WLT launched the appeal in 2014 with the aim to raise £500,000. Thanks to the generosity of individual and corporate supporters the target was reached by May 2015, at the end of WLT’s 25th Anniversary year.
Bengal Tigers were the conservation focus in India. Funds from the Big Cat Appeal are supporting Chilkiya Kota Corridor, a traditional wildlife route for tigers between Corbett Tiger Reserve and Ramnagar Forest Division in Uttarakhand, northern India. Securing the corridor is part of WLT’s ongoing commitment to saving a network of wildlife corridors across India in partnership with Wildlife Trust of India.
In northern Argentina, one of the country’s remaining populations of Jaguar will benefit from land purchase and protection of El Pantanoso, a property in the threatened Yungas forest. This is one of WLT’s conservation priorities and more funds are urgently needed. Land purchase is in partnership with Fundación Biodiversidad-Argentina.
In Brazil, Puma were the beneficiaries when funds from the Big Cat Appeal were used to finalise a land purchase in the Matumbo Gap, an unprotected area close to the middle of Três Picos National Park in the Serra dos Órgãos mountains. The area is known to be frequented by Puma and the purchase was made in partnership with Reserva Ecológica de Guapi Assu.
Hopes are that cross border corridors for Caucasian Leopard and Asiatic Cheetah will be able to make progress thanks to funding from the Big Cat Appeal, with discussions currently underway. Funds have been allocated to Iranian Cheetah Society for a research project to identify habitat corridors for the Caucasian Leopard and other large carnivores in Alborz-Talysh, an area that connects populations of these species in southern Azerbaijan and Armenia to the north.
Funds from the appeal have also been allocated to WLT’s Keepers of the Wild programme to support the employment of more wildlife rangers working in reserves sheltering big cats. In Patagonia a Keeper of the Wild monitors La Esperanza Reserve for Puma. In Belize, Honduras, Mexico and other project areas Keepers of the Wild are regularly patrolling Jaguar territory in reserves created with funding from WLT. In Armenia, Keepers of the Wild are essential for the protection of Caucasian Leopards in the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge.
John Burton, WLT Chief Executive, paid tribute to everyone who donated generously to the appeal: “We are delighted to have been able to reach our target for the Big Cat Appeal. While big cats in the wild are struggling to survive the funds that have been donated to WLT projects will at least ensure the safety and long term prospects for big cats in our project areas. It is always a thrill to hear of big cat sightings from our Keepers of the Wild and visitors to the reserves. Thank you to everyone who kickstarted the fundraising by donating during Big Cat Big Match Fortnight in October and to everyone who has helped along the way.”