All the planning, organizing, phones calls, emails, arm-twisting and finger-crossing worked – we had a great turnout for our Big Cats II event in Manhattan on October 2nd benefiting Panthera. The weather cooperated this year, and while Metro-North did not, our dedicated friends and colleagues pulled out all the stops and made the evening a huge success – raising over $31,000 for the Big Cats. Dr. Luke Hunter, President of Panthera and Andrea Heydlauff, Panthera’s Vice President , joined us in welcoming our friends from Connecticut, Manhattan, Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, Washington DC and California (!) to a wonderful evening at Panthera’s headquarters. Some of our special guests included Alison Nichols, my absolute favorite wildlife and conservation artist http://www.nichollswildlifeart.com, and Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld and Charles Trout, co-founders of the African People & Wildlife Fund whose work focuses on Eastern Africa, particularly in Tanzania in the Maasai Steppe and in/around Tarangire National Park http://afrpw.org.
When I look back at the evening and the days and weeks leading up to Big Cats II, I am forever appreciative of all the people who made the event such a success. Every dollar made a difference. To be honest, some of the dollars that meant the most to me were not necessarily the largest, they were the ones where I know the person was sacrificing to make the contribution – and ironically, these were the dollars that came unsolicited.
Our Auction items were extraordinary and unique. We included two of Evan’s large photographic archival pigment prints on canvas including the “Chobe Lion” and “Tamboti Leopard”, Panthera Media Director, Steve Winter’s chromogenic color print that is the cover shot on his new book coming out in November called “Tigers Forever”, handcrafted jewelry, Alison Nicholl’s original acrylic “Lines of a Lioness”, as well as great rounds of golf at US Open courses and a catered Day Sail on a Morris Yacht. Panthera had also offered two amazing trips – one to the Pantanal to track jaguars and another to the Tetons to track cougars, each to be accompanied by Panthera experts. Unfortunately we did not have any takers on these very big ticket items, though Evan and I were caught drooling over both of these amazing opportunities. If you know of anyone with a keen interest, please let me know and I will put you in touch with the Panthera development team.
At the end of the day I think our friends and family really appreciate our passion for the Big Cats and are willing to take a stand with us on behalf of these amazing creatures. The evening was light, fun, and informative, and I believe the Big Cats message rang true. Luke Hunter spent a few minutes giving the group some background on how Panthera got started and their philosophy. One of the things that really resonates with me is Panthera’s inclusiveness and thoughtfulness. A Panthera board member recently described Panthera as the “venture capitalist” for the Big Cats movement. Panthera is always asking itself what are the best possible investments to be made on behalf of the Big Cats. They have no intention of re-creating the wheel or adding unnecessary bricks and mortar. They stretch their dollars as far as they can out in the field and since their founding in 2006 have conducted over 155 wild cat conservation projects in 59 countries. The organization is fortunate that its budget is funded by Panthera’s co-founder, Tom Kaplan, and the Board, so that all dollars raised can go directly to field projects. Tom is currently featured in Forbes. It is a great article on who Tom is, his passion for wildlife and what he and his wife are doing to make a HUGE difference, especially for the Big Cats (and snakes).
Evan and I offer our most sincere thanks and appreciation for all who participated and donated to our Big Cats II event. We couldn’t have done it without you!