We are celebrating the wonders of the wild and all that lives within it this World Wildlife Day. Not only does this day raise awareness, but it also marks a significant anniversary — fifty years of CITES (the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), since its signing on March 3, 1973. From its earliest days, CITES has played a critical role in mitigating the threats to wild cats from unsustainable trade in their body parts. While much remains to be done to break the vicious cycle of poaching and illegal trade in cats and other endangered wildlife, thanks to CITES, international trade in and conservation of wild species are inextricably linked, with decisions guided by science.
Partnerships — this year’s World Wildlife Day theme — have been central to delivering CITES’ mandate to ensure that international trade in endangered species doesn’t threaten their survival. CITES is a testament to the power of partnerships, from the cooperation it requires among its member Parties to its alliances with other biodiversity-related conventions to jointly tackle complex problems.
Indeed, partnerships at all levels are central to environmental progress globally and are at the heart of Panthera’s mission to protect the world’s wild cats and their habitats.
From the Americas to Africa to Asia, our partnerships with governments and local communities, public and private institutions, international and national NGOs, big businesses and small entrepreneurs make our work possible — and thriving. At Panthera, we are committed to a transformational partnership model with a strong focus on capacity building and affecting positive change that goes beyond our presence in time and space.
I want to give a snapshot of just three of these partnerships in diverse locales around the globe. The worldwide wild cat conservation puzzle is complex and these examples are indicative of our impactful and collaborative conservation approach:
No doubt among the most ambitious conservation partnerships ever undertaken, the Jaguar 2030 Conservation Roadmap initiative is a collaboration among the 18 jaguar range states to protect jaguars and their habitats range-wide by preserving connectivity between core populations from northern Mexico to northern Argentina. Panthera collaborates with CITES, CMS, UNDP, UNEP, UNODC, WWF, WCS, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other public and private stakeholders to support range-state governments in implementing the Jaguar 2030 Roadmap. This intergovernmental initiative aims to protect 30 critical jaguar landscapes by 2030, mitigating the threats to jaguars while promoting sustainable development, improving livelihoods, restoring ecosystems, increasing biodiversity, and mitigating climate change.
Since 2017, Panthera has partnered with Senegal’s Department of National Parks (DPN) to protect the Critically Endangered West African lion in Niokolo-Koba National Park, where a small population of the species remains. Together, we conduct anti-poaching patrols, collect wildlife scats and carry out camera trap surveys to monitor the park’s most threatened wildlife. In 2021, we collared lions in the country for the first time, which has already provided us with crucial information that will help us protect this subpopulation. Thanks to our work with Senegal’s DPN, we have doubled the park’s lion population in the last decade.
Malaysian Borneo is a lush, majestic landscape home to orangutans, elephants and five species of small wild cats. In partnership with the Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department and community patrols, we help protect the leopard cat, bay cat, Sunda clouded leopard, marbled cat and Endangered flat-headed cat. These small wild cats face the grave threat of the illegal wildlife trade — an issue that threatens wild cats worldwide, from tigers to leopards. Thanks to our partners, we are ramping up efforts to save the unique wildlife of this island. By protecting wild cats, our patrols protect all wildlife — orangutans, wild pigs and tropical birds alike.
This year’s World Wildlife Day comes as the world grapples with the need for urgent action on biodiversity loss, pollution, deforestation and climate change. These are not distinct crises; they are profoundly and inherently interconnected. Their solutions lie in a collaborative approach that prioritizes the conservation of wild species — the very foundation of nature. This World Wildlife Day, let us all commit to being partners in preserving wildlife — because it sustains us all.
Donate to Panthera to sustain impactful partnerships that protect wild cats and the species with whom they coexist.