Big Cat Rescue’s In Situ Conservation Work
How many species of wild cats can you name? 3? 13? 33? If your answer wasn’t 33 then this article explains why Big Cat Rescue primarily supports conservation efforts of the less known, smaller, exotic cat species. See our previous InSitu Conservation Work at the links at the bottom of this page.
Big Cat Rescue acknowledges our amazing volunteers each month by making a SAVE Award to a conservation project in their name, in addition to all of the other exotic cat conservation projects we fund. SAVE stands for Scratch’s Award of Volunteer Excellence, in memory of a beloved 30 year old cougar named Scratch.
Here are the SAVE Award winners for 2022.
JANUARY SAVE AWARD WINNER MUKHUNTH RAGHAVAN
Mukhunth has been a delightful addition to our team! He is motivated enough to come in at feeding time to help with AM chores, even before he begins feeding training! Positive and helpful, we are happy to have this Saturday regular! Congratulations, Mukhunth!
The January SAVE award donation of $1,000 is to Preservation of the Rusty-spotted Cat in Nepal. The Rusty-spotted cat, the world’s smallest wild cat, is found only in Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka. Threats include hunting, poaching, road kills, habitat destruction, and retaliatory killings from local farmers. The project site is the Banke-Bardiya Forest Complex which is a part of the transboundary (Nepal-India) Western Terai Arc Landscape located in the southern part of Nepal. In this area conservation efforts have focused on the large animals like tigers, leopards, and elephants. This is the first project to focus on this smallest of cats. Funds will be used for road awareness programs to reduce road kills, forest fire fighting training and tools to protect the Rusty-spotted cat habitat, and predator-proof chicken houses to reduce the retaliatory killings of the Rusty-spotted cat. Road awareness programs include educating the drivers and the general public about the importance of Rusty-spotted cats and other wildlife that frequently cross the highways and roads. For this we are installing information boards along the highways and roads; and publish and distribute the outreach materials such as posters, leaflets, and brochures. In the second phase, we are planning to implement the Vehicle Speed Control Mechanism in collaboration with the Nepal Traffic Police. In addition, we are planning to advocate for Wildlife Friendly Infrastructure like Overpasses and Underpasses specifically when extending roads and highways that intersect the core wildlife habitat including Rusty-spotted cats.
Here are the SAVE Award winners for 2022.
JANUARY SAVE AWARD WINNER JEFF LOVERING
Thanks for all of your hard work on the partner AND keeper sides these past few years!
The January SAVE award donation of $1,000 is to the Milgis Trust. Milgis Trust is a nonprofit organization founded in 2004 with the aims of protecting wildlife, habitat and local people in a very remote part of Northern Kenya. Matthews Range, Ndoto Mountains and Karisia Hills, spreading out towards Oldonyo Mara, Mount Nyiru and Mount Kulal; the trust covers approximately 8,000 sq kms and supports a diverse range of flora and fauna and the pastoral livelihoods of several different nomadic tribes including the Samburu, Turkana and Rendille.
The Milgis ecosystem is host to an extraordinary variety of wildlife because of the variation of unique habitats from the desert sands to the mountains and thick rainforests. This promotes incredible diversity and is why the Milgis has such a wide array of species, some being endemic to the area. Amongst this wildlife is wild cats including Lions, Leopards, Cheetah and Caracal.
Poaching, hunting and land degradation are all immediate threats to the Milgis ecosystem and the trust is working to combat them. By employing responsible people to be scouts and wildlife rangers, from within local communities, they become responsible for making sure wildlife and the environment are kept intact and not irresponsibly abused. They are responsible for Anti-poaching initiatives, Animal rescues, mitigating human-animal conflict and acting as a liaison between the Milgis Trust and their communities. In turn the healthy ecosystem is to the benefit of all that depend upon it. A large part of the trust’s conservation strategy is the implementation of projects which help the communities with some of their challenges. They have managed to get people to understand that by caring for the environment, ecotourism will increase in the area creating income for the people as well as allowing the Milgis to implement the health, education, veterinary aid for livestock and water projects.
Read more about their work here: https://www.milgistrust.com/
FEBRUARY SAVE AWARD WINNER KAT LIGHTCAP
Always willing to cover when we need her, ready with a laugh, and always working hard for the kitties. for the past couple years, Kat has been one cool, well, Kat! Congratulations, Kat!
The February SAVE award donation of $1,000 is to The Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit. The Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit was founded in 2013 by Transfrontier Africa NPC and is an all-female unit of 36 individuals, who work to guard South Africa’s Wildlife. Early detection and rapid response is all that stands between poachers and wildlife including Lions, Elephants and Rhino. The Black Mambas are the first line of defense providing boots on the ground and are responsible for the early detection of poaching insurgents through monitoring and surveillance during their daily patrols. The Black Mambas remove snares and traps set by the poachers and since inception, have identified and destroyed dozens of poacher camps and bushmeat kitchens.
The lion is the latest species swept up in the illegal wildlife trade for the Asian ‘medicinal’ market. As wild tiger populations dwindle, poachers are turning to lions to feed the insatiable appetite for ‘potions’ made from cat bones and sold as Chinese “remedies”. Lion bones are virtually indistinguishable from tiger bones, and bones from wild lions are considered more efficacious than those bred in captivity.
Read more about their work here: https://www.blackmambas.org/black-mambas.html
MARCH SAVE AWARD WINNER TAMMY FORD
Not only is she here helping out the cats but Tammy also spends her time with her chickens, and volunteers her days around various sanctuaries with Animal Warriors. Always working hard for the animals! Congratulations, Tammy!
The March SAVE award donation of $1,000 is to The Freeland Foundation. The Freeland Foundation is an International Non-Government Organization, headquartered in Bangkok, that works in Asia on environmental conservation. The organization combats the illegal wildlife trade and habitat conservation, addressing threats to endangered species, including poaching in protected areas, smuggling, and the subsequent sale and consumption of Wildlife.
Currently in and around Khao Laem National Park in Western Thailand, close to the Myanmar border, Freeland is working to monitor and mitigate direct threats to the tigers that reside there. With less than 200 Indochinese tigers remaining in the wild, Thailand is making extra efforts to ensure the future of this endangered species. This landscape is a very important habitat for tigers, and an area that suffers from high levels of conflict between locals and the tigers.
2 tigers were found poached with their skins and bones prepared for sale, in the same area a local was attacked by a Tiger a few weeks prior. The poachers responsible were caught, and claimed to have killed the wild big cats after they ate their cattle. Freeland also became aware of a three legged tiger, thought to be a victim of poaching, whose situation typifies threats to other big cats. She was discovered through tree-strapped camera traps that took photographs of her eating cattle that was part of a herd illegally shepherded through the national park. She went for the easy prey.
Freeland is working to track down the injured female, prosecute more poachers, hold mitigation workshops to teach locals how to coexist with the big cats, expand ranger patrolling through new ranger training and support, build a new ranger substation and increase investigations into the cross border poaching and illegal trade with Burma.
Read more about their work here: https://www.freeland.org
APRIL SAVE AWARD WINNER DIANE AMISON-LORING
If you don’t see Diane on property it’s because she’s out spreading our mission about the BCPSA to schools and online! She’s also in the social WP group dropping us funny cat related jokes to make us smile! Between all that she likes to drop off treats to the keeper cafe to keep the humans at Big Cat enriched! She also proofreads & submits edits to the Big Cat Times for us before printing! Is there anything you can’t do?!! Thanks for all you do! Congratulations, Diane!
The April SAVE award donation of $1,000 is to Embaka. Embaka is a registered non-profit Community Based Conservation Organization, located in Uganda that is working on threat reduction and conservation of the elusive African Golden Cat. They are a part of the newly created African golden cat Conservation Alliance and Working Group (AGCCA & WG), whose communal goal is to expand and oversee the conservation of the African golden cat across the entire species range.
The African Golden Cat is Africa’s least known wild cat and listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list. Embaka is currently working on a Smile for Conservation initiative where they provide local communities with health and financial aid in return for anti-poaching cooperation and involvement. This initiative is focused towards communities who live around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a known residence of the African Golden Cat. The initiative aims to have a poachers to protectors effect by providing local communities with the use of mobile dental clinics, the first of its kind in the region, to provide free oral health check-ups, pain relieving procedures and oral health education. The households to benefit are selected at random via public and fully transparent lotteries from all households and are required to 1) have taken the pledge to support anti-poaching efforts either by committing to stop poaching and/or volunteer in the anti-poaching community policing groups and 2) are living not further than 1 km from the Bwindi boundary.
The outcome of this activity will be improved health and wellbeing for all age classes, women and men, and increased awareness about the importance of African golden cats. The pamphlets announcing the dental clinics will have the Embaka (African golden cat) logo and the service will be clearly tied to conservation and offered as a benefit / incentive to households that have pledged to voluntarily combat poaching within the community.
Read more about Embaka’s work here: https://www.savingafricangoldencat.com
MAY SAVE AWARD WINNER REBECCA WILLIAMS
This month we celebrate Rebecca and the 10 years she has dedicated her life in the U.S. for us and the cats. We will never forget you, Rebecca. All animals are lucky to have you as an advocate, not just the cats! We know that no matter where life may take you, you will always be a voice for those who have none. Safe travels, Rebecca, and we already miss you!
In honor of Rebecca and her new chapter, $1000 will be donated to the Felidae Conservation Fund. Across much of California, pumas (Puma concolor) are the last remaining large carnivore and have important ecological roles as keystone predators that regulate mesocarnivores, such as bobcats (Lynx rufus). Pumas are a specially protected mammal in California but throughout their range, habitat fragmentation and human activity have contributed to population declines, and human encroachment in and around wildlife habitat continues to intensify. Felidae Conservation Fund is working to collect data, non-invasively through camera trapping and scat collection, to monitor wildlife in the San Francisco Bay and Orange County, with a focus on quantifying the effects of human activity (e.g. recreation pressure, exposure to rodenticides and other toxins), on puma and bobcat habitat use.
This information can then be used to inform additional targeted outreach efforts to inform and educate local communities about puma and bobcat ecology, behavior, and movement. They are also working closely with local communities to highlight and reduce areas of human-wildlife conflict, while addressing misconceptions and fears people may have about the species.
Read more about their work here: https://felidaefund.org
JUNE AWARD WINNER PENNY NICHOLS
Penny is always ready to help out on property with cat care or projects, and even comes in on different days of the week when we need help! She is eager and happy to be here! We are happy to have you here, thanks for all of your help! Congratulations, Penny!
The June SAVE award donation of $1,000 is to Wildlife SOS. Wildlife SOS India is a conservation non-profit, established in 1995 with the primary objective of rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife in distress, and preserving India’s natural heritage. Alongside front-line conservation, human-animal conflict mitigation, education and habitat preservation, Wildlife SOS works to curb the illegal trade and trafficking of wildlife and wildlife products such as pelts, bones and other harvested parts from poached animals. An estimated $8 to $10 billion is generated annually by wildlife trafficking and illegal trade, with a large quantity and variety of products smuggled from India to International markets including tigers, leopards, bears, birds and reptiles.
In 1995 Wildlife SOS formed an anti-poaching squad called Forest Watch, that consists of a complex network of informants, gathering critical information involving Illegal poaching and trade. Forest watch has assisted the forest department, police department and law enforcement agencies to crack down on traffickers and smugglers, recovering animal skins, body parts and sometimes live animals. In addition they offer grassroots-level training programs and workshops to help train law enforcement with targeting wildlife crime prevention in the field.
Read more about their work here: https://wildlifesos.org/conservation/anti-poaching/
JULY SAVE AWARD WINNER JULIE RIDDLE
Julie is around on weekends to help out with anything with a smile! Thank you for your hard work, Julie, we are happy to have you! Congratulations, Julie!
The July SAVE award donation of $1,000 is to the Urban Fishing Cat Conservation Project. The Urban Fishing Cat Conservation Project began in 2014 as a NGO non-profit organization working to conserve Colombo’s fishing cat population, after the project team saw the devastation caused to the city’s urban wetlands through dredging and landfilling practices. They made it their mission to understand how Fishing Cats were adapting to this rapid urbanisation and habitat loss, and the best practices to mitigate threats and ensure their long term conservation in Sri Lanka.
The Fishing Cat is the country’s second largest wild cat, currently listed as endangered, and their research has shown that Colombo is the only known large city in the world where wild fishing cats reside, not only in urban wetlands but also within the heart of the city. The project team has worked very closely with the Sri Lanka Land Development Corporation (SLLDC), and the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) since the very beginning, to conserve the urban wetlands by collecting vital information about the fishing cats living within these habitats, through GPS collaring, camera traps, community involvement and awareness programs. By sharing the information they have obtained with relevant government stakeholders, the Fishing Cat has become a flagship species for wetland conservation in Colombo.
Read more about their work here: https://fishingcats.lk/about/
AUGUST SAVE AWARD WINNER BREE MC ARTHUR
Bree is a lovely addition to our Saturday crew, helpful, friendly conversation and serving green shirt hours most months! Congratulations, Bree!
The August SAVE award donation of $1,000 is to the The Pampas Cat Working Group (PCWG). Muñoa’s Pampas Cat (recently proposed to be a distinct species, Leopardus munoai) is a small felid that is endemic to the Pampas biome, which includes southern Brazil, Uruguay, and northeastern Argentina. The cat is considered Critically Endangered by the Brazilian Red List with its main threat being habitat loss as native grassland has been converted to soy plantations. The Pampas Cat Working Group (PCWG) is a network of conservationists and researchers that study and protect the pampas cat across its distribution in South America. The PCWG operates a number of on the ground conservation efforts involving members of the local community to mitigate clearly identified threats to the existence of the cats.
Many of the local residents who share habitat with the cats are poor and rely heavily on owning chickens. In many cases they lack the resources to have proper coops to protect the chickens from the cats, particularly at night. Loss of chickens due to predation by the cats results in retaliatory killing of the cats. One of PCWG’s very successful programs involves helping the locals improve inadequate coops or construct coops that are sturdy enough to protect the chickens. Doing so removes the motivation for the retaliatory killings of the cats. Our donation of $1000 to PCWG will fund coop improvement and construction for a significant number of local residents in Southern Brazil.
Read more about their work here: https://www.facebook.com/pampascatwg/about
SEPTEMBER SAVE AWARD WINNER NADIR ELAMIN
Nadir is a huge help on Sundays and we love having him around to help with everything from projects to a feeding buddy! Congratulations, Nadir!
The September SAVE award donation of $1,000 is to the Fishing Cat Conservation Alliance. In Sri Lanka, the Fishing Cat Conservation Alliance supports two rehabilitation centers that treat and release three small felids common to the island, i.e., fishing cats, jungle cats, and rusty-spotted cats. The fishing cat is categorized as endangered in Sri Lanka. As its name suggests, it is a master angler and wetland specialist. The jungle cat is smaller than the fishing cat. It is usually found amongst long grass and scrubland of the dry zone and rarely in the open jungle.
The rusty-spotted cat is the smallest wild cat in Sri Lanka, similar to the size of an ordinary domestic cat. It is rare and the one that occurs in Sri Lanka is unique to the island at the sub-species level. Sri Lanka’s extensive rural road system causes many injured wild cats that end up at rescue centers. Other arrivals include kittens whose mothers have most likely been killed by vehicles. Sri Lanka is recovering from an economic crisis, including recently defaulting on its government debt payments. Among the issues this creates for the centers is that the medical supplies needed to treat rescued wildlife are simply not available for purchase in the country. In addition, currency controls limit purchases of goods from outside the country. Our $1000 donation will be used to purchase medical supplies in the US and ship them to the centers.
Read more about their work here: https://fishingcat.org/
OCTOBER SAVE AWARD WINNER NIKKI WEINKAUF
Nikki comes in on weekends and it is always lovely to see her smiling face! She is always ready to help! Congratulations, Nikki!
The October SAVE award donation of $1,000 is to the Indus Fishing Cat Project
Indus Fishing Cat Project is a partner project of the Fishing Cat Conservation Alliance working in wetlands and scrub habitats in southeastern Pakistan, home to fishing cats, jungle cats and Asiatic wild cats. One of the challenges to these small cats is retaliatory killings that occur when the cats kill chickens that local residents raise and rely on for food and for their livelihoods. The project uses camera traps to determine if chicken losses are from the cats. If so, the project provides predator-proof coops and then uses the camera traps to demonstrate their efficacy. This removes the incentive for retaliatory killings. The camera traps are also used to document the distribution of the cats in the country to identify areas in which conservation work may be needed. This SAVE award will be used to fund camera traps for the project.
Read more about their work here: https://fishingcat.org/
NOVEMBER SAVE AWARD WINNER EMMA DALLAS
Emma has been a wonderful addition to our Intern, Coordinator, and now Staff teams! When Emma is not cleaning, feeding, taking care of rehabs, meds, coordinating or doing daily chores, you can find her working hard to keep out cages in TIP TOP shape! Thank you for working so hard fo the cats! Is there anything you can’t do?! Congratulations, Emma!
The November SAVE award donation of $1,000 is to Embaka to save the African Golden Cat. The African golden cat is Africa’s only forest obligate and least studied species. It occurs only in the equatorial forests of Africa where illegal hunting of wildlife (including the African golden cat) for bushmeat consumption and trade is ubiquitous. Embaka is a registered Community Based Conservation Organization (CBO) that provides alternative sources of animal protein and household income in frontline communities surrounding Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.
Providing an alternative to bushmeat removes the incentive to poach and converts participants into anti-poaching advocates. One of the successful programs is known as the “pig seed bank.” Embaka helps a poacher family start a small pig farm by donating an adult reproductive female pig. In return the family helps their nearest neighbor (regardless of poacher or not) to the do the same by donating the first female piglet to them. That way the benefits of conservation cascade throughout the whole community creating the much-needed social pressure against poaching. This SAVE award will be used to fund the pig seed bank.
Read more about their work here: https://www.savingafricangoldencat.com/
DECEMBER SAVE AWARD WINNER RYAN TESONE
Last, but Definitely not least SAVE Award of 2022: Ryan Tesone! Ryan, thank you for all of your dedication to the cats the past few years during your internships. Ryan is our awesome Wednesday coordinator and works hard to make sure everything gets done, and everyone is thanked! Congratulations, Ryan!
The December SAVE award donation of $1,000 is to The Pampas Cat Working Group
Although it is named after the low altitude grasslands known as pampas, this cat occurs in grassland, shrub land, and dry forest at elevations up to 16,000 feet. It exists in numerous South American countries, but it is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. In Peru the greatest threat is retaliatory killing from the cats preying on poultry. The Pampas Cat Working Group is an organization devoted to working with the community to eliminate such killings. One of the most effective ways to combat this threat is to provide predator-proof hen houses and use trail cameras to demonstrate their effect, removing the motivation for retaliatory killings. This SAVE award will be used to purchase trail cameras for this program.
Read more about their work here: https://www.facebook.com/pampascatwg
See More InSitu Work Funded by Big Cat Rescue
See the current year of InSitu work here: https://bigcatrescue.org/insitu/
See InSitu work from 2021 here: https://bigcatrescue.org/insitu2021/
See InSitu work from 2020 here: https://bigcatrescue.org/insitu2020/
See InSitu work from 2019 here: https://bigcatrescue.org/insitu2019/
See InSitu work from 2018 here: http://bigcatrescue.org/insitu2018/
See InSitu work from 2017 here: http://bigcatrescue.org/insitu2017/
See InSitu work from 2016 and before here: http://bigcatrescue.org/insitu2016/