eco tourism lodge in Guyana and to assist Lewa in Africa.