When YPI adopted a black panther as its emblem, it did so with two goals in mind. The first was to highlight the Group’s qualities of strength, intelligence, precision and discretion. The second was to provide us with a link and an image of a world we felt we should be helping protect – a wild, natural and beautiful world that offers as much to human civilisation as the seas and oceans we spend so much of our time promoting.
There are estimated to be just 600 black jaguars alive in the wild today. "When we first heard of the Black Jaguar Foundation," says YPI
Group Head of Marketing and Communications, Mark Duncan
, "we assumed it was an association of people intent purely on protecting the endangered animal with various forms of fund-raising and charitable adoption. What we actually found was a group of people who had decided on a support that is much more far-reaching."
Ben Valks is the Foundation’s initiator. “Nine years ago I sold my business in the Middle East and started to realise a series of non-business dreams. I became interested in the black jaguar, inspired by the work of Dr. Leandro Silveira, president of the Jaguar Conservation Fund in Brazil. That was when I realised just how much of the pristine essential forests of the Cerrado and Amazon has already been deforested. I never realised how much we as a race depend on these forests.”
Ben set up the Black Jaguar Foundation (BJF) to protect and restore the natural habitat of the jaguar. “When we save the home of the endangered and symbolic jaguar, we preserve our own future and the futures of generations to come.”
The BJF works with over 70 partners to help realize the Araguaia Corridor in the heart of Brazil which, at 2,600 km long and 40km wide, is the longest biodiversity corridor on earth. “It is one of South America's largest reforestation projects,” says Ben. “Tens of millions of indigenous trees are and will be reforested with thousands of species benefiting including humans. 10% has already been achieved.”
However the Foundation appreciates how difficult it can be to involve land-owners along the Corridor to donate any of their land to conservation projects when their own livelihoods are at stake. It understands that Governments can not always remain as focused and determined when acting alone.
That is why the BJF is a devoted member of the international Alliance of Araguaia Corridor Partners, headed by the Jaguar Conservation Fund in Brazil.
BJF projects to help realise the Araguaia Corridor include:
Raising awareness for the biodiversity corridor by producing impactful awe-inspiring documentaries about the corridor project, with first time ever footage of the black jaguar in the wild.
Fieldwork to realise the biodiversity corridor by mapping the entire 10,4 million hectare Corridor Zone and identifying the land-owners who will be the key to the Corridor’s success.
- Reforestation Fund to realise the Corridor by advising landowners who join the Corridor Program, which indigenous trees to replant. Secondly, to finance the process of replanting the new born trees.
"Of course it is so easy to write off this and so many other projects as the dreams of a well intentioned, if somewhat naïve, few,” says Mark. “But everyone involved in this project is focused and driven and step by step we want to continue supporting the Foundation by learning more about the Araguaia Corridor and the work that is underway; by looking at the results so far and by establishing what we need to do to help realise this massive conservation project.”
To find out more about the Araguaia Biodiversity Corridor, the Black Jaguar Foundation and how to get involved, go to:
Watch BJF video:
Watch The Araguaia Corridor: