May 13, 2008
I have been in direct contact with Lu Zhi, the director of our partner in China, the Shanshui Center for Nature & Society, and she has shared with me the unfortunate news that the Southwest China hotspot, especially the areas around the panda reserves where we work, is one of the hardest hit areas from the tragic earthquake on Monday. Fortunately, no casualties have been reported among our staff, their families or from our partners.
There have been more than 2,000 aftershocks and close to 20,000 reported dead and much uncertainty on how high the toll will reach. Specifically, we have learned the following about the areas we and our partners are involved in:
The Pingwu, Wanglang, and Wolong Reserve staffs are all safe, including those that are conducting field monitoring.
All 86 pandas in the Wolong Reserve's breeding centers are safe.
Many of the villages surrounding these reserves have suffered extensive damage and casualties are still being reported.
Communications, roads, and relief are starting to get through to rural areas, but the process has been slow.
All other reserves we checked so far have no staff casualties, however most, if not all of their infrastructure are heavily damaged.
With obvious need for support, our colleagues in China have started to collaborate with our partners and local community leaders to assess the best way to help the rural regions where we work. The demand is most urgent for shelter, antibiotics, warm clothing, food, and drinking water. We at CI are in a unique position to help those in need and have thus established an emergency fund, with an initial contribution of $100,000, for support of our conservation partners, the communities in which they work, and their families.
It is highly likely that the region will need extensive long-term financial support (millions of dollars) and additional fundraising dollars will be needed to rebuild conservation efforts and improve the livelihood and well-being of the area's residents. The region and our partners are looking to CI for leadership. If you would like to assist us with this relief effort, please send contributions to CI, noting that the contribution is for the "China Support Effort." You can also make a secure online gift here.
You may also wish to donate to one of the relief funds. You can find information about the various organizations involved in these efforts.
I know that we all share a terrible sadness.
Peter A. Seligmann
Chairman of the Board and CEO