Changing Planet

Google+ Hangout: Get to Know India’s Curious Big Cats

As part of Big Cat Week on Nat Geo Wild, several National Geographic big cat researchers, photographers, and conservationists (including me) are joining together for a live video chat via Google+ Hangout Wednesday, December 3rd at 1 p.m. EST (6 p.m. UTC).

This is your chance to get your questions about these beautiful, fascinating, and highly endangered animals answered by those of us who spend our lives living, working, and thinking about them all the time.

Our Projects in India

One of the most important tools we’re using for research and conservation in India is the camera trap.

Camera traps are commonly used by scientists to identify and assess populations of big cats in the wild. As global pioneers of scientific camera trapping, the Wildlife Conservation Society – India Program has a fabulous collection of tiger and leopard images dating back to 1989.

This rich repository includes more than 6,000 images of 765 individually identified tigers (Pictures 1-2) and more than 7,000 images of 825 individually identified leopards from the Western Ghats (Pictures 3-4). Individual animals are identified based on their unique stripe or rosette patterns using a pattern matching software called Extract Compare.

Cameras allow us to identify individual cats with distinct and interesting patterns (Pictures 5-6) and determining population sizes (Pictures 7-8-9). Apart from this the camera traps often capture fascinating glimpses into cat behavior including lounging, snarling, sniffing, mating, stalking and killing of prey (Pictures 10-18). As with people, some big cats seem to be more curious than others (Pictures 19-21).

My research has determined that over the last hundred years, wild tigers have disappeared from 67 percent of their historic range while leopards have disappeared from 36 percent of their historical range in India. With fewer than 2,000 wild tigers and 10,000 wild leopards left in India, it is imperative that we act now to save these amazing big cats.

How to Participate in the Hangout

You can help us Cause an Uproar for big cats, and get answers to your burning questions about tigers, leopards, other wild felines, and their world by taking part in our Google+ Hangout. Submit your questions by posting a question on Google+ or Twitter using #bigcats or by commenting below.

Join us for the Google+ Hangout Wednesday, December 3rd at 1 p.m. EST (6 p.m. UTC).


Learn More

National Geographic Big Cats Initiative

Wildlife Conservation SocietyIndia Program

Find Out Which Big Cat You Are

Donate, Spread the Word


  • Dipanjan Mitra

    What is the future of the Bengal Tiger in India with the forests vanishing thick and fast and also the fact that the forest cover is around 13-14% currently compared to what it was around 60-70 years ago? How are the conservationists going to fight the ever growing population of India, she being a small country and has over 1.25 billion human beings, which keep breaking into the forests to live? Don’t you think we need to control our population first in order to save the forests and eventually the big cats? Thanks.

  • wildmanju

    Great initiative would love to be part of this

  • franciska leong

    pls save dolphins..penguins,n birds too..tq

  • goki gopal

    Great work by Kirthi

  • jose s merida

    Are zoos any good for big cat conservation? #bigcats

  • Jorge Bohorquez Gonzales

    Soy consumidor de todo lo que publican y la manera de mis posibilidades puedo acceder a obtener la revista. igual agradezco por los envíos que recibo en mi correo electrónico, pero si no es pedir mucho…. me gustaría recibirlos en el idioma español. Gracias.

  • Abhishek Nath

    In case I don’t get a chance to join the hangout, I have a few questions:

    1) On my last visit to Nagarhole and Bandipur in South India, I noticed that Parthenium and Lantana had become prevalent. Are we moving quickly enough to stunt the expansion of these invasive species? Doing a little research I found that the Parthenium Beetle can combat Parthenium yet on asking around it doesn’t look as if we’re using that technique? Apparently tigers have started effectively using Lantana for ambush hunting which I guess is one positive.

    2) There seems to be rapid encroachment by tribals on the Kerala side of Nagarhole. I saw new farms and vast amounts of bamboo being chopped down by the locals in plain sight. This is obviously coming at a cost to the forest ecosystem. What can we do to combat that problem?

    3) I love being around the forest. What is my path of least resistance to be able to live close to the forest while also minimizing my ecological impact and maximizing my potential to spread love and awareness for the importance of the forests and simultaneously protest actions that would seek to destroy it.


  • Anna Clark

    I wish I could save all that excited animals all the cats are the polar bears engagement species even loves I feel sorry for him if the polar bears are dying because of our contribution to the icecaps melting why don’t they threw them carcasses to keep the breed alive before we know it polar bears are going to be gone I would travel anywhere to have any animal I need if I had the resources of anybody wants anybody to go with them I would love to go to help with animals people or anything just to help and do a good deed not asking for anything in return and it would be my pleasure to help any endangered species of any animal they don’t have a voice
    Anna Marie Clark

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