Maria (Masha) Vorontsova established IFAW’s office in the Russian Federation in 1994, then initiated a campaign which led to a ban on the winter den hunt of hibernating bears. She helped expand the Orphan Bear Cub Rehabilitation Center, which has rescued, rehabilitated and released more than 170 orphan bear cubs back to wild.
Masha has also led campaigns resulting in the ban on the White Sea white coat harp seal hunt and the Sea of Okhotsk beluga hunt, as well as contributing to an increase in penalties for poaching of tigers and several other Red Book of Russia species.
As part of IFAW’s efforts to save the critically endangered western gray whale, Masha’s team helped ensure that off shore oil and gas pipelines were constructed around, rather than through, crucial feeding grounds near Sakhalin Island. They continue to work to prevent the construction of a third oil platform.
Masha has acted as advisor to Russian MPs, working to promote animal welfare on a political level. In Moscow she helped establish an animal clinic and shelter in cooperation with the organization Tess and local authorities, which provides spay/neuter surgery and works to address the homeless dog and cat situation in the city.
A recognized expert, Masha has been a member of the Russian Federation and IFAW delegations to international conferences including CITES, CMS and IWC. She is regularly interviewed by newspapers and magazines, and is filmed or consults on documentaries for major outlets such as Discovery and National Geographic.