WISN team with Alexander
This quarter, with support from donors like you, we were able to invite Mixteca Indigneous Cultural Practitioner, artist and partner Ernesto to our big cat project development team gathering in Southern France.There we connected him with Paleolithic cave expert, Pascal. This cross cultural exchange focused on the historic spiritual significance of big cats in cultures throughout the world evidenced by newly discovered ancient snow leopard bones and cave painting depictions in the ancient cave sites of Southern France. Ernesto shared ancient knowledge about jaguars as a central sacred species to his people and the current threats jaguars face in Mexico. Pascal explained the history and theories surrounding big cat depictions in Paleolithic caves and their range and presence in ancient Europe. Ernesto plans on sharing details of this exchange and networking with his jaguar conservation partners in Oaxaca, Mexico as they continue to explore and implement cultural methodology in their jaguar conservation programs including educational outreach and jaguar tracking.
Additionally, we met with Alexander, a Krygyz conservationist based in Kyrgyzstan. This conservationist has been working in a region where Snow Leopards were technically extinct. He has been erecting Mazars (places of worship) in the region and has been working with community members to understand the spiritual and ecological significance of Snow Leopards. After 10 years of developing these strategies, miraculously, there are now 23 Snow Leopards reported to be living in the region. Any number more than 14 Snow Leopards is considered a viable population.
These types of meetings and gatherings are vital in order to share knowledge, find how we connect, create support systems and generate new ideas. In this way innovative big cat conservation methods using both cultural and scientific techniques can be created and implemented.
We are grateful for the support in our shared work and we hope to bring Ernesto and Alexander together via Skype or in person to share ideas for conservation of Jaguars and Snow Leopards.
Pascal describing big cat depiction in cave