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Rabinowitz A.,Panthera | Zeller K.A.,Panthera
Biological Conservation | Year: 2010

Large, wide-ranging carnivores face greater threats and more persistent declines than most other mammal species. An important conservation tool for these carnivores has been range-wide priority-setting exercises that have helped identify critical threats and key populations. However, such exercises often fail to identify functional movement corridors or account for genetic connectivity. We present a new model for jaguar (Panthera onca) conservation that uses a geographic information system (GIS) and expert input to create a dispersal cost surface and identify least-cost corridors connecting the 90 known populations across the jaguar's range. Results indicate 78% of historic jaguar range, an area of approximately 14.9 million km2, still holds potential for jaguar movement and dispersal. We identified 182 potential corridors between populations, ranging from 3 to 1607 km in length; 44 of these corridors are characterized as being of immediate concern due to their limited width, and thus their high potential for being severed. Resultant maps, displaying priority populations and corridors, are used to direct field-based research and conservation efforts. Field assessment and refinement of the corridors is ongoing. This is the first attempt to create and implement such a holistic model of range-wide conservation for a large carnivore species. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

New York, NY-Africa's protected parks and reserves are capable of supporting three to four times as many wild lions if well funded and managed, according to a new report led by Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization. Published in Biological Conservation, the study shows that populations of the African lion and its prey species are drastically below their natural potential inside most of Africa's protected areas (PA). In recent years, lion numbers have declined steeply. Some estimates suggest as few as 20,000 wild lions remain in all of Africa, compared to 30,000 that existed just two decades ago. Yet, the study indicates that with sufficient global support for African conservation efforts, the continent's protected areas could support as many as 83,000 free-ranging lions. Panthera Research Associate and Wildlife Conservation Network Conservation Initiatives Director, Dr. Peter Lindsey, shared, "Africa's incredible protected areas hold the key to securing the future of lions and several other wildlife species, and can yield significant benefits for people. African governments have set aside enough space to conserve lions effectively - we just need to find ways to enable those areas to be funded sufficiently and managed effectively. While a diverse set of approaches are needed to achieve lion conservation, it is clear that investing in improved management of PAs has particular potential to boost the conservation prospects for lions." Lindsey continued, "Encouragingly, there are more than just biological reasons for investing in PAs. Well-funded protected areas, and especially those with lions, can play a critical role in developing tourism industries whose revenues can help to grow and diversify economies and create jobs. In addition, protected areas also play essential roles in providing ecosystem services, such as watershed protection. By investing sufficiently in Africa's protected area network, the global community has the opportunity to halt and reverse the decline in lion numbers." The study found that less than one third of the 175 parks and reserves examined are currently conserving lions at more than 50% of their 'carrying capacity' - an ecological term for the natural population levels animals reach if human threats are minimal. Parks were in slightly better shape for lion prey, with around 45% of surveyed protected areas conserving herbivores at over 50% of their carrying capacity. The illegal bushmeat trade stands out as the most severe and prevalent threat facing lions and many other wildlife species in Africa's protected areas. Following closely behind are a multitude of threats, including human-lion conflict, encroachment of PAs by humans and livestock and in some cases, the emerging threat of direct poaching of lions for the illegal wildlife trade. Panthera and partner scientists found that adequate management budgets and management capacity are essential pre-requisites for successfully conserving lions in PAs, as they permit effective law enforcement and other critical conservation initiatives. Those protected areas dedicating the use of their land primarily for photo-tourism operations are also associated with the greatest success in conserving lions and their prey. Today, sub-Saharan Africa's tourism industry, supported by dozens of parks and reserves, is valued at $25 billion dollars, compared to the $20 billion a year illegal wildlife trade that is increasingly targeting Africa's big cats and wildlife for their precious parts. Panthera also recognizes the importance of making sure that local people have a stake in and stand to benefit from PAs and big cat conservation. Simply put, managing PAs and protecting wildlife will be cheaper and easier if local people are supportive, and have a stake in the process. Panthera Senior Lion Program Director, Dr. Paul Funston, shared, "There is just no replacement for large protected areas that invest adequately in management and protection of their lions. Very few areas in Africa meet these needs, and those that do are pure gold for lions. They are places where tourists can see lions really being lions in all the amazing facets of their behavior, and where lions properly fulfill their ecological role." Funston continued, "Protected areas are at the heart of the formula to save Africa's lions, and to ensure the species lives on, lions and their wild landscapes require nothing short of a wealthy and immediate investment from the global community - everyone from donors in New York City and African nations to international governments, corporations, foundations and NGOs who want to be a part of the solution in saving one of our planet's most remarkable wild animals." While in many ways bleak, the lion's future glimmers with hope. Panthera's President and publication co-author, Dr. Luke Hunter, noted, "Many African nations have allocated truly massive swaths of land as protected parks and reserves. However, for Africa's vast PA network to fulfill its potential for conserving lions and other species, there is an urgent need to greatly escalate funding and capacity to effectively manage those parks. That will require a renewed commitment, both from African governments and the international community." Panthera's Project Leonardo leads or supports initiatives in 15 African nations to bring lion populations back to a minimum of 30,000 individuals within 15 years. Learn more. Panthera, founded in 2006, is devoted exclusively to preserving wild cats and their critical role in the world's ecosystems. Panthera's team of leading biologists, law enforcement experts and wild cat advocates develop innovative strategies based on the best available science to protect cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards and tigers and their vast landscapes. In 50 countries around the world, Panthera works with a wide variety of stakeholders to reduce or eliminate the most pressing threats to wild cats--securing their future, and ours. Visit panthera.org


News Article | March 1, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

New York, NY - In a highly controversial move, South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) recently announced plans to formalize the country's legal trade in captive-bred lion skeletons, proposing to institute a quota of 800 skeletons per year eligible for export permits. The number of captive-bred lion carcasses legally exported from South Africa--primarily feeding a growing market among upwardly mobile Asians for luxury products such as lion bone wine--has grown exponentially since 2007, as lion bones have begun to fill demand for increasingly scarce tiger bones. Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, condemned the quota as arbitrary and potentially devastating for wild lion and critically endangered tiger populations. Panthera is calling on the DEA to institute a moratorium on lion bone exports, effective immediately. "The government's proposed quota of 800 lion skeletons for legal export has absolutely no grounding in science," said Dr. Paul Funston, Senior Director of Panthera's Lion Program. "It is irresponsible to establish policy that could further imperil wild lions--already in precipitous decline throughout much of Africa--when the facts are clear; South Africa's lion breeding industry makes absolutely no positive contribution to conserving lions and, indeed, further imperils them." Dr. Funston continued, "It is confounding that a country whose iconic wild lions are such a source of national pride--not to mention tourist revenue--would take such risks to sustain a marginal captive breeding industry that is condemned globally for its shameful practices. The legal farming of lions for tourists to bottle-feed, pet, and ultimately hunt in tiny enclosures is a stain on South Africa's reputation as stewards of Africa's wildlife." Proponents of the captive lion trade argue the industry reduces demand for wild lion parts, thereby benefitting wild lion conservation. However, there is significant evidence that South Africa's legal trade in captive-bred lion trophies is accelerating the slaughter of wild lions for their parts in neighboring countries and is in fact increasing demand for wild lion parts in Asia--a market that did not exist before South Africa started exporting lion bones in 2007. Recent anecdotal data and press reports from neighboring countries show an increase in lion killings for their bones and parts: Panthera President and Chief Conservation Officer, Dr. Luke Hunter, added, "There is not one shred of scientific evidence showing that canned hunting and legal lion bone exports take the poaching pressure off wild lion populations. In fact, it is increasingly clear that these practices stimulate demand for wild lion, leopard and tiger parts throughout the world. The CITES mandate to limit captive-bred lion skeleton exports from South Africa was a step in the right direction; with global pressure mounting on the government to ban canned hunting, we may soon see the end of this reprehensible industry." Wild lion populations are on a steep decline, with only 20,000 remaining today, down from 30,000 just two decades ago. The species faces a deadly matrix of threats in the wild, ranging from conflict with people and bushmeat poaching to habitat loss, unsustainable trophy hunting and the emerging threat of poaching for the illegal wildlife trade. Panthera's Project Leonardo leads or supports initiatives in 15 African nations to bring lion populations back to a minimum of 30,000 individuals within 15 years. Learn more. Read Beyond Cecil: Africa's Lions in Crisis for more information about the plight of the African lion, and take the pledge to #LetLionsLive at letlionslive.org Panthera, founded in 2006, is devoted exclusively to preserving wild cats and their critical role in the world's ecosystems. Panthera's team of leading biologists, law enforcement experts and wild cat advocates develop innovative strategies based on the best available science to protect cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards and tigers and their vast landscapes. In 50 countries around the world, Panthera works with a wide variety of stakeholders to reduce or eliminate the most pressing threats to wild cats--securing their future, and ours. Visit panthera.org


OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - 23 fév. 2017) - Le Musée canadien de la nature, qui est le musée national de sciences et d'histoire naturelles du Canada, annonce aujourd'hui la réception du plus important don philanthropique de son histoire : un fonds de 4 millions de dollars de la famille Ross Beaty de Vancouver, qui favorisera les activités du Musée concernant la recherche et les collections axées sur la découverte des espèces. Les 4 millions serviront à financer trois activités primordiales de ce qui sera connu sous le nom de Centre Beaty pour la découverte des espèces. Tirant profit des collections nationales du Musée et des compétences de son personnel scientifique, ce centre d'excellence favorise la création, l'avancement et l'échange des connaissances sur divers aspects des espèces d'hier et d'aujourd'hui : découverte, appellation, évolution, écologie et classification. Le fonds Beaty financera : Le centre se situera dans l'édifice de la recherche et des collections nationales du Musée : le Campus du patrimoine naturel à Gatineau au Québec. « L'extraordinaire générosité de la famille Beaty traduit sa vive adhésion à l'oeuvre du Musée canadien de la nature qui se voue à la recherche en histoire naturelle, à la conservation des collections et à la vulgarisation de connaissances sur le monde naturel, déclare Meg Beckel, la présidente-directrice générale du Musée. Nous espérons que ce don porteur de changements incitera d'autres personnes à soutenir l'action du Musée, qui accroît sa capacité à échanger les connaissances à l'échelle du monde, à appuyer de jeunes scientifiques et à susciter compréhension, respect et appréciation à l'endroit du monde naturel dans l'espoir d'un avenir meilleur. » L'annonce du don a eu lieu en présence de Ross et Trisha Beaty, qui résident à Vancouver. M. Beaty est géologue et entrepreneur dans le domaine des ressources, tandis que son épouse est médecin. Leur passion commune pour la nature et l'environnement les a incités à appuyer la mission du Musée. « On me rappelle souvent que moins de 1 % des dons philanthropiques visent la nature et l'environnement. Pourtant l'espèce humaine à elle seule a une empreinte énorme sur les autres millions d'espèces qui n'ont aucune voix. Voilà pourquoi je suis fier de prêter mon appui au Musée et à ses compétences en recherche, explique Ross Beaty, dont la philanthropie s'est aussi manifestée par la création du Beaty Biodiversity Museum au campus de l'Université de Colombie-Britannique. Je souhaite que cet investissement contribuera à promouvoir le Musée canadien de la Nature en tant qu'établissement de recherche sur la biodiversité du Canada et à renforcer sa réputation de grand musée national d'histoire naturelle. » « Le Musée canadien de la nature joue un rôle primordial dans la préservation des ressources du Canada, la sensibilisation de la population et l'inspiration d'innovations. Ce don permettra au Musée de continuer à protéger et à promouvoir le patrimoine naturel et la biodiversité d'exception du pays et à favoriser un engagement fructueux à l'égard de la nature d'hier, d'aujourd'hui et de demain. À l'occasion du 150e anniversaire de la Confédération canadienne en 2017, nous encourageons la population de tout le pays à visiter les musées, à y puiser des connaissances et à retourner aux sources de leur histoire et de leur culture », déclare l'honorable Mélanie Joly, ministre du Patrimoine canadien. La moitié des 4 millions de dollars serviront à la mise sur pied de la réserve de la collection cryogénique nationale, qui comprendra une salle d'examen ainsi que de grandes cuves réfrigérées à l'azote liquide où seront conservés à très basse température les échantillons de tissus et le matériel génétique. Ces matières proviendront des activités de recherche du Musée, de dons d'organismes gouvernementaux et d'universités du Canada et de l'étranger. La somme de 1 million servira à numériser et à produire des images de haute résolution d'environ 350 000 spécimens de l'Arctique des collections du Musée. Certains de ces spécimens comptent parmi les meilleurs exemples de plantes, d'animaux de fossiles et de minéraux de cette région. Grâce à l'accès gratuit à ces données numérisées, les chercheurs, les étudiants, les historiens, les décideurs et les éducateurs du monde entier pourront consulter ces témoins de l'histoire naturelle de l'Arctique. Le dernier million de dollars sera consacré à la Bourse postdoctorale Beaty pour la découverte des espèces. Dotée par l'entremise de la Fondation communautaire d'Ottawa, cette bourse financera un scientifique de niveau postdoctoral tous les deux ans pour une étude sur les espèces en péril. Le chercheur devra également vulgariser les connaissances sur la disparition des espèces, les espèces en péril et l'importance de leur préservation. La bourse devrait entrer en vigueur au printemps 2018. À l'annonce du don, le Musée a remercié la famille Beaty par un hommage tout personnel. L'entomologiste du Musée Bob Anderson, spécialiste des charançons (un groupe de coléoptères), a nommé en l'honneur des généreux donateurs une nouvelle espèce qu'il avait découverte : Sicoderus beatyi. Un mot sur le Musée canadien de la nature Le Musée canadien de la nature est le musée national de sciences et d'histoire naturelles du Canada. Il a vocation à transmettre des idées fondées sur des faits, à procurer des expériences instructives et à favoriser une relation enrichissante avec la nature d'aujourd'hui, d'hier et de demain. Il y parvient grâce à sa recherche scientifique, à sa collection de 14,6 millions de spécimens, à ses programmes éducatifs, à ses expositions permanentes et itinérantes, et à son site Web dynamique nature.ca. Le Musée est un des membres fondateurs de l'Alliance des musées d'histoire naturelle du Canada et du Comité sur la situation des espèces en péril au Canada. Il travaille de concert avec ses partenaires nationaux et internationaux pour échanger les connaissances sur le monde naturel. Un mot sur Ross Beaty et sa famille L'oeuvre philanthropique de Ross et de Trisha Beaty s'exprime par l'entremise de leur fondation Sitka, qui finance des organisations vouées à la conservation des terres et de la nature, qui soutient des projets et des groupes communautaires environnementaux dans le monde et qui affiche son rôle de chef de file en matière d'intendance et d'éducation sur l'environnement. Ross Beaty est géologue et entrepreneur dans le domaine des ressources. Il jouit de plus de 45 ans d'une expérience internationale dans les secteurs de l'énergie renouvelable et des minéraux. Diplômé en géologie et en droit de l'Université de la Colombie-Britannique et en géologie de l'Imperial College, M. Beaty est reconnu mondialement comme un chef de file dans l'exploitation des ressources renouvelables et non renouvelables. Il a créé et cédé plusieurs sociétés, mais reste fondateur et président de deux entreprises : Pan American Silver Corp., qui compte parmi les plus importants producteurs d'argent au monde, et Alterra Power Corp., une entreprise d'énergie renouvelable de taille moyenne qui possède des installations solaires, éoliennes hydro-électriques et géothermiques en Colombie-Britannique, au Texas, en Indiana et en Islande. M. Beaty se distingue par ses œuvres philanthropiques en faveur de l'environnement, qu'il prodigue principalement par l'entremise de sa fondation Sitka. Il siège au comité consultatif de Nature Trust de la Colombie-Britannique ; il est directeur de la fondation Pacific Salmon et de Panthera en plus d'être le mécène du Beaty Biodiversity Museum de l'Université de Colombie-Britannique. Son épouse est médecin ; ils ont un fils et quatre filles.


News Article | October 26, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Upper Paleolithic humans may have hunted cave lions for their pelts, perhaps contributing to their extinction, according to a study published October 26, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Marián Cueto from the Universidad de Cantabria, Spain, and colleagues. The Eurasian cave lion, likely among the largest lion species ever to have lived, became extinct around 14,000 years ago, but the reasons for its disappearance are not clear. Upper Paleolithic humans were previously known to have hunted other small and large carnivores, but archaeological evidence of lion hunting is sparse. To help fill in this gap, Cueto and colleagues examined nine fossilized cave lion toe bones from the Upper Paleolithic cave site of La Garma, in northern Spain, for evidence of cave lion exploitation by humans. The researchers found that most bones showed signs of having been modified by humans using stone tools, with a specialized technique similar to that used by modern hunters when skinning prey to keep the claws attached to the fur. The authors suggest that the toe bones they analysed may therefore have been part of a single lion pelt, which possibly lay on the floor of the occupied cave. La Garma is known to have been associated with human rituals, and cave lions may have been symbolic animals for Upper Paleolithic humans. While the analysis is not definitive evidence that Upper Paleolithic humans exploited cave lions for their pelts, the authors speculate that human hunting of cave lions, perhaps as part of ritual activities, might have been a factor in cave lion extinction. In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available paper: http://dx. Citation: Cueto M, Camarós E, Castaños P, Ontañón R, Arias P (2016) Under the Skin of a Lion: Unique Evidence of Upper Paleolithic Exploitation and Use of Cave Lion (Panthera spelaea) from the Lower Gallery of La Garma (Spain). PLoS ONE 11(10): e0163591. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0163591 Funding: Fieldwork in La Garma is possible thanks to the financial support of Government of Cantabria within the framework of the agreements with the University of Cantabria. EC has been beneficiary of a FI-AGAUR Grant from the Generalitat de Catalunya, and developed a research stay at Instituto Internacional de Investigaciones Prehistóricas de Cantabria (University of Cantabria). Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


News Article | December 26, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

Cheetahs, the world's fastest land animals, are racing to the edge of extinction, conservationists say. Only about 7,100 cheetahs remain in the wild, according to a new analysis of the cheetah population. The carnivores have lost about 91 percent of their historic range in Africa and Asia. Researchers said the latest figures show the cheetah may be more imperiled than previously thought. SEE ALSO: Giant rats could help fight wildlife smuggling in Africa "We've just hit the reset button in our understanding of how close cheetahs are to extinction," Kim Young-Overton, who directs the cheetah program at conservation group Panthera, said in a statement. Panthera, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Zoological Society of London led the cheetah research, which was published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study follows similarly grim reports about other iconic species, such as giraffes and elephants. In early December, a global group of conservationists and governments put giraffes on the official watch list of globally threatened and endangered species. The world's tallest land animals are now considered "vulnerable" after their population shrank nearly 40 percent in just 30 years, from roughly 163,000 giraffes in 1985 to roughly 97,500 in 2015, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Scientists blamed habitat loss, poaching and disease for the giraffe's decline. Elephants are also rapidly dwindling as poachers slaughter them for their tusks and humans encroach on the wild landscape. The IUCN in September adopted a resolution to ban all domestic ivory sales in an effort to save the pachyderms from extinction. Cheetahs are similarly threatened by widespread habitat loss and illegal trafficking. But conservationists say the lightning-fast cats are especially hard to protect because they roam stealthily across long distances that span multiple borders and government jurisdictions. "Given the secretive nature of this elusive cat, it has been difficult to gather hard information on the species, leading to its plight being overlooked," Sarah Durant, the study's lead author, said in a news release. Cheetahs are among the most wide-ranging carnivores, with documented home ranges of more than 3,000 square kilometers, or about 1,160 square miles.  The researchers found that over 75 percent of cheetahs' current range lies outside of officially protected areas. For cheetahs, this means most of the places where they hunt, breed and sleep are likely spots for habitat destruction, poaching, or the overhunting of cheetahs' prey. Such threats have already had devastating consequences for cheetahs in Asia.  Cheetahs have been driven out of 98 percent of their historical range on the continent. Iran is now the only country with a known population of Asiatic Cheetahs, with fewer than 50 individuals spread across just three areas, researchers said. The rest of the world's cheetahs live in Africa, where they face growing threats from rising human populations and land-use changes.  In Zimbabwe, for instance, about 85 percent of the country's cheetah population has disappeared in the last 16 years, from about 1,200 cheetahs to no more than 170, according to Monday's study. Durant and her colleagues urged the IUCN to "up-list" the cheetah from "vulnerable" to "endangered" on its Red List of Threatened Species.  The move would put the cats just two steps away from being declared "extinct in the wild." BONUS: The world’s tallest mammal is now threatened with extinction


News Article | December 26, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

New York - The world's fastest land animal, the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), is sprinting towards the edge of extinction and could soon be lost forever unless urgent, landscape-wide conservation action is taken, according to a study published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Led by Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Panthera and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the study reveals that just 7,100 cheetahs remain globally, representing the best available estimate for the species to date. Furthermore, the cheetah has been driven out of 91% of its historic range. Asiatic cheetah populations have been hit hardest, with fewer than 50 individuals remaining in one isolated pocket of Iran. Due to the species' dramatic decline, the study's authors are calling for the cheetah to be up-listed from 'Vulnerable' to 'Endangered' on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Typically, greater international conservation support, prioritization and attention are granted to wildlife classified as 'Endangered', in efforts to stave off impending extinction. Dr. Sarah Durant, ZSL/WCS lead author and Project Leader for the Rangewide Conservation Program for Cheetah and African Wild Dog, said: "This study represents the most comprehensive analysis of cheetah status to date. Given the secretive nature of this elusive cat, it has been difficult to gather hard information on the species, leading to its plight being overlooked. Our findings show that the large space requirements for cheetah, coupled with the complex range of threats faced by the species in the wild, mean that it is likely to be much more vulnerable to extinction than was previously thought." Durant continued, "We have worked with range state governments and the cheetah conservation community to put in place comprehensive frameworks for action to save the species, but funds and resources are needed to implement them. The recent decisions made at the CITES CoP17 meeting in Johannesburg represent a significant breakthrough particularly in terms of stemming the illegal flow of live cats trafficked out of the Horn of Africa region. However, concerted action is needed to reverse ongoing declines in the face of accelerating land use changes across the continent." While renowned for its speed and spots, the degree of persecution cheetahs face both inside and outside of protected areas is largely unrecognized. Even within guarded parks and reserves, cheetahs rarely escape the pervasive threats of human-wildlife conflict, prey loss due to overhunting by people, habitat loss and the illegal trafficking of cheetah parts and trade as exotic pets. To make matters worse, as one of the world's most wide-ranging carnivores, 77% of the cheetah's habitat falls outside of protected areas. Unrestricted by boundaries, the species' wide-ranging movements weaken law enforcement protection and greatly amplify its vulnerability to human pressures. Indeed, largely due to pressures on wildlife and their habitat outside of protected areas, Zimbabwe's cheetah population has plummeted from 1,200 to a maximum of 170 animals in just 16 years - representing an astonishing loss of 85% of the country's cheetahs. Scientists are now calling for an urgent paradigm shift in cheetah conservation, towards landscape-level efforts that transcend national borders and are coordinated by existing regional conservation strategies for the species. A holistic conservation approach, which incentivises protection of cheetahs by local communities and trans-national governments, alongside sustainable human-wildlife coexistence is paramount to the survival of the species. Panthera's Cheetah Program Director, Dr. Kim Young-Overton, shared, "We've just hit the reset button in our understanding of how close cheetahs are to extinction. The take-away from this pinnacle study is that securing protected areas alone is not enough. We must think bigger, conserving across the mosaic of protected and unprotected landscapes that these far-ranging cats inhabit, if we are to avert the otherwise certain loss of the cheetah forever." The methodology used for this study will also be relevant to other species, such as African wild dogs, which also require large areas of land to prosper and are therefore similarly vulnerable to increasing threats outside designated protected areas. Learn more about the Rangewide Conservation Programme for Cheetah and African Wild Dogs @ http://cheetahandwilddog. Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity whose mission is to promote and achieve the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. Our mission is realised through our ground-breaking science, our active conservation projects in more than 50 countries and our two Zoos, ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. For more information visit http://www. Panthera, founded in 2006, is devoted exclusively to preserving wild cats and their critical role in the world's ecosystems. Panthera's team of leading biologists, law enforcement experts and wild cat advocates develop innovative strategies based on the best available science to protect cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards and tigers and their vast landscapes. In 50 countries around the world, Panthera works with a wide variety of stakeholders to reduce or eliminate the most pressing threats to wild cats -- securing their future, and ours. Visit panthera.org WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in nearly 60 nations and in all the world's oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit newsroom.wcs.org


Published in Biological Conservation, the study shows that populations of the African lion and its prey species are drastically below their natural potential inside most of Africa's protected areas (PA). In recent years, lion numbers have declined steeply. Some estimates suggest as few as 20,000 wild lions remain in all of Africa, compared to 30,000 that existed just two decades ago. Yet, the study indicates that with sufficient global support for African conservation efforts, the continent's protected areas could support as many as 83,000 free-ranging lions. Panthera Research Associate and Wildlife Conservation Network Conservation Initiatives Director, Dr. Peter Lindsey, shared, "Africa's incredible protected areas hold the key to securing the future of lions and several other wildlife species, and can yield significant benefits for people. African governments have set aside enough space to conserve lions effectively - we just need to find ways to enable those areas to be funded sufficiently and managed effectively. While a diverse set of approaches are needed to achieve lion conservation, it is clear that investing in improved management of PAs has particular potential to boost the conservation prospects for lions." Lindsey continued, "Encouragingly, there are more than just biological reasons for investing in PAs. Well-funded protected areas, and especially those with lions, can play a critical role in developing tourism industries whose revenues can help to grow and diversify economies and create jobs. In addition, protected areas also play essential roles in providing ecosystem services, such as watershed protection. By investing sufficiently in Africa's protected area network, the global community has the opportunity to halt and reverse the decline in lion numbers." The study found that less than one third of the 175 parks and reserves examined are currently conserving lions at more than 50% of their 'carrying capacity' - an ecological term for the natural population levels animals reach if human threats are minimal. Parks were in slightly better shape for lion prey, with around 45% of surveyed protected areas conserving herbivores at over 50% of their carrying capacity. The illegal bushmeat trade stands out as the most severe and prevalent threat facing lions and many other wildlife species in Africa's protected areas. Following closely behind are a multitude of threats, including human-lion conflict, encroachment of PAs by humans and livestock and in some cases, the emerging threat of direct poaching of lions for the illegal wildlife trade. Panthera and partner scientists found that adequate management budgets and management capacity are essential pre-requisites for successfully conserving lions in PAs, as they permit effective law enforcement and other critical conservation initiatives. Those protected areas dedicating the use of their land primarily for photo-tourism operations are also associated with the greatest success in conserving lions and their prey. Today, sub-Saharan Africa's tourism industry, supported by dozens of parks and reserves, is valued at $25 billion dollars, compared to the $20 billion a year illegal wildlife trade that is increasingly targeting Africa's big cats and wildlife for their precious parts. Panthera also recognizes the importance of making sure that local people have a stake in and stand to benefit from PAs and big cat conservation. Simply put, managing PAs and protecting wildlife will be cheaper and easier if local people are supportive, and have a stake in the process. Panthera Senior Lion Program Director, Dr. Paul Funston, shared, "There is just no replacement for large protected areas that invest adequately in management and protection of their lions. Very few areas in Africa meet these needs, and those that do are pure gold for lions. They are places where tourists can see lions really being lions in all the amazing facets of their behavior, and where lions properly fulfill their ecological role." Funston continued, "Protected areas are at the heart of the formula to save Africa's lions, and to ensure the species lives on, lions and their wild landscapes require nothing short of a wealthy and immediate investment from the global community - everyone from donors in New York City and African nations to international governments, corporations, foundations and NGOs who want to be a part of the solution in saving one of our planet's most remarkable wild animals." While in many ways bleak, the lion's future glimmers with hope. Panthera's President and publication co-author, Dr. Luke Hunter, noted, "Many African nations have allocated truly massive swaths of land as protected parks and reserves. However, for Africa's vast PA network to fulfill its potential for conserving lions and other species, there is an urgent need to greatly escalate funding and capacity to effectively manage those parks. That will require a renewed commitment, both from African governments and the international community." Explore further: New report confirms almost half of Africa's lions facing extinction More information: P.A. Lindsey et al, The performance of African protected areas for lions and their prey, Biological Conservation (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2017.01.011


OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 23, 2017) - The Canadian Museum of Nature, Canada's national museum of natural history and natural sciences, announced today its largest-ever philanthropic gift - a $4 million investment from the Ross Beaty family in Vancouver, which will enhance the museum's national research and collections efforts focussed on species discovery. The $4 million gift will support three key initiatives which are core to what will be known as the museum's Beaty Centre for Species Discovery. This Centre of Excellence, which draws on the museum's national collections and the expertise of its scientific staff, is dedicated to creating, advancing and sharing knowledge about the discovery, naming, evolution, ecology and classification of species, both in the past and the present. The Beaty investment will support: All will be based at the museum's national research and collections facility, the Natural Heritage Campus, in Gatineau, Quebec. "The Beaty family's extraordinary generosity is a tremendous endorsement of the Canadian Museum of Nature's legacy in natural history research, collections management and public outreach about the natural world," says Meg Beckel, the museum's President and CEO. "We hope this transformational gift will inspire others to support the work of the museum, as we expand the museum's ability to share its knowledge worldwide, to mentor future scientists and to inspire understanding, respect and appreciation of the natural world for a better natural future." The gift was announced at an event in the presence of Ross and Trisha Beaty, who reside in Vancouver. Mr. Beaty is a geologist and resource entrepreneur, and his wife Trisha Beaty is a physician. Their passion for nature and the environment impelled them to support the museum's mission. "I'm always reminded that less than one percent of human philanthropy goes to nature and the environment. Yet our one species is having such a heavy footprint on the other millions of species that don't have voices. So I'm most pleased to lend my support to the museum and its research expertise," says Ross Beaty, whose philanthropy also led to the creation of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum on the campus of the University of British Columbia. "My hope is that this investment will help promote the Canadian Museum of Nature as a great Canadian biodiversity research institution and enhance its reputation as a great national natural history museum." "The Canadian Museum of Nature plays a vital role in preserving Canada's resources, educating Canadians and inspiring innovation. This donation will enable the museum to further protect and promote our unique natural heritage and diversity, allowing for a meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future. As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, we encourage Canadians across the country to visit museums, learn from them and reconnect with their history and culture," says the the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. Two million dollars from the $4 million gift will fund the creation of a national cryogenic facility, which will include an examination room, and large, super-cooled vats filled with liquid nitrogen to house tissue samples and genetic material. The material to be stored will come from the museum's research activities, and from donations by other government and university institutions across Canada, and abroad. Another $1 million will support the digitization and high-resolution imaging of the museum's collections of about 350,000 Arctic specimens. These include some of the best examples in the world of plants, animals, fossils and minerals from this region. The free digital data will ensure this evidence of the Arctic's natural history is available globally to researchers, students, historians, policy makers and educators. A further $1 million will create the Beaty Post-Doctoral Fellowship for Species Discovery. Endowed through the Community Foundation of Ottawa, the fellowship will fund a post-doctoral scientist every two years to investigate species at risk. The scientist's role will also include public outreach about species loss, species at risk and the importance of conservation to species preservation. The fellowship is slated to begin in spring 2018. At the announcement, the museum honoured the Beaty donation with a personal gift to the family. Museum entomologist Dr. Bob Anderson, an expert on the group of beetles known as weevils, revealed a species new to science, which he has named Sicoderus beatyi in the family's honour. About the Canadian Museum of Nature The Canadian Museum of Nature is Canada's national museum of natural history and natural sciences. The museum provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences and meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future. It achieves this through scientific research, a 14.6 million specimen collection, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site, nature.ca. The museum is a founding member of the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada and COSEWIC (the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada), and collaborates with national and international partners to share knowledge about the natural world. About Ross Beaty and the Beaty Family Ross and Trisha Beaty's philanthropic efforts are centred through their Sitka Foundation, which supports organizations that advance land and nature conservation, invests in community environmental projects and groups globally, and provides leadership in environmental stewardship and education. Ross Beaty is a geologist and resource entrepreneur with over 45 years of experience in the international minerals and renewable energy industries. A graduate of the University of British Columbia in geology and law, and Imperial College in geology, Mr Beaty is an internationally recognized leader in both non-renewable and renewable resource development. He has founded and divested a number of companies and remains founder and Chairman of Pan American Silver Corp., one of the world's leading silver producers, and founder and Chairman of Alterra Power Corp., a mid-sized renewable energy company with solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal power operations in B.C., Texas, Indiana and Iceland. Mr. Beaty is also a well-known environmental philanthropist, primarily through The Sitka Foundation. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Nature Trust of BC, is a Director of The Pacific Salmon Foundation, a Director of Panthera, and is patron of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC. He and his wife Trisha, who is a physician, have a son and four daughters.


"Mesoamerica has one of the highest deforestation rates worldwide, potentially limiting movement and genetic connectivity in forest-dependent jaguars across this fragmented landscape. Large-scale conservation genetics studies on wild jaguars spanning across several range countries assessing these threats are rare and suffer from low sample sizes for this region," said Claudia Wultsch, the lead author of the paper, a scientist in the Museum's Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, and a conservation research fellow at Panthera. "Over the last 100 years, jaguars in Mesoamerica have been pushed out from more than 77 percent of their historic range." To get a better idea of the genetic health and connectivity of jaguar populations in this area and the effectiveness of the existing wildlife corridors (i.e., stretches of habitat that facilitate movement between local populations), the researchers turned to DNA obtained from field-collected jaguar scat. This non-invasive technique lets researchers gather large DNA sample sizes of difficult-to-study wildlife species, such as big cats, without physically capturing, handling, or disturbing the animals. Since these samples quickly degrade in the warm and humid conditions of the tropical countries, however, a great deal of laboratory work has to be done to successfully analyze the DNA. "We believe that these jaguars were once continuously distributed over the whole landscape of Mesoamerica, but human activity has resulted in smaller populations that are isolated from other groups," said George Amato, director of the Museum's Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics and the paper's senior author. "We want to know whether this fragmentation is resulting in reduced gene flow or inbreeding or other things that might be detrimental to the animals. But most importantly, we want to figure out ways to reconnect these populations or, even if they're not completely isolated, to engage in activities that allow jaguars to move more freely across the landscape. One of the only ways to do this is through genetic analysis." The researchers analyzed DNA from 115 individual jaguars spread across five Mesoamerican countries. Overall, they found moderate levels of genetic variation in the jaguars, with the lowest diversity in Mexico, followed by Honduras. Low levels of genetic diversity could decrease reproductive fitness and resistance to disease, and generally lower animals' potential to adapt to a changing environment. When assessing genetic connectivity in Mesoamerican jaguars, the scientists found low levels of gene flow between jaguars in the Selva Maya—the largest contiguous tropical forest north of the Amazon, spreading over northern Guatemala, central Belize, and southern Mexico—and those in Honduras. This suggests that there is limited jaguar movement between these two areas, which is somewhat surprising since they are so geographically close. Although more data are needed to fill gaps in the study, the authors say that the region connecting these sites faces rapid land-cover changes, which have severely increased over the last two decades, putting remaining stepping-stone habitats for jaguars at further risk. This region represents a conservation priority and the authors recommend continued management and maintenance of jaguar corridors and mitigation of jaguars' main threats (e.g., human-wildlife conflict). "Large-scale conservation strategies such as Panthera's Jaguar Corridor Initiative, which are instrumental to protect broadly distributed species such as jaguars, maintain their connectivity, and by doing so to ensure their long-term survival, need to incorporate genetic monitoring of wild populations to fully understand how these species respond to environmental changes and increasing levels of human impacts," Wultsch said. Explore further: 26 jaguars killed in Panama so far this year More information: Claudia Wultsch et al, Genetic Diversity and Population Structure of Mesoamerican Jaguars (Panthera onca): Implications for Conservation and Management, PLOS ONE (2016). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162377

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