Wildlife Warriors in Action

Fashion has evolved over the centuries to reflect cultural emphasis and interests, reflecting the materials and manufacturing techniques of the time. Today, we have wearable technology and greater access to renewable and sustainable materials—both consumers and designers are keen to embrace ethical fashion that is responsible and innovative. But, despite the movement for ‘Kind Fashion’ much of the world continues to stock and swathe themselves in clothing made from animals—and antiquated practices and cheap production demands continue to support less than ethical treatment of people and animals in the industry.

It’s important to note that some of us buy for function rather than fashion. Outdoor clothing brands are particularly good at aligning performance with ethics as their customers already have a deep love and awareness for nature. Engineering wearables for Winter fashioned from natural fibres like merino wool or technical layers made from recycled materials (plastics and coffee waste are some examples of this). That means the options exist but the people lack awareness which is also a matter for campaign. Rather than fur coats, hoods, boots and the like…adventurers can pack cruelty-free alternatives, many of which can be more efficient at keeping you warm, wicking away sweat, repelling odour and water, dry faster and require less care.

Other factors influence our choices, price point is an obvious one but we are also heavily swayed by branding and celebrity which we identify with. Anything worn by the Royals is sure to sell-out within a day of public exposure, likewise labels for brands that have clear messages or ambassadors also help to represent the values we align ourselves with. Understanding this incentive is key to creating a demand for cruelty-free clothing, for elevating standards in sustainable fabrics and responsible manufacturing methods/means.

Indeed, this is the focus of a new campaign against fur initiated and endorsed by fashion elite. The designers and influencers are stepping-up to end animal cruelty and tip trends toward Kind Fashion.

Guest contributor Elise Burgess from FOUR PAWS Australia explains…

Compassion in vogue: How the ethical fashion movement is extending to animals

The rise in ethical fashion has progressed leaps and bounds over recent years, with fashion-conscious consumers leading the charge towards a future where we can have our smart-cut blazers and feel good about it too.

As part of this ethical fashion trend, major fashion retailers and brands are increasingly recognising their responsibility for the welfare of animals, choosing animal-free materials or making demands about animal welfare for their supply chains.

Last month, major global online retailer ASOS, which has 12.4 million active customers worldwide, announced that it is banning the sale of silk, cashmere and mohair products, having already banned fur and materials from threatened or endangered species.

A decision which is on trend.

Over 890 huge fashion labels including H&M, Michael Kors, Gucci, and Armani have also committed to fur free policies through the Fur Free Retailer global program, not only prioritising animal welfare and consumer demands, but also supporting an end to fur’s image as a ‘luxury’ item. 

But this isn’t the 80’s, I hear you ask, isn’t fur ‘over’ anyway? Shockingly no.

To this day, millions of foxes, minks, rabbits and raccoon dogs are brutally farmed and slaughtered for their fur. 

In fact, the global fur trade sources 95 percent of its fur from animals who are forced to live in small wire cages on fur farms. Animals trapped in these cages are denied any natural environment or the ability to express their instinctive behaviour.

At the end of their short lives, their death—by electrocution, gassing or by having their neck broken—is as cruel as their keeping.

What’s more, some animals used for fur such as foxes, have been selectively bred to produce extreme levels of excess skin and therefore, more fur. As a result, these poor foxes suffer from heavily folded skin, severe eye infections and badly malformed feet.

In April this year, horrific images from a fox farm in Finland showed animals locked in tight cages who could barely move due to all their excess skin. In the wild, polar foxes would normally reach a weight of roughly four kilos but due to deliberate breeding for the largest possible amount of fur, these animals instead reach a weight of up to 20 kilos.

While it may seem like a US or European issue where the winters are far colder, here in Australia you can still find fur being used in fashion. Lots of fur trims are available in our shopping districts on jackets, fur vests, fur accessories for handbags and even on some toys. Which is why in 2018, it is so important for Australians to show their support for fur-free fashion and products.

This can be as simple as not buying fur products or fashion items such as jackets or gloves with fur trim, or better yet, supporting Australian fashion retailers and brands who have committed to being fur free. Not sure if it is FUR or FRIENDLY? Check out the Fur Free Retailer list.

FOUR PAWS Australia is the Australian representative of the global Fur Free retailer program, and after listening to what compassionate Australians are saying, we want to help local brands and consumers be a driving force for global animal protection in fashion.

To find out more about fur in fashion, check out FOUR PAWS Australia.

We can do more together and our power is greatly enhanced by investing in wildlife. Driving innovation, research, and resources requires money in equal measure with support from philanthropists and the public. This creates a wellspring for investing in the future of wildlife. Forming an alliance to serve this goal on a global scale is a smart strategy for wildlife conservation and Panthera are leading the way.

In a move indicative of China’s growing influence as a leader in environmental protection, visionary philanthropist and entrepreneur Madame He Qiaonyu, through her Beijing Qiaonyu Foundation, has joined forces with Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, and WildCRU, Oxford University’s conservation research unit, to protect big cats and their vast landscapes within China and beyond. It is the first international partnership for the Foundation, which envisions establishing the largest collaboration for biodiversity conservation in the world.

Starting with the apex carnivores, Beijing Qiaonyu Foundation will invest $20 million over the next 10 years to fund conservation programs devoted to the protection of big cats both inside China and around the world, focusing on 10 “at-risk” areas to be determined by Beijing Qiaonyu Foundation with Panthera and WildCRU.

The partnership will be announced tomorrow in Monaco in conjunction with a meeting of IUCN’s Patrons of Nature, of which Madame He is a member.

Madame He is Founder and Chairman of Beijing Oriental Landscape and Ecology Co. Ltd., the largest landscape architecture company in China. Since establishing Beijing Qiaonyu Foundation in 2012, Madame He has become a force in Chinese philanthropy, investing in such areas as female entrepreneurship, ecological education, and climate change, and is setting the standard in China for emerging philanthropists.

In 2017, Beijing Qiaonyu Foundation introduced an ambitious vision for nature conservation, unveiling an accelerated seven-year plan to protect 28 critical habitat areas within China and conserve dozens of flagship animal and plant species. The Foundation plans to leverage its investments through high-profile partnerships within China and beyond, adopting and applying best practices to achieve its objectives and developing models for conservation worldwide.

Madame He stated, “I feel fortunate to have met Thomas and to be working with Panthera. This partnership enables us at Qiaonyu Foundation to utilize the most professional and experienced team in cat conservation as we begin to protect and preserve these beautiful but fragile species. It is an extraordinary undertaking, and to achieve the ambitious outcomes we seek, we are going to mobilize all the passion and intelligence we utilized when starting our businesses.”

She continued, “I would also add that there are a large number of entrepreneurs in China who are actively paying attention to environmental issues. They would love to share their wealth, knowledge, and vision to search for more and effective solutions for conserving nature. Qiaonyu Foundation is calling on potential partners in China and indeed across the globe to unite together to protect our only homeland and promise a better future for this planet!”

As the newest member of Panthera’s Global Alliance for Wild Cats, Madame He joins Thomas S. Kaplan and Daphne Recanati Kaplan, His Highness Mohamed Bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Hemendra Kothari—among the world’s leading environmental philanthropists—in an international collaboration to preserve large-scale wildlife habitat and biodiversity around the globe by protecting the big cats.

Panthera Founder and Chairman of the Board Thomas Kaplan stated, “Madame He’s vision for species conservation is big and bold, befitting China’s enormous potential to change the trajectory for threatened big cats at home and around the world. Madame He is herself a force of nature, and I have no doubt that she will galvanize a new homegrown movement to join her in sustaining our planet’s most precious and vulnerable wildlife.”

Dr. Kaplan continued, “We are humbled to be among the first partners aligned with Madame He and the Beijing Qiaonyu Foundation in this game-changing moment and look forward to working together under the auspices of the Global Alliance to realize our shared conservation goals.”

Phase One Will Focus on China’s Snow Leopards and African Lions

With a grant from the Recanati-Kaplan Foundation, in conjunction with Panthera and WildCRU, the Beijing Qiaonyu Foundation will invest US$1 million to build out their comprehensive snow leopard conservation program in China, now in the early stages of development. The program will focus on two pilot sites to be determined, with the goal of expanding over time into the larger geographical range critical for the species’ survival.

Addressing one of the most pressing cat conservation crises globally, Beijing Qiaonyu Foundation will also contribute US$1 million to lion conservation in Africa with a focus on the geographies and populations most at risk. Due primarily to bushmeat poaching and conflict with humans, lion populations have plunged by more than 40% in the past two decades. Today, just 20,000 lions remain, occupying only 8% of their historical range. However, research shows that lions can thrive in large, well-protected landscapes with secure buffer zones, providing hope for the future.

And, in a third component of the partnership, Panthera, WildCRU and Beijing Qiaonyu Foundation will design and implement a joint wildlife management training program for Chinese conservationists working in the newly formed conservation areas in China. The training courses will be tailored for application both in the classroom and in the field.

Dr. Frédéric Launay, who will assume the CEO role at Panthera on November 1, stated, “Panthera is immensely pleased and proud to have the opportunity to work with Madame He and the Beijing Qiaonyu Foundation as partners in large-scale conservation. We see enormous opportunity to share knowledge, as well as to break new ground in creating a world in which humans and wild cats can thrive together.”

The Global Alliance for Wild Cats

The Global Alliance for Wild Cats was formed in 2014 to convene the world’s most visionary conservation thinkers across borders and cultures in a shared commitment to protecting big cats and their ecosystems. The Global Alliance invests in deploying at scale the most effective solutions for mitigating their primary threats: poaching for the illegal wildlife trade, human-cat conflict, loss of prey species, and the loss and fragmentation of habitat.

Her Excellency Razan Khalifa al Mubarak, Managing Director of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and Secretary-General of the Environment Agency–Abu Dhabi, said, “On behalf of His Highness Mohamed bin Zayed, we welcome Madame He to the Global Alliance. How fortunate we are to have such a bright light as Madame He focused on the big cats. Only with such grand vision can we hope to achieve conservation on the scale needed to save them.”

“We are looking forward to working alongside Madame He and the Beijing Qiaonyu Foundation,” said Hemendra Kothari, Founder and Chairman of India’s Wildlife Conservation Trust. “This is truly an extraordinary example of international cooperation. Together, we can hope to recover tigers, snow leopards, lions, and all of the iconic cats upon which the delicate balance of nature depends, particularly forest and water protection and climate change mitigation.”

A New Wave of Chinese Philanthropy

Madame He is pioneering a burgeoning philanthropic movement in China, providing inspiration to a new generation of philanthropists across a broad spectrum of interests, including many focused outside of China for the first time.

She is a founder with Bill Gates, Ray Dalio, Niu Gensheng, and Ye Qingjun of the Chinese Global Philanthropy Institute, an organization dedicated to cultivating the development of philanthropy in China and around the world.


About Panthera 
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.
 
About Beijing Qiaonyu Foundation 
The mission of BQF is to protect the earth and nature, and conserve biodiversity. We aspire to become one of the most influential Nature Conservation Agencies in the world. 
 
About WildCRU 
David Macdonald founded the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) in 1986 at the University of Oxford. Now the foremost University-based centre for biodiversity conservation, the mission of the WildCRU is to achieve practical solutions to conservation problems through original research. WildCRU is particularly renowned for its work with wild carnivores, especially wild cats, including its long-running studies on lion and clouded leopard. Its training centre for early-career conservationists, so far from 32 countries, produces experts and future leaders in global conservation. Visit wildcru.org
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As 2016 draws to a close, we look back over a year of hard work and achievements on behalf of polar bears. Take a minute to celebrate some of what we accomplished together to sustain a future for polar bears and their sea ice home.

It is important to reflect upon victories, as they sustain the energy with which we set goals. This is especially true for our support of conservation research and initiatives, because it is a long-term investment with legacy results. This video from our friends at Polar Bears International celebrates the little victories and the long-term legacy.

Visit Polar Bears International to see what’s possible when we come together for conservation. www.polarbearsinternational.org

Panthera were able to save this snow leopard on Thanksgiving—and with our help, they can save many more.

Peering into the dark corners of a snow-covered corral in a remote village in Tajikistan, I could just make out the snow leopard’s shape, trapped with the bodies of the sheep he had just killed. The devastated herder was moments away from killing the snow leopard—until Panthera stepped in.

Incidents like this one happen every single week, and they’re on the rise. The good news is, predator-proofing corrals eliminates attacks on livestock and retaliatory killings of snow leopards. Panthera have already built 130 of these lifesaving corrals in this region. It costs $2,500 to build one predator-proof corral and our donations help Panthera to purchase the materials like lumber and mesh wiring, and employ local people to do the work.

To support Panthera in saving snow leopards visit: www.panthera.org

In the face of relentless threats, the strategies Panthera pioneered over the past ten years are already making a difference. But when it comes to catching poachers, halting deadly conflict, and preserving crucial habitats for wild cats, the next decade is even more critical.

Join Panthera’s Million Dollar Act for Big Cats Challenge and help them reach their goal by December 31 so they can hit the ground running in 2017.

Give Big Cats a Great Christmas! panthera.org/million-dollar-challenge