The campaign collects funds to support the wild Siberian tigers and Amur leopards living in the border area between Russia and China. In addition, the Korkeasaari zoo does environmental education regarding big cats. Internationally, the common target for protection work done in zoos is to reintroduce populations into the wild.
The Amur leopard, better known as the panther, is one of the world’s most endangered species. There are only some 40 Amur leopards extant in the wild in the border area between Russia and China, so the risk of extinction is great. In addition to poaching, the situation has been caused by diminished territories due to logging and forest fires.
To promote the survival of the Amur leopards a project was initiated to re-introduce the animals gradually back into the wild. Lazovsky Nature Reserve in South-East Russia, where leopards still existed 30 years ago, has been confirmed as the conservation area. Today, the living conditions in the region have improved due to increased populations of prey animals. The building of the facilities for the conservation area will begin in 1-2 years’ time. Both local and international experts participate in the planning, WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), ZSL (Zoological Society of London) and WWF, among others.
The results of long-term conservation work can be increasingly seen in the Russian and Chinese borders. It is expected that the Amur leopard’s population, which is now approximately 30-40, would double in the next 15-20 years. Also desirable is that during that time a separate population of 30 individuals would have become established in the wild.
Different zoos have participated in the conservation work of the Amur leopard, and for instance the Korkeasaari zoo has had Amur leopards since the end of the 1970’s. Animals born in the Korkeasaari zoo have also been sent to other zoos for breeding. In the summer of 2014 The Korkeasaari zoo and the zoo’s ’Night of the Cats’ event was praised in the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA) annual report. ALTA coordinates the funds raised for the conservation projects of the Amur leopards and Amur tigers. Last year 23% of these funds were donated by Finns. Fazer is the single most important supporter of the project.
Protecting the diversity of nature is an important part of Fazer’s corporate responsibility programme. The global production of food is the largest single cause of species and biodiversity loss. Biodiversity underpins the functioning of ecosystems and the services that they provide essential for human wellbeing (Convention on Biological Diversity). It provides us with food security, clean water and air. Climate change, pollution, changing use of land, eutrophication, acidification, deforestation, and overfishing all affects biodiversity.
Fazer is a Finnish family-owned company that operates in eight different countries around the Baltic Sea, one of these countries is Russia. The founder of the company Karl Fazer was a great lover of nature and, above all, an expert in birds. He founded conservation areas for birds in the Åland archipelago and on his estate in the Vyborg County. Fazer’s co-operation with the Korkeasaari zoo began in 1999 with Fazer’s “Save the Panthers” campaign and is still going strong. Fazer’s popular product “Pantteri” (panther) has been produced in Lappeenranta since 1961 and currently some 1.5 million kilos of Pantteri products are produced each year.