International Collaboration Brings New Hope to Endangered Snow Leopards: The BBC Wildlife Fund is partnering with Whitley Fund for Nature and Nature Conservation Foundation to launch new conservation program across Asia

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

London, England and Bangalore, India (PRWEB) May 26, 2011

The BBC Wildlife Fund (BBCWF) and two leading conservation organizations, Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN) and Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), are teaming up to launch a new program aimed at securing a healthy population of snow leopards across Asia. The BBC Wildlife Fund is providing nearly £60,000 ($90,000 US) over the next two years for conservation in regions critical to the survival of the snow leopard.

Snow leopards are one of the most endangered big cats in the world. They are found across 12 Asian and Eurasian nations from Afghanistan to Bhutan, and experts believe that as few as 3,500 may still exist in the wild. WFN and NCF will focus on China, Mongolia and India—the three countries with the highest concentrations of the species.

Their joint project will focus on empowering local communities in each country to adopt a series of conservation measures, including environmental education, community‐based wildlife monitoring, anti‐poaching programmes, and cross‐collaboration between regional and national government offices. The project will be implemented together with leading national conservationists based at NCF, Shan Shui and Peking University in China, and the Snow Leopard Conservation Fund in Mongolia. The Snow Leopard Trust (SLT), recognized as the global leader in snow leopard conservation, will also participate in the project.

“This is the first large, multi‐country project of its kind for snow leopards,” says Dr. Charudutt Mishra, Trustee of NCF and Science and Conservation Director of the SLT, “and it’s a huge leap forward for the species.” Snow leopards are still relatively new to the conservation scene. The first photograph of a wild snow leopard wasn’t captured until the 1970s, and targeted efforts to protect the cats didn’t begin until the 1980s. Snow leopard conservation has lagged behind big campaigns like those set up for tigers, but Dr. Mishra hopes this project will change all that and says “with WFN, BBC and our other partners, we can finally produce the kind of in‐depth, multifaceted conservation systems necessary to save these cats.”

Georgina Domberger, Director of WFN, believes the project has global impact, one of the factors that gained WFN’s support: “It’s great to say you’re going to protect an endangered species—but what does that mean? We can’t save all of them at once, but we are coming up with a way to protect some of the most important population centres we can, and then we hope to build outwards from there.” WFN is also excited because they, like NCF, view snow leopards as a flagship species able to streamline and lead larger efforts in critical habitats. Domberger says “we all love snow leopards for their beauty and charisma, and since they are at the top of the wildlife pyramid, we know helping them will help the entire ecosystem.”

About NCF, WFN and BBCWF
NCF: Nature Conservation Foundation is one of India’s leading conservation organizations. Working across the country to preserve India’s wildlife, NCF has received the 2006 Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Conservation Biology, a worldwide professional body devoted to advancing science and conservation of the earth’s biodiversity. NCF has become an important advisor to the Government and, in addition to coordinating Project Snow Leopard, a national program for snow leopard conservation across the Indian Himalayas, is represented in the Tiger Task Force, the Elephant Task Force, and the National Wildlife Advisory Board.

WFN: WFN is a UK registered charity working to locate and recognise some of the world’s most dynamic conservation leaders and support projects founded on proven science, community involvement and pragmatism. WFN champions passionate individuals who are committed to creating long‐lasting change and successful conservation results on the ground. Towards this aim and through a rigorous assessment process, WFN identifies effective local conservation leaders with the potential to have a global impact and celebrates them through Whitley Awards, one of the world’s most prestigious conservation prizes. To date, WFN has recognised the work of over 120 conservation leaders in 70 countries. Highlights from 2010’s grant report included the establishment of Peru’s first system of community‐led Marine Protected Areas, creation of a 500,000ha grassland biosphere reserve in Chihuahua, Mexico, and the news that 2007 Whitley Award winner Sandra Bessudo is to become Colombian Minister of Environment.

BBC Wildlife Fund: The Fund was founded by the BBC’s Natural History Unit (NHU) in May 2007. Following years of producing outstanding films about wildlife throughout the world and at the same time witnessing alarming declines in the populations of many of the animals filmed, the NHU wanted to address the plight of wildlife. The BBCWF was formed and its first live appeal programme, Saving Planet Earth, raised £1 million on the night. This was added to by donations throughout the year, raising a total of just under £2 million.

The BBC Wildlife Fund supports conservation action throughout the world. The BBC Wildlife Fund disburses donations through an open application grant process to programmes which have a track record of saving species. Grants are made to UK‐registered charities, broadly allocating 20 per cent of donations to projects conserving wildlife in the UK and 80 per cent of donations to projects outside the UK.

The BBC Wildlife Fund is a grant‐making charity, registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales, number 1119286, and is constituted as a company limited by guarantee, registered number 6238115.