Panthera's Snow Leopard Program Executive Director, Dr. Tom McCarthy, was recently honored with the State of Mongolia Friendship Medal for his long-term contribution to wildlife science in Mongolia. The Friendship Medal is the highest award given by the Mongolian government to a non-Mongolian individual for outstanding contributions to the country and its people.
Dr. McCarthy’s work in Mongolia began in 1993 when he was selected by Dr. George Schaller, Panthera’s Vice President, to lead a snow leopard study in the Altai Mountains. As a Ph.D. student, Dr. McCarthy spent the next 6 years studying snow leopards, Gobi brown bears and wild Bactrian camels in and around the Great Gobi National Park. His research into livestock-snow leopard conflicts led to the establishment of Snow Leopard Enterprises, one of the most successful community-based conservation programs for snow leopards. From 2000 – 2009 he led the Snow Leopard Trust’s (SLT) programs in Mongolia, and currently as Panthera’s Executive Director of Snow Leopard Programs, with SLT he is leading the first-ever long-term ecological study of snow leopards in Mongolia’s South Gobi Province.
Speaking of the award Tom stated, “I have just been very fortunate to work alongside some of Mongolia’s most dedicated scientists and conservationists for nearly two decades. It is very humbling to receive this award for doing something I have always considered to be a privilege.”
Read more about Dr. McCarthy’s award.
In case you missed it, read about Panthera and the Snow Leopard Trust’s most recent collaring of the 12th snow leopard for the Mongolia Project.
Learn about Panthera’s Snow Leopard Conservation Program.
Panthera’s team in Costa Rica works hard to mitigate conflicts between ranchers and jaguars. Most recently, Panthera assisted Rafael Monge, a rancher in Boca Tapada, who had lost several head of livestock to jaguars. Our team helped him build a night enclosure to protect his cattle from future jaguar attacks. Using lumber contributed by Mr. Monge, and aluminum sheets and other materials provided by Panthera, Mr. Monge and our Field Scientist Daniel Corrales, Mesoamerica Jaguar Program Coordinator Roberto Salom, Field Technician Ever Urbina, and other Costa Rica staff, helped build a predator-proof enclosure. The team worked for five days, through rain and shine, to produce a sturdy, livestock corral that will help protect Mr. Monge’s cattle, and ultimately his livelihood.
In exchange for Panthera’s help, Mr. Monge has become an ambassador for Panthera and for Costa Rica’s jaguars. Panthera showed Mr. Monge how to use plaster casts to collect the imprints of animal tracks left in the surrounding forests. These data can be used to gain a better understanding of jaguar presence, locations, and interactions with local communities, as well as provide information on jaguar prey and other predators.
Mr. Monge has helped our Costa Rica team obtain tracks, and has allowed camera trapping on his property. We now know, through tracks and photos, that there are jaguars, pumas, ocelots and other wildlife in the area. Mr. Monge has also reported that no attacks have been made on his cattle since the building of his livestock corral!
Learn more about the work Panthera’s team is doing in Costa Rica through the Jaguar Corridor Initiative and read about more of our jaguar conservation work through the Pantanal Jaguar Project. Also visit our Costa Rica Spanish language website at http://pantheracostarica.org/.
Watch this short slideshow to get an inside look at how Panthera’s team constructed Mr. Monge’s livestock enclosure.
See a neat brochure made by our Costa Rica field staff to help ranchers and jaguars peacefully coexist:
This year the Panthera supported Living with Lions program held the first ever Lion Guardian Games – an exciting tournament in which the Lion Guardians, Maasai traditional warriors, - competed in three events, including stick and spear throwing and soccer - a sport with which many of the Guardians are not so familiar. The games tested the skill, accuracy and strength of the competitors, and provided a neutral environment in which to showcase their skills.
The games were held to thank the Guardians for their incredible work during a year plagued by a severe drought which had contributed to an increase in human-lion conflicts, and also to acquaint Lion Guardians working at three separate ranches – Eselenkei, Mbirikani, and Olgulului Group Ranches – to encourage them to work together on lion conservation issues in the future.
The Lion Guardian program transforms traditional lion hunters - Maasai tribesmen and warriors - into lion conservationists by training and employing these warriors to work with their local Maasai communities to reverse negative attitudes about lions and mitigate human-lion conflicts. The Guardians work to help herders track down lost livestock, build proper bomas (or corrals) to protect ranchers’ livestock from lion attacks, and inform their community members where lions are present and areas that should be avoided.
The results are impressive. Since the beginning of the year, the Lion Guardians have stopped over 35 lion hunts! They have also helped reinforce 300 bomas (livestock enclosures) and during the peak of this year’s drought, the Guardians helped herders find over 4,800 of their 5,635 lost livestock (an 85% success rate!), which would have most likely been lost to carnivores if not for the help of the Guardians.
From all of us at Panthera, we want to say “congrats” to all of the contestants of the Lion Guardian Games and “thanks” for your work this past year in helping to protect Africa’s lions.
Watch a video of the Lion Guardians competing in the stick and spear throwing and football games, and celebrating with song and dance! Also see an extraordinary photo gallery of the Lion Guardians competing in the Lion Guardian Games and celebrating with song and dance.
On November 14th, Panthera’s President and CEO, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, will join actress and Panthera Conservation Council member, Jane Alexander, for an exciting discussion on “Jaguars: Americas’ Success Story.” Hosted by New York City’s 92Y, this panel is one of a three-part lecture series entitled “Safari of the Mind,” which will bring together the brightest minds in wild cat conservation to explore the greatest threats facing wild cats today and the conservation strategies that must be enacted to save these species.
Following this lecture on January 9th, Panthera Executive Vice President, Dr. Luke Hunter, and former ABC News Correspondent, Lynn Sherr, will come together to address the future of “The Vanishing Lion.” The third and final lecture, “Saving the Tiger: Already Too Late?” will take place on January 16th, featuring a debate between Panthera’s co-founders, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, and Panthera Chairman, Dr. Thomas Kaplan, on the state of the most endangered wild cat and what is truly needed to bring tigers back from the brink of extinction.
The upcoming lecture, “Jaguars: Americas’ Success Story,” is unfortunately sold out, but you can secure your tickets for the other two lectures now. Visit 92Y and enter PAN3 at checkout to receive a 50% discount on your ticket purchase.
Read more about the Safari of the Mind lecture series and other Panthera events.