SPOT: Save & Protect Our Treasures

So since I am back at blogging I thought I start up the MCM again and again I am going the animal way. This time the Cause of the Month is SPOT.

Why a foundation for wild cats?

At the end of 2006/beginning of 2007 the number of wild cat species was set on 36. Many of them are endangered and of those a lot are threatened with extinction.

Some figures

  • Cheetah: less than 10,000.
  • Snow leopards: estimated 6,500.
  • Lion: estimated 32,000.
  • Fishing cat: less than 10,000.
  • Tiger: less than 3,500.

In the Netherlands there was no NGO specifically aiming at the protection of wild cats. This led to the start of Foundation SPOTS in 2004.

It is impossible to actually do something for all 36 species. Hence the focus of Foundation SPOTS currently lies in the protection of the cheetah, the lion and the leopard. But, through our Dutch website we are also giving a lot of education about all cat species and we name projects that are busy protecting those specific felids. In this way we hope to put the spots on all cats worldwide.

What are the objectives of Foundation SPOTS?

Many wild felids are threatened with extinction. Foundation SPOTS focuses on protecting these felids. SPOTS is active in the Netherlands and does not have own felid projects. She supports local partners in fe Africa and Iran. SPOTS operates in the Netherlands – major goals of SPOTS are educating, creating a network for several cat projects and raise funds for our supported projects in Africa and Iran. Read here which projects are supported by SPOTS.

Our vision
Many wild cat species live outside protected areas such as National Parks. They thus come into conflict with humans, who often kill predators pre-emptive. Although there are National Parks or Reserves where these animals are protected, SPOTS believes that predators should not only to be tolerated in National Parks but outside these protected areas as well. Otherwise, animals will be closed in and are no longer able to migrate, which makes them very vulnerable. This is reinforced by the fact that in a closed area it is difficult to keep a good population of genes, which is important for a healthy animal population. It makes the animals also vulnerable because there could be lack of food if there are too many animals in the same area. This means that National Parks and Reserves always need to be regulated by humans. If the fences are not maintained, there is an immediate problem with outbreaking animals on farmers land.

Corridors, linking parks and reserves, are important. But we also hope that nature outside these areas, can survive. Very much needed cause like said, many predators like cheetahs and leopards live outside protected areas and there will always be outbreaking animals.

Practical solutions, small organizations
This is easy said but the people outside these national parks, often experience the disadvantage of predators on their land. Therefore SPOTS believes we need to help local communities. Therefore we support organizations that are in direct contact with the local communities and who come up with practical solutions. It is one thing to want local people to accept predators on their land. But let’s be real: these people also suffer due to predators and think of them often as a nuisance, because they prey on their cattle which provide their income. So, the organizations supported by SPOTS help the population effectively. For example: our supported lion project builds corrals (see picture) for the farmers. This allows the cattle to be locked in in the evening, making them less likely to fall prey to lions roaming free. Our supported cheetah projects Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia (CCF) and Cheetah Conservation Botswana (CCB) place special trained dogs (see picture 4) to chase predators like cheetahs away from cattle. This increases the acceptance limit of farmers to accept lions and cheetahs on their land. Education is also a key pillar for all of our supported projects. Education focuses on the farmers but also the youth. They are the future of tomorrow.

SPOTS is not supporting breeding programmes or shelters for wild animals. We do believe that we should protect the animals in the wild itself. And although some projects we support, do give shelter to (orphaned) animals, this is not our focus point. Again, we believe we should be aiming at wild populations. All money and awareness should be focused on this topic.

Responsible volunteering and tourism
Another major target for SPOTS in the Netherlands is educating people about “petting” tourism or volunteering. There are a lot of organizations in Southern Africa where you can pet a small animal as volunteer or tourist. Although we do believe that ambassador animals can be of value cause they can inspire people, we don’t believe in a breeding programme which enables a programme to always have young animals to pet with. This has nothing to do with nature conservation and in fact, it may in fact support the canned hunting industry.

We also do not believe in walking with lions – we believe the focus should be on lions in the wild and not in breeding lions letting them interact with people first to let them “go wild” again later on. We fully support the IUCN Cat Specialist Group who is also rejecting these kinds of excursions. For their article, click here. Foundation SPOTS therefore is very active in the Netherlands to warn people for these kind of excursions and volunteering places.

SPOT as you can see might be targetting the Dutch audiance but is speaking and working for the big cats in areas where you can find Lions, Cheetahs and Leopards and as you can imagine, they are not walking around in Holland. Therefor I think it deserves a place and your donations regardless of where you are based. Please go to their site and help them help the Lion, Cheetah and Leopard. you can find the Dutch site at http://www.stichtingspots.nl/ and for English you can click the English flag on the top right of the site.

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