Big Cats Initiative

Video highlights from Big Cat Week: Top Cats

Learn about National Geographic's Big Cat Initiative.

A FUTURE FOR BIG CATS 

The National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative supports scientists and conservationists working to save big cats in the wild. With your help, we’ve supported more than 100 innovative projects to protect seven iconic big cat species in 27 countries and built more than 1,600 livestock enclosures to protect livestock, big cats, and people. Together we’re helping big cats and communities thrive. Learn more about the initiative.

THE PROBLEM

Big cats worldwide are under threat—for many populations, local extinctions are imminent. Lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, jaguars, and other top felines are victims of habitat loss and degradation as well as conflicts with humans. Losing these majestic predators would create a devastating impact on our ecosystem.


PHOTOGRAPH BY BEVERLY JOUBERT

THE SOLUTION

The Big Cats Initiative, founded in 2009 with National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert, is taking action now to assure big cats in the wild are not gone forever. Partnering with some of the world’s leading big cat experts, the initiative funds on-the-ground research and innovative conservation projects to protect our planet’s top felines and leads a global public awareness campaign to shine light on the issue.


PHOTOGRAPH BY BEVERLY JOUBERT

BIG CATS ARE IN TROUBLE, FROM LIONS IN KENYA TO SNOW LEOPARDS IN THE HIMALAYAS.

  • Africa’s lion population has declined 90 percent in the last 75 years.
  • Cheetahs have disappeared from more than 75 percent of their historic range.
  • Fewer than 4,000 tigers remain in the wild.

LOSING THESE MAJESTIC PREDATORS WOULD CREATE A DEVASTATING IMPACT ON OUR ECOSYSTEM.  

In answer to this pressing problem, the National Geographic Society founded the Big Cats Initiative (BCI) in 2009 with renowned conservationists and filmmakers and National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert. BCI is a long-term effort to halt the decline of big cats in the wild. Partnering with some of the world’s leading big cat experts, we fund on-the-ground research and conservation projects to protect our planet’s top felines. Since its inception, BCI has funded more than 100 field projects in 27 countries, and awarded more than $4 million for field-based big cat conservation efforts.

The Big Cats Initiative takes a three-pronged approach:

1. WE ASSESS

The Big Cats Initiative assesses and maps current populations of big cats worldwide and analyzes the success of measures implemented to help protect them. This knowledge helps guide the on-the-ground protection efforts the Big Cats Initiative chooses to fund.

2. WE PROTECT 

The Big Cats Initiative supports conservation projects designed and implemented by people living in the areas where big cats live. The Big Cats Initiative grantees work in parts of the world where people and wildlife collide, allowing them to foster a sense of peaceful coexistence between big cats and local communities.

3. WE COMMUNICATE

Together with Nat Geo WILD, National Geographic Society and BCI are spreading the word about the decline of big cats through an award-winning awareness campaign, free education initiatives and big cat programming on Nat Geo WILD.

BCI SUPPORTED WORK

  • The implementation of ‘living walls,’ a unique method of combining the use of chain link fencing and fast-growing trees as fence posts to protect livestock and directly decrease the number of lions killed in retaliation for livestock losses.
  • Efforts to train and employ local conflict monitors, anti-poaching patrols and big cat guardians who educate other villagers about big cat ecology and keep track of predator locations in the wild.
  • Snare removal efforts across Kenya and Zambia.
  • Projects testing the efficiency of novel, low-cost livestock protection techniques, such as noisemakers that scare lions and cheetahs away.
  • Training villagers in the most effective livestock husbandry techniques.
  • Interventions to relocate problem animals.
  • Education projects to help local populations understand and embrace the ecological and economic value of preserving lions and other big cats.

Additional information is available at NATGEO.ORG/BIGCATS. 

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