World Wildlife Day 2018: The role of youth in big cat conservation
Last year the theme of World Wildlife Day was “listen to the young voices,” and this year, with the theme of “big cats: predators under threat,” we’re bringing some young voices to the fore to talk about their experiences in big cat conservation. Tune in on WWD 2018 for a roundtable discussion hosted by Youth for Wildlife Conservation (Y4WC).
Some of the most charismatic wildlife in the world, big cats face a number of threats, from habitat loss, to poaching, to human-animal conflict.
Mingyu Liu, Y4WC
Representing Y4WC at the World Wildlife Day 2018 celebrations at the UN headquarters in New York, Mingyu is a Chinese PhD student at Peking University, majoring in Conservation Biology. His research focuses on the impacts of free-ranging dogs on snow leopards in Tibet. Additionally, he is a consultant at the Shanshui Conservation Center, which gives him the opportunity to participate in snow leopard conservation programs.
Kelly Donithan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona and a Master’s in Conservation Medicine from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. In between her undergraduate and graduate degrees, she worked as an Animal Care Specialist for White Oak Conservation in NE Florida. Following grad school, she was the Wildlife Rescue Program Officer for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and focused largely on the big cat crisis in the U.S. During this time, she collaborated closely with wildlife sanctuaries and law enforcement to orchestrate rescues and seek permanent placement for large carnivores owned illegally or in inappropriate conditions. She also supported IFAW’s legislative efforts to lobby for stronger and widespread laws against private ownership and breeding of big cats. She was also in the 5th class of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL) and worked on a project to reduce the mortality of painted dogs in Zimbabwe due to snares and road collisions. For the past two years, Kelly was a bear manager at the Vietnam Bear Rescue Center in Tam Dao National Park north of Hanoi which provides sanctuary to bears rescued from illegal trafficking and bear bile farms. She has recently moved back to the U.S. and is currently an independent consultant for wildlife conservation and animal welfare organizations.
My name is Kate Vannelli, and I have always loved cats. My first word was ‘cat’, and all of my science class reports growing up were focused on cheetahs. So during University, when I had the opportunity to intern with the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia, I was beyond excited. That internship developed into a three year job, which led to my MSc. at DICE, where I worked with Panthera and the Snow Leopard Conservancy - India Trust. After I finished my MSc., I worked as a field assistant for the Namibia national leopard census, setting up camera traps and looking at the threats facing leopards across Namibia. The more I became involved in the world of big cat conservation, the more I saw the necessity of working with people, and that is the direction I want to take my conservation career.
Soham is a graduate of Zoology and Botany from St. Xavier’s college, Mumbai. He is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Conservation Biology at the University of Kent. Large carnivore ecology and human-wildlife interactions are a topic of special interest to Soham. He is especially interested in big cats and has been working on projects covering Snow Leopards, Tigers and Indian Leopards.
Salina Abraham is an Eritrean-American environmentalist and advocate for community-led action on sustainable landscapes. She is currently the Regional Hub Manager for the Global Landscapes Forum Africa Hub, a Youth4Climate Ambassador at the World Bank and a public policy student at the Harvard Kennedy School. She serves on the Advisory Council to the World Economic Forum’s Trillion Tree platform and the UN FAO’s Forest and Farm Facility. Salina’s academic work explores the impact of corporate social responsibility programs on Eritrea’s rural development, as well as the role of female leadership in economics and finance sectors across Africa. She is the former President of the International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA) and coordinator of the Youth in Landscapes Initiative.
Josephine Crouch, Y4WC
Josephine is a wildlife conservationist with a background in zoology from the United Kingdom. She is interested in investigating the over-exploitation of endangered species. Josephine has experience in monitoring and mapping out trade routes of endangered species caught in the illegal wildlife trade all over the world, as well as in implementing operation logistics for developing conservation efforts on the ground against wildlife trade. She aims to develop innovative solutions, implementing effective policy that bring meaningful change to ongoing conservation challenges.