The threats to tigers are too great for any single person to solve on his or her own. Scientists from around the world are coming together to combat threats to tigers. Read about how SCBI scientists and staff joined the fight and are leading it with their conservation expertise.
Steve Monfort, Ph.D.
In January 2010, Steven L. Monfort was appointed to the position of director of the newly created Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), established to serve as an umbrella for the Smithsonian's global effort to conserve species and train future generations of conservationists. Headquartered in Front Royal, Virginia, the facility was previously known as the National Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center. SCBI serves as the focal point for the Smithsonian’s efforts to use science-based approaches to conserve species and train future generations of conservationists around the world.
Monfort belongs to the first generation of conservation biologists to have spent their entire careers working within the zoological community. Throughout his career he has used multidisciplinary, collaborative science to save species and habitats and restore animals to the wild. Since 1986, he has served the Smithsonian in many roles, including veterinarian, research scientist, educator, conservationist, and executive-level administrator.
As a scientist, Monfort helped to pioneer noninvasive endocrine monitoring techniques that are now widely used for assessing reproductive status and well-being of wildlife species in zoos and in nature. In 2006, he became the Zoo’s associate director for conservation and science.
As an educator, Monfort worked in close collaboration with George Mason University colleagues to establish the Smithsonian-Mason Semester in Conservation Studies program in 2008. This exciting in-residence program at SCBI immerses undergraduates in an interdisciplinary, conservation learning environment.
As a conservationist, Monfort has helped catalyze and launch a number of important conservation initiatives, including the Sahara Conservation Fund, Conservation Centers for Species Survival, Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, and the Global Tiger Initiative. He serves as the chair of the Asian Wild Horse Species Survival Plan, and as a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s antelope, cervid, and conservation breeding specialists groups.
Monfort received a Bachelor of Arts in biology from the University of California, San Diego, doctor of veterinary medicine (1986) and master’s (1987) degrees from the University of California, Davis, and doctorate in environmental biology and public policy (1993) from George Mason University.
John Seidensticker, Ph.D.
John Seidensticker was raised on a cattle ranch in Montana and studied at the University of Montana and the University of Idaho, where he received the 1998 Distinguished Alumni Silver and Gold Award.
He pioneered the use of radio telemetry to study the mountain lion in North America and wrote his doctoral dissertation on mountain lion social organization in the Idaho Primitive Area. As founding principal investigator of the Smithsonian-Nepal Tiger Ecology Project, he was co-leader of the team that captured and radio-tracked the first wild tigers in Nepal.
He has traveled widely in Asia and served as an ecologist and park planner for the Indonesia World Wildlife Fund Program. He has also conducted fieldwork in the Sundarbans of Bangladesh and India, in Thailand, and in Sri Lanka. He co-authored The Javan Tiger and the Meru-Betiri Reserve: A Plan for Management;Sundarbans Wildlife Management Plan: Conservation in the Bangladesh Coastal Zone; Saving the Tiger; and co-edited Riding the Tiger: Tiger Conservation in Human-dominated Landscapes. Most recently, he is co-author with Susan Lumpkin of the Smithsonian Book of Giant Pandas, and Cats: Smithsonian Answer Book.
As a conservation biologist at the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park, Seidensticker's research efforts have focused on understanding and encouraging landscape patterns and conditions where large mammals can persist, training future conservation leaders, and diffusing environmental understanding through his writing, public appearance, and museum and zoo exhibits.
He has been a member of the IUCN-World Conservation Cat Specialist Group since 1974, a professional fellow of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association since 1989, a member of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Save The Tiger Fund Council since 1995, and its chairman since 1997.
Seidensticker is author or editor of more than 150 articles and books including the widely acclaimed Great Cats, Dangerous Animals, Tigers, and Cats and Wild Cats. His avocations include traveling, walking, gardening, and photography.
Mahendra Shrestha, Ph.D.
Shrestha is the director of SCBI's Tiger Conservation Partnership. Shrestha is a native of eastern Nepal, where he had a 16-year career working for the Nepal Forest Service and the National Park Service. He comes to SCBI from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation where for six years he directed the Save the Tiger Fund. His doctoral research was on the ungulate prey abundance in the landscape along the Himalayan foothills in India and Nepal and its implications for tiger conservation. Shrestha has extensive field experience working on conservation issues in Asia ranging from the management of national parks, community-based conservation, human wildlife conflicts, anti-poaching efforts, to policy formulation. His research and management experiences are now focused on ensuring the conservation of larger forested landscapes in Asia to help sustain viable populations of large mammals such as tigers, elephants, rhinos and other species.
Marshall Jones is senior conservation advisor at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. Though the current focus of his work is on tigers and elephants in Asia, he also helps to foster conservation partnerships between government agencies, NGOs, and universities around the world. A former principal deputy director and COO of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jones lists among his accomplishments the authoring the 1989 U.S. moratorium on the import of elephant ivory. He is a recipient of the Presidential Rank Award, numerous Department of the Interior awards, and a lifetime achievement award from the Wildlife Management Institute. He holds a Bachelor of Science in zoology from the University of Michigan and an M.S. in vertebrate ecology from Murray State University in Kentucky.