WASHINGTON (Sept. 26, 2011)—Africa’s lion population has declined by more than 90 percent in the last 50 years. There are now more tigers living in captivity than in the wild. Cheetahs have disappeared from more than 75 percent of their range in Africa. These top predators are quickly disappearing — victims of conflict with humans and habitat loss or degradation. Because big cats are keystone species in their ecosystems, the loss of these majestic animals also means that the natural balance of entire environments is destroyed. Big cats are in crisis and they need our help.
To address this critical situation, the National Geographic Society and Nat Geo WILD are asking people to “Cause an Uproar” to save big cats. This global outreach and awareness campaign was launched to rally the public around the conservation of the world’s big cats in support of National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative (BCI), a long-term effort to halt the decline of these iconic animals in the wild. BCI supports efforts to save big cats through assessment efforts, on-the-ground conservation projects, education, economic incentive programs and a global public-awareness campaign.
“Public awareness is an important part of the solution,” said Alexander Moen, vice president, National Geographic Explorer Programs. “Outreach efforts target multiple entry points, including the community, schools, online, on-air and on the ground, all with one common goal — to halt the decline of lions, tigers, cheetahs and other big cats worldwide before it is too late. We are at a tipping point, but if we join together, we can stop this crisis in its tracks. We are excited about this campaign and hope to inspire people of all ages to participate.”
In the Community
This fall, kids will join a community of explorers, conservationists and big cat lovers around the world to save these magnificent creatures. Through the new Trick-or-Treat for Big Cats program, Nat Geo WILD and National Geographic Kids are encouraging kids to collect change for BCI, along with their candy, this Halloween. Those who participate are eligible to receive a gift based on the amount of funds collected. Details as well as instructions for big cat costumes, big cat-o-lanterns and receiving free collection boxes can be found at CauseAnUproar.org. Free Trick-or-Treat for Big Cats collection boxes are also available at Pottery Barn Kids stores nationwide, participating schools and National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. National Geographic is the venue of the exhibition “Big Cats, Vanishing Icons,” which celebrates the grandeur and plight of the world’s big cats with over 40 photos on display through April 2012.
As kids team up to save big cats, their teachers are doing the same at a groundbreaking, three-day national educator conference hosted by National Geographic in Washington, D.C., until Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011. Education leaders from 50 U.S. cities are attending workshops and presentations by experts and activists in the big cats field. Educators will receive instructions on free multi-subject and multi-grade materials aligned with “21st-century teaching” and standards across all grade levels. Additionally, National Geographic is introducing Big Cats Clubs, Sister School programs that pair U.S. and African schools, and other activities designed to inform and engage students in meaningful projects related to big cat conservation.
With the click of a mouse, educators, students and big cat lovers around the world can take action at CauseAnUproar.org. This interactive website offers a wealth of images and information to help save big cats and empower people to take action at this crucial time. Games, quizzes and crafts about lions and tigers can also be found on the kids.nationalgeographic.com website. Kids can also create big cat avatars in National Geographic’s virtual world game “Animal Jam,” at animaljam.com. A portion of sales benefits BCI.
In its December 2011 issue (also available as an interactive magazine for iPad), National Geographic magazine will take an in-depth look at the plight of the tiger, including an essay by acclaimed field biologist George B. Schaller on how we can save big cats. The issue will also feature a pull-out gatefold poster highlighting all of the species of cats in crisis. National Geographic Kids magazine will devote a two-page spread in its October issue to a make-your-own-big-cat-costume spread and will continue to regularly feature stories on big cats around the world.
This December, Nat Geo WILD will present the second annual Big Cat Week, beginning Sunday, Dec. 11. The six-night television event will include films that highlight the work of National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert, wildlife naturalist Casey Anderson and expert big cat wrangler Boone Smith.
On the Ground
Focusing on a lion assessment and subsequent cheetah assessment, BCI has mapped all available data on lion and cheetah populations, demographics and habitat. Using that information, National Geographic launched a grant program funding a variety of conservation projects that support education, development and scientific research. Current efforts include livestock protection (which includes construction of predator-proof livestock enclosures), building partnerships with local communities, conservation education, capacity building and outreach campaigns.
For more information, visit www.causeanuproar.org