I’m Lisa and the “L” in the LEO acronym. LEO stands for Lisa, Evan (my husband, a professional photographer) and our three rescue cats, Ernest, Emma and Oliver. This blog is about our own rescues, our travels in Africa and the work we are doing to save the world’s Big Cats. I am not a “crazy cat lady”. I am passionate about making a difference. Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” That’s my starting point.
How does a girl from Maine who has lived all her life on the East Coast make it her mission to save the Big Cats? I give my photographer husband, Evan Schiller, huge credit on this front. We have been fortunate to make three safari trips to Africa in the last few years (2009, 2010 and 2012) and would like to return again in 2014. As we became aware of the Big Cats dire situation through the people and animals we met, we felt compelled to speak out and make a difference. During our 2012 visit to Botswana, we stayed at three camps (Zarafa, Selinda and Duba) owned by Great Plains Conservation and Dereck and Beverly Joubert. The Jouberts are National Geographic Explorers in Residence and great filmmakers. They have lived in the African Bush for many years. With the help of National Geographic they founded The Big Cats Initiative. Evan was fortunate to meet the Jouberts during the premier of their movie, The Last Lions, which interestingly, was filmed in Duba. We continue to expand our network of people on the ground in Africa who are making a difference in the lives of the animals and the African people who live amongst them.
As much as I sometimes wish I could turn back the clock and start studying Zoology so that I could become one of these Big Cats researchers that I so admire, I am determined to put my current talents to work on behalf of the Cats. Evan and I have become active fundraisers for Big Cats conservation and research. In 2012 we raised over $30,000 for the Big Cats Initiative and in 2013 raised a similar amount for Panthera, the largest wild cat conservation organization in the world whose mission is to ensure the future of wild cats through scientific leadership and global conservation action.
Evan’s and my passion for saving the Big Cats is really our own metaphor for wanting to save the World. Gandhi’s words continue to inspire our work – “The future depends on what you do today”.