World Wildlife Day, March 3 — Big Cats: Predators Under Threat

Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013, World Wildlife Day has now become the most important global annual event dedicated to wildlife.  This year, conservation organizations are celebrating WWD under the theme “Big cats: predators under threat”, using an expanded definition of big cats: not only lion, tiger, leopard and jaguar — the 4 largest wild cats that can roar – but also cheetah, snow leopard, puma, clouded leopard, and more.  Here are some of the great photos from National Geographic’s library of several big cat species.

Leopards, Snow Leopards and Clouded Leopards

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Jaguars & Pumas

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Cheetahs & Tigers

Big cats are among the most widely recognized and admired animals on the planet. But these charismatic predators are facing many and varied threats, mostly caused by human activities. Overall, big cat populations are declining at staggering rate due to loss of habitat and prey they depend on, poaching, illegal trade, and direct conflicts with human settlements.   Tiger populations plummeted by 95% over the past 100 years.

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Lions

African lion populations dropped by 40% in just 20 years, and while they once roamed across Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, they have now vanished completely except in 8 African countries. But a range of measures are underway to arrest this decline.  Watch these videos (here, and here) documenting two National Geographic-sponsored efforts to save big cats, and visit National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative web site to find out more about our efforts and how you can help.  Learn about direct actions you can take from World Wildlife Day’s Get Involved web site.

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Big cat species are found in Africa, Asia, and North, Central and South America, representing a virtually global distribution.  World Wildlife Day 2018 aims to raise awareness about their plight and to encourage you to support the many global and national actions that are underway to save these iconic species.  World Wildlife Day can generate attention big cats all deserve to ensure they are with us for generations to come.

(some text adapted from worldwildlifeday.org and panthera.org)

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Rolf recently joined National Geographic Society's Digital department, as Photo Editor/Digital. His career has been mostly in commercial photo art directing and re-focusing his work into conservation is fulfillment of a longtime goal.