Big Cats

african-lion-closeupNational Geographic has launched the Big Cat Initiative, an emergency intervention to halt the decline of big cats.

From the site:

About the Big Cats Initiative

From lions in Kenya to snow leopards in the Himalaya, the big cats of the world need help,. Lions, cheetahs, leopards, jaguars, and other top felines are quickly disappearing, all victims of habitat loss and degradation as well as conflicts with humans.

To address this critical situation, the National Geographic Society has launched the Big Cats Initiative, an emergency intervention to halt the alarming decline of big cats combined with longer-term strategies to restore populations. National Geographic is committed to immediately eliminating conflict points between humans and predators. “We no longer have the luxury of time when it comes to big cats,” says National Geographic Explorer–in-Residence Dereck Joubert. “They are in such a downward spiral that if we hesitate now, we will be responsible for extinctions across the globe. If there was ever a time to take action, it is now.”

Receive Big Cats Initiative updates with the Geo-Link Newsletter.

First Step: Halting Decline of Lions

Lions are dying off rapidly across Africa. These cats once ranged across the continent and into Syria, Israel, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, and even northwest India; 2,000 years ago more than a million lions roamed the Earth. Since the 1940s, when lions numbered an estimated 400,000, lion populations have blinked out across the continent. Now they may total as few as 20,000 animals. Scientists connect the drastic decreases in many cases to burgeoning human populations. The Big Cats Initiative aims to halt lion population declines by the year 2015 and to restore populations to sustainable levels.

Join Us: Donate or Apply for a Grant

National Geographic will be collecting all available data on lion populations, demographics, and habitat and will then fund a variety of conservation projects across the lions’ range. You can be part of this important work by donating to the Big Cats Initiative or by applying for a grant to help big cats.

Proposals Encouraged:

  • Innovative projects with quick results for saving lions
  • Anti-poaching programs
  • Projects that test new technology
  • Educational projects focused on community
  • Projects that establish economic incentives for local people to ensure long-term survival of lions

Please email us at with project ideas or questions about the Big Cats Initiative.

Emergency grants, such as the one made in 2008 by National Geographic to the Maasailand Preservation Trust in support of its Predator Compensation Fund (PCF), will be considered. The PCF compensates local Maasai herdsmen for livestock killed by lions in and around Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. In an area where about 20 lions were killed yearly in retaliation, the implementation of the PCF resulted in eighteen months without a single incident.

You can help us make a difference. Your donation can help save a big cat and ensure the Earth is not without these majestic creatures. Please donate today!

You also can sign up for updates from the Big Cats Initiative.

Who’s Involved

The Big Cats Initiative is made up of conservationists led by National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert. Having lived and worked in some of Africa’s most remote areas for more than 25 years as authors and filmmakers, the Jouberts have embraced the cause of wildlife conservation, especially for big cats. They are active conservationists in Botswana, members of the IUCN Lion Working Group, and founding members of the Chobe Wildlife Trust and of Conservation International in Botswana. The Jouberts also work in ecotourism and on building community partnerships.

Partners and Funders Sought

National Geographic will collaborate with local and international NGOs, corporations, local community groups, and individuals to work with saving lions and ensuring the future of this multiyear initiative.

Read more facts about big cats.

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