My name is Jesús, but this fundraiser is not about me. It's about a cause that interests all of us: wildlife conservation. On 2013 the United Nations proclaimed 3 March as UN World Wildlife Day (WWD) to celebrate and raise awareness of the world's wild animals and plants (visit http://www.wildlifeday.org/ for more information, and https://www.panthera.org/ if you want to know a bit more about big cats, and why their conservation is important). And this year, the theme will be "Big cats: predators under threat". The idea is to let people know about these amazing creatures, and highlight the (sad) fact that, of the 38 felid species assessed by IUCN world-wide, 18 (47%) are in a category of threat, and need our help. So how can you help them? That's where this fundraiser comes in!
When I found out that this year's WWD would focus on big cats (and on the broader term, not only the big four: tigers, lions, jaguars, and leopards), I became extremely excited because I have always loved felids, especially cheetahs. Living away from Africa (or Asia) I haven't been able to actually help in cheetah conservation - but now I had the chance to use WWD to celebrate my passion for the felid Family, by letting people know about these majestic creatures, and maybe pooling resources to help a couple of these big cats. And that is what this fundraising is about: I chose a conservation organization that I have known and followed for quite a few years now, N/a'an ku sê Foundation, as the target of whatever funds this effort manages to collect.
So, why did I choose this Foundation in particular?
I will not bore you with the details, but as I said, I have followed their activities for years. I think I can sum it up in two big things: they have done extensive research into human-carnivore conflict, which is one of the constant threats to big cats all over the world; and they have integrated data from GPS collar research into a Rapid Response Unit to deal with any conflict situation relating a big cat, almost immediately. Sounds impressive? It is! But sadly, being an NGO, N/a'an ku sê constantly needs funding to maintain these (and all of their plentiful other activities) up and running (for more information, visit their amazing site: http://naankuse.com).
I haven't actually been to N/a'an ku sê, but if I could, I definitely would. They show passion and enthusiasm in the noble job that they do, their motto is quite similar to my current institution's (Conservation through innovation), they have so many programs in place (one of which involves volunteering, which looks awesome) and they work in the conservation of many species, three of which are big cats: lions (Panthera leo), leopards (Panthera pardus), and, yes, cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus).
All my life I have wanted to work in species conservation, and even though I have been doing exactly that for the past few years, I still haven't been able to actually help cheetahs. Until now. This is my first real effort to help cheetahs in any way, and not only them but lions and leopards as well, and I'm including you, all of you, in my effort. Because I live in Venezuela I don't really earn much to donate a significant amount on my own; but I know that together we can make a difference! How? Simple! You may be wondering why I set 7000 USD as the goal of this fundraiser; and here are the reasons, according to N/a'an ku sê's experience:
USD 300 could pay for fuel to attend two conflict calls (this could be proactive or reactive engagement with farmers to mitigate conflict, or attend a call for a captured leopard or cheetah.)
USD 4920 could pay for a GPS collar (this would enable a potential problem cheetah or leopard to stay in the wild).
USD 650 could feed a conflict cheetah/leopard for one year (in temporary or permanent captivity).
USD 110 could pay for a camera trap (which are currently needed for lion scat research, to give to farmers to monitor large carnivores on their land, and for research into leopard ecology in Neuras).
USD 8 could pay for an SD card for a camera trap (as above)
USD 2 could pay for batteries for a camera trap (as above)
USD 300 could pay for a laptop to analyze camera trap images and to send daily GPS coordinates to farmers to mitigate conflict.
You add all of those and you get USD 6290. But if I could, I would give higher than that; I was always told to aim higher! With USD 7000 at their disposal they could cover all of these needs immediately, some of them more than once, and then some. Just from us helping out!
Cheetahs, leopards, lions, all big cats, and all wildlife in the world really, need our help. I'm just using this opportunity to reach out to you to help these species in their plight. So do you want to help? Yes!? Great! Donate what you can! You don't have much? Donate 2$! That will put batteries into one of their camera traps. Yes, you read correctly: you can have an impact donating only 2$ (but still, if you can afford to donate more, please do so!). You can't donate right now? No problem, share this with everyone, please! Because one of the things I have learned in my time as a conservation biologist, is the importance of people, and outreach, in any conservation plan. Because even if in many cases human activities are threats for species, it's also human actions that can be the solution.
So if you shared and/or donated, thank you so much. Really. THANK YOU on behalf of this passionate conservationist, and of the animals that YOU have helped save.