Philanthropists Pledge $80 Million for Wild Cat Conservation

Environmental philanthropists from China, India, the United Arab Emirates and the United States have together committed U.S. $80 million over ten years to help fund conservation of all 38 species of wild cats, the wildlife conservation charity Panthera announced in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

“The guaranteed, 10-year commitment to cat conservation — an undertaking unprecedented in its scale and scope — will immediately fund the most effective solutions for conserving big cats and mitigating their primary threats: poaching for local and international trade; retaliatory and punitive killing from conflict with humans; unsustainable hunting of prey; and the loss and fragmentation of habitat,” New York-based Panthera said in a news statement. “As the animals at the top of the food chain, these cats help maintain the delicate balance of the ecosystems in which they live and upon which humans depend, and serve as the flagship species for conserving large, wild landscapes.”

The funders are:

  • H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi;
  • Jho Low, CEO of Jynwel Capital and Director of Jynwel Charitable Foundation Limited, Hong Kong;
  • Hemendra Kothari, Chairman DSP Blackrock India and the Wildlife Conservation Trust;
  • Thomas Kaplan and Daphne Recanati Kaplan, Panthera’s Founders.

“We are humbled to partner with friends who share a common vision and long-term commitment to securing the future of these big cats and their landscapes for generations to come,” said Jho Low, CEO of Jynwel Capital and Director of Jynwel Charitable Foundation.


Photograph by Chris Johns/NGS
Photograph by Chris Johns/NGS


“Panthera is the gold standard in big cat conservation. It has the proven capacity and expertise to implement this all-important global effort to save the most charismatic members of the animal kingdom,” said Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund.

“Having led by example in tiger conservation in the Indian landscape, it is heartening for the Wildlife Conservation Trust to be part of a truly unique international coalition that shares both our passion and commitment to the big cats—along with the determination to save them,” said Hemendra Kothari, Founder and Chairman of the Wildlife Conservation Trust.

Turning Point for Cat Conservation

“Today marks a turning point for global cat conservation,” said Panthera Founder and Chairman of the Board, Thomas Kaplan. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed’s “support is a game changer, opening a path for us to create what has become an unprecedented alliance of philanthropists from Arabia, China, India and America, now united in a common cause.”

The Crown Prince’s commitment to the Panthera alliance will be managed through the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, established by the Crown Prince in 2009. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) and the Managing Director of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, will represent the Fund as part of Panthera’s Board of Directors, Panthera said.

“We are thrilled to welcome these impressive individuals to our team. With this new and broad support, Panthera’s vision of regional and institutional partnerships has only just begun,” said Panthera Chief Executive Officer Alan Rabinowitz. “Our alliance is open to all, and we’re calling on people from every corner of the world to join our coalition at a time when it is still possible to ensure the long-term future of these animals and their ecosystems for generations to come.”

Projects that will be funded as a result of this commitment include:

  • Protecting and stabilizing more than half of the world’s most important Asian tiger and African lion populations;
  • Securing the largest carnivore corridor in the world for jaguars across 18 countries in Latin America;
  • Creating community-based conservation projects in nearly all countries with snow leopard populations;
  • Reducing killing and poaching in more than half of cheetah and leopard range countries; and
  • Designing and implementing a range-wide conservation strategy for cougars, inclusive of creating corridors and recovery landscapes across North America.

12418031_10153900711084116_8462971761216697621_nDavid Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.

He edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and major initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world. More than 50,000 readers have participated in 10,000 conversations.

Braun also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship

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More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn