New York, NY – Panthera has named conservation executive and wildlife biologist Dr. Frédéric Launay as Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, who has led the global wild cat conservation organization since 2006. Dr. Rabinowitz will assume the new role of Chief Scientist.
Effective November 1, Dr. Launay will join Panthera from the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, a prominent global philanthropy dedicated to species conservation, where he has served as Director General since 2009. The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund supports over 1,200 wildlife conservation projects in as many as 120 countries around the world. Dr. Launay will be based at Panthera’s headquarters in New York.
Thomas Kaplan, Chairman of Panthera’s Board of Directors, stated, “These are incredibly exciting times for Panthera, and we are all thrilled to be able to make this announcement. We know Fred to be a multi-talented, pragmatic, and highly effective environmentalist who has dedicated his life to species conservation. His renown as an energetic thought leader in the space and deep knowledge, built upon a storied career in the field studying some of the world’s most threatened species, will uphold Panthera’s standard of leading with best practices in science to achieve its mission to ensure a future for wild cats and their landscapes.”
Born in France, Dr. Launay began his career in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a wildlife biologist, where he established protected areas and carried out reintroduction programs for the houbara bustard, Arabian oryx, and various species of indigenous gazelles. Pursuing a passion for ornithology, Dr. Launay relocated to the United Arab Emirates to lead the National Avian Research Centre in its study and conservation of the houbara bustard.
“I am proud and humbled to join Panthera’s outstanding team,” said Dr. Launay. “It is a privilege to inherit an organization so well respected for its groundbreaking science and track record of cooperation with a wide variety of stakeholders around the world. I’m looking forward to continuing the momentum that Alan and the entire staff have created and advancing Panthera’s bold objective to save the world’s wild cats.”
Dr. Launay has served as Assistant Secretary General for Science Programs and Senior Advisor of the Secretary General at the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, the government agency overseeing environmental matters in Abu Dhabi Emirate. In 2000, Dr. Launay joined the Emirates Wildlife Society in association with the World Wildlife Fund as its Director, and in 2005, became CEO of Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort, a $400 million re-development project.
Along with his extensive experience in field conservation initiatives based out of Central Asia and the Middle East, Dr. Launay has served as the Chairman of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission (IUCN/SSC) Reintroduction Specialist Group for over 12 years. Since 2007, he has been a member of the IUCN/SSC Steering Committee as well, where Dr. Launay represents the Species Survival Commission on the IUCN World Heritage Site Committee.
Dr. Launay will continue serving as a Board Member and Advisor to the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, which was founded by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, a founding member of Panthera’s Global Alliance. Dr. Launay also serves as a Board Member of the Sahara Conservation Fund and is a fellow of the Zoological Society of London.
A New Role for Dr. Alan Rabinowitz
Dr. Rabinowitz has served as Panthera’s CEO since its founding in 2006. In his new role of Chief Scientist, he will continue to advance discussions with government leaders and conservation investors to prioritize the protection of the large landscapes and corridors crucial to preserving the big cats.
Dr. Rabinowitz stated, “Serving as the leader of Panthera over the past 11 years has truly been the honor of a lifetime. With unprecedented focus, we have begun to change the trajectory for many of the world’s big cats, and I am more confident than ever that we shall be able to accelerate the pace of that change with Fred at the helm. While we know how to save cats—and are doing it in 36 countries—the pressure on these animals has never been greater. I’m looking forward to focusing my energy on being their voice where and when it is needed most—and helping to shape the decisions that will determine their future.”
Dr. Rabinowitz’s extraordinary experiences, which he has recounted in over a dozen books, have inspired a generation. Never one to rest on his laurels, Dr. Rabinowitz this year embarked with Panthera’s Jaguar Program Executive Director Howard Quigley on the Journey of the Jaguar, a three-year, 10-country odyssey to secure the Jaguar Corridor.
Dr. Kaplan continued, “As a founder of Panthera, Alan's commitment and passion have been instrumental in creating the Gold Standard in cat conservation. With Fred's arrival, and as we usher in a new era of leadership at Panthera, on behalf of the entire Board of Directors I thank Alan for his vision, dedication, and tireless pursuit of conservation excellence over his decade's service as Chief Executive Officer. Ever a game-changer, in Alan's new role as Chief Scientist there is no doubt that his enormous impact will continue to be felt throughout the conservation world."
The appointment of Panthera’s new CEO comes just weeks after the launch of the organization’s Conservation Council—a global advisory board comprised of more than 60 public figures providing Panthera with actionable advice and influence to advance Panthera’s message and mission to new audiences and avenues of support.
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 36 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.