Big Cat Rescue’s In Situ Conservation Work
2019 Saving Wild Places for Wild Cats
Click the pins on the map, or the species on the left, to get all of the details!
Research and Articles by Lauren Buckingham
Santa Monica Mountains Fund
Big Cat Rescue donated $5,000 to continue support of the Santa Monica Mountains Fund, in 2019. Unfortunately in 2018, the Santa Monica Mountains Fund lost the majority of their field equipment due to wildfires that swept through the Santa Monica Mountains. With our donation they were able to reach their fundraising goal, to replace all that was lost, in less than a month!
The Santa Monica Mountains Fund is dedicated to advancing research and conservation of the mountain lions and Bobcats that call the park home. Unfortunately, their future in the park is uncertain and the Fund is actively working with park biologists to learn what is needed protect these magnificent animals. Clear evidence shows that when large predators are lost, the balance of life in an ecosystem is severely disrupted and the diversity of other plants and animals begins an accelerated decline.Human impact is the largest threat to native species, and it comes in many forms including habitat loss, conflict with wildlife, and introduction of invasive species. The Santa Monica Fund protects native species by investing in scientific research that is used to determine management and policy decisions. They also work to raise awareness of species protection issues to help visitors and park neighbors understand how their decisions might affect the amazing plants and animals found within the mountains.
You can read more about the great work they do here: https://samofund.org/
Bay Area Bobcats
In Southern California, Felidae Conservation Fund is working in the Bay Area and Central Coast, trying to identify remaining bobcat habitat and wildlife linkages between habitats, in an effort to conserve wild Bobcat populations and prevent local extinctions. Identifying linkages that connect habitats is critical as they provide a means for species to access necessary resources, provide access for juvenile dispersal and facilitate movement between habitat patches for wildlife to find viable mates. Since carnivores generally have relatively large home ranges, fragmented habitats often become smaller than the home ranges. As a result, home ranges of large carnivores often extend into the boundaries of urbanized areas which leads to human-wildlife conflicts.
The Bay Area Bobcat Study aims to look at how human development and habitat fragmentation affects bobcat populations, population status, mortality factors, and health, all of which have not been evaluated in depth for the region. This study will track bobcat movement through fragmented landscapes and identify barriers that hinder juvenile dispersal within bobcat metapopulations. Combining telemetry and conducting field camera research will reveal where bobcat juveniles are dispersing, and how bobcats are moving on the landscape. By gaining this information felidae will be able to make plans for conservation including informed recommendations to land managers and roadway engineers, concerning wildlife corridors and crossing structures.
You can read more about the project here: http://www.felidaefund.org/?q=bay-area-bobcats-page
Bay Area Puma Project (BAPP)
The Bay Area Puma Project (BAPP) is the first large scale research, education and conservation program for pumas in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. BAPP’s primary goal is to increase knowledge, understanding and awareness about Bay Area puma populations, in order to promote better co-existence and less conflict between humans and pumas in the region, and ultimately to help foster a more harmonious relationship between humans and the natural world.
As the top predator in the natural spaces around the Bay Area, the puma plays a critical role in maintaining the health and balance of our local ecosystems. However human development is rapidly encroaching on puma habitat, creating mounting problems that include habitat fragmentation and corridor loss, increasing anxiety in local communities due to puma encounters, and more human-puma conflicts involving roads, livestock, and depredation.
You can read more about the project here: http://www.felidaefund.org/?q=bay-area-puma-project-page
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Wildlife Crime is an ever growing problem which threatens national and international security, economic development and the survival of key species.
Wildlife rangers work in some of the planet’s most extreme and dangerous environments and anti-poaching rangers do one of the toughest jobs in the world. These men and women work tirelessly day and night, in often hostile conditions, to protect wildlife on the conservation frontline. Without on the ground wildlife rangers, there would be no hope of turning the tide in the fight to protect some of the world’s most vulnerable and endangered species like elephants, rhinos and tigers. Many wildlife rangers have died in the line of duty, killed by poachers or distressed animals, as they fight to protect vulnerable wildlife.
The duties of wildlife rangers can include:
• Carrying out anti-poaching patrols
• Locating and removing wildlife snares
• Collecting vital data on endangered species and habitats
• Responding to emergency reports of wildlife crime, by poachers who are often heavily armed
• Gathering important intelligence on criminal activity to help combat wildlife crime
The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) helps support rangers across Africa and Asia – from the mountains of Mongolia, to the forests of Russia and the wild plains of Africa. DSWF directly funds projects that support rangers in their daily roles, helping to ensure they get the vital field equipment and level of training they need.
You can read more about their work here: https://davidshepherd.org/our-work/wildlife-rangers
Combatting Illegal Wildlife Trade in Democratic Republic Congo
Conserv Congo is a non profit organization, based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose mission is to preserve and protect the Congolese biodiversity whilst sharing its existence with the rest of the world. Through their work they aim to promote scientific tourism/research, Fight poaching in all its forms and shapes through any possible and admissible waysl Protect the Congolese rainforests and their biodiversity, Contribute towards local sustainable development, Fight poverty as a tool to conserve nature, Provide general support and assistance to park rangers in the DRC and Create environmental awareness in communities through education and campaigns. Big Cat Rescue donated to assist in their work to combat the Illegal Poaching and Trade of Leopard skins and body parts.
The African leopard (Panthera pardus) is one of the five extant species in the genus Panthera, a member of the Felidae. Leopards are at risk of extinction across their African and Asian range, having suffered a population decline in sub-Saharan Africa of more than 30 percent in the past 25 years, in part due to unsustainable trophy hunting but also general poaching.
Leopards are hunted illegally, and their body parts are smuggled in the wildlife trade for medicinal practices and decoration.As a result of their association with kings in Africa, the leopard’s pelt is often seen today as a symbol of aristocratic rank, chiefs using it as a part of their traditional regalia. Its meat is also highly favored by the privileged elite class in African Society, which believes it is a symbol of status, power and privilege. Some people go a step further and even associate the consumption of its meat to having health benefits even though very little proof has been produced regarding this speculation.
In Asia, the skin besides other uses, it is also used in wineries and whisky distilleries, where certain body parts are essential ingredients to making highly sought after and costly alcoholic beverages The Panthera pardus is listed on CITES Appendix I, which prohibits international trade for commercial purposes, but this international agreement does not prohibit trade in hunting trophies and also does not guarantee a complete protection against money seeking traffickers.
Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Conga being a wildlife trafficking haven in the region, remains flooded by leopards skins from other provinces in the country and also from neighboring countries. At any given moment in Kinshasa there could be not less than 20 leopards skins for sale under our investigations. The influx of leopard skins, bones and meat are a results of the dire demand from the fashion industry, the traditional beliefs both in Africa and Asia. Its skin is used for luxury home décor, fashion accessories, as rugs, seat covers and taxidermy specimens. Bones are used in traditional Chinese medicine products, including well-known Chinese brands that have been seized and tested in Australia and other countries, while teeth are sold as increasingly expensive jewelry items. A single piece of an adult leopard skin can scoop up to a 1000 US dollars on the local market in Kinshasa. The skins are usually sent to Asia , Europe and the US as the final destinations where they can even scoop higher margins, depending on the quality and the industry it serves.
You can read more about their work here: https://conservcongo.wordpress.com/contact/about/
Ewaso Lions – Warrior Watch
In 2010, Ewaso Lions launched Warrior Watch, which protects lions, by engaging Samburu Warriors, a group traditionally neglected in conservation decision-making. Warrior Watch makes the Samburu Warriors ambassadors for the lions, while raising awareness about conservation, and advocating peaceful coexistence with lions and wildlife. The program builds on the Warriors traditional protection role by increasing their ability to mitigate human-carnivore conflict.
Ewaso Lions works with local community leaders to select Warriors. They train Warriors on wildlife ecology, conservation, human–wildlife conflict transformation, security issues, and more. Over time, the Warriors are trained to collect data and use GPS, allowing Ewaso Lions to map wildlife presence and movements. Following lion attacks on livestock, Warriors encourage herders not to take retaliatory action and help recover lost livestock. Warriors investigate problem animals and consider different solutions for reducing future livestock attacks. Each week, the Warriors meet as a group with Ewaso Lions staff to report on wildlife sightings, incidents of human-wildlife conflict, community awareness meetings, and livestock issues. In turn, Warriors receive educational lessons in English and Kiswahili and arithmetic, as well as a small monthly food stipend and meals during the weekly meetings.
Their vision is to create a network of warriors working across community conservancies in northern Kenya for conservation. They evaluate the program to improve Warrior Watch going forward and to make sure it is the best it can be. Through Warrior Watch, they are hopeful that wildlife will have a secure future among the local people in this part of Kenya.
An evaluation of Warrior Watch found that the program had significantly improved attitudes and tolerance towards large carnivores, contributed to the social and political empowerment of warrior demographic and garnered widespread community support.
You can read more about their work here: http://ewasolions.org/conservation/warrior-watch/
Greater Limpopo Carnivore Programme
The Greater Limpopo Carnivore Programme was founded in 2011, and is a conservation research programme dedicated to improving the conservation prospects for Lions, across the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area, in Mozambique. The Area encopasses 38,000km², consisting of three National Parks; Limpopo, Banhine and Zinave, four private wildlife reserves, and wildlife corridors.
The Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area is listed by IUCN as one of Africa’s most important conservation areas and is one of only 10 remaining ‘lion strongholds’ on the continent.
Wild Lions ranging across Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area are under threat and are persisting below their potential carrying capacity, and within a small portion of their potential natural range. The landscape boasts incredible species biodiversity, including lions, leopard, cheetah, hyena, wild dog, many endemic bird species and more. Preserving these ecosystems and improving the connectivity for species dispersal, between Mozambique National Parks and those of Zimbabwe and South Africa, is crucial.
Through scientifically guided conservation activities, the programme aims to recover and restore the long-term viability of the Greater Limpopo Lion Conservation Unit meta-population. By ensuring the persistence of lions and their prey, ecosystem health and functioning can be improved, for the betterment of other wildlife species, and thus safeguard the incredibly biodiversity of this landscape.
The GLCP is working in collaboration with wildlife authorities, dedicated private stakeholders and international NGO’s to ensure the conservation needs of the GLTFCA are addressed holistically and effectively.
Read more about their work here: https://www.greaterlimpopocarnivores.org/
Conserving Bhutan’s Mountain Tigers
The tiger is an apex predator and an umbrella species: ensuring their survival allows many species they need and live with to flourish in its large shared habitat. Bhutan is unique, in that its tiger habitat is contiguous across the whole country and extends from lowland subtropical jungles all the way to subalpine forests. The highest altitude for tiger in the world was recorded in Wangchuck Centennial National Park at 4,400 masl (meters above sea level). Bhutan is also the only place on the planet, where snow leopards and tigers are found in the same landscape.
Today, fewer than 3,200 tigers exist in the wild, spread across 13 countries in Asia and the Russian Far East. However, killing for profit or in retaliation, destruction of habitat for industries or subsistence, and a thriving illicit global trade have drastically reduced tiger populations across its range.
A population baseline for Bhutan’s mountain tigers is an important metric to help measure conservation success. It also allows conservationists to understand the spatial layout of important tiger habitat in order to better guide their protection. In addition, understanding tiger biology is critical to implementing effective conservation interventions. This project is a long-term initiative to build a sound knowledge base to guide tiger conservation. Conservation policies and management using sound science is the only way we can ensure that resources are focused on the right interventions in the right areas. In other words, it enhances higher return on conservation investment.
Read more about their work here: https://bhutanfound.org/projects/conserving-bhutans-mountain-tigers/
Phoenix Fund – Amur Leopard Conservation
The Phoenix Fund was founded in March 1998 and is a registered russian non-profit and non-governmental organization, located in Vladivostok. Their efforts involve monitoring the wildlife of the region, developing, implementing and administering important projects aimed at conserving the biodiversity of the Russian Far East. They work closely with foreign environmental organizations and are working to develop links the local authorities, other environmental NGO’s, scientists, educational institutions and the public.
The Amur Leopard is the most endangered cat in the world. It is balancing on the brink of extinction with a wild population totaling an estimated 100 individuals. Poaching is the main threat to the survival of the Amur Leopard but they face other threats including destruction of habitat, loss of prey species and genetic impoverishment of the population as a result of inbreeding; and time is running out to save them.
The Phoenix Fund implemented an initiative, that will provide a highly skilled, mobile, law enforcement team with essential equipment and daily allowance for regular anti-poaching patrols to be conducted in Amur Leopard territories. The team works to not only protect the Amur Leopard but to protect the ecosystems of the forest in which they live. The aim is that the initiative will reduce poaching through strengthening law enforcement, habitat protection, improving data collection, nature protection legislation, educating the public, and engaging local communities in conservation efforts.
Read more about their work here: https://fundphoenix.org/en/
African Impact Foundation
Populations of large carnivores are threatened across the globe and a significant number are experiencing population decline, due to threats from habitat loss and poaching to sale through the illegal wildlife trade. Over a third of South Africa’s leopard habitat is found in the Limpopo province, yet 95% of leopards in the area, are found outside of formally protected areas. Despite this, the majority of population and conservation-based research has occurred inside of protected areas, which house a mere 5% of the total population. This has led to a lack of data, which in turn creates unreliable results to inform conservation practices and effective species management.
African Impact Foundation is working to collect data on private lands and study the area where these cats are primarily residing, to work towards evidence based conservation practices. Ultimately, it is only through focused research in these areas, that efficient conservation solutions, that will protect the species and individuals livelihoods can be protected, contributing to the health of the entire ecosystem.
The aims of the project are:
- To Photo Leopards on Camera Traps
- To monitor wildlife corridors used by Leopards
- Study Population Densities
- Create territorial/movement maps for various predators
- Track down and Remove Snares
To date African Impact Foundation has successfully raised enough money for 8 camera traps which, through 1250 pictures, were able to identify 8 different species within the ecosystem, conduct research on their behaviours and their movement patterns. A $350 donation buys 1 camera trap for the study.
Read more about their work here: https://africanimpactfoundation.org/conservation-project-kruger/
See InSitu work from 2018 here: https://bigcatrescue.org/insitu2018/
See InSitu work from 2017 here: https://bigcatrescue.org/insitu2017/
See InSitu work from 2016 and before here: https://bigcatrescue.org/insitu2016/
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