National Geographic Society Newsroom Press Releases

The National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative Transitioning to Great Plains Big Cats Initiative Under Explorers at Large Dereck and Beverly Joubert

The Great Plains Big Cats Initiative will build upon the success of BCI, which awarded more than 150 grants for work in 28 countries to safeguard big cats and their critical habitats.

The National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative (BCI) was founded over a decade ago to halt the decline of big cats in the wild and to raise awareness of the threats big cats were facing. In partnership with National Geographic Explorers at Large and world-renowned conservationists and filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert, BCI has made a substantial impact in big cats conservation. Now, the program they co-founded with the Society will transition to the Great Plains Big Cats Initiative under the Jouberts’ leadership and management. 

Dereck and Beverly have dedicated the past four decades to helping save wildlife and their habitats using their award-winning films and photography to give a voice to iconic wildlife. When they founded the Great Plains Foundation ten years ago it was to secure African landscapes of a scale large enough to also protect wildlife populations. Today, they manage 1.5 million acres of wild landscapes. They have initiated many projects to provide emergency support to some of Africa’s most vulnerable wildlife including Rhinos Without Borders and Project Ranger. Their passion and dedication to protecting big cats is unmatched and they will create a renewed vision for community-based conservation of these majestic creatures. 

The Great Plains Big Cats Initiative will build upon the success of BCI, which awarded more than 150 grants for work in 28 countries, funding on-the-ground research and innovative field-based conservation projects to safeguard big cats and their critical habitats. Since its founding, BCI has helped reduce threats for almost 3,000 big cats in the wild, building 2,000 livestock enclosures helping reduce human-wildlife conflict with big cats, and removing 13,000 life-threatening snares from big cat habitats. National Geographic expanded upon BCI’s global impact by elevating the grantees’ work, sharing the inspiring films and photography created by the Jouberts, and hosting Big Cat Week each year on Nat Geo Wild.

The Society remains committed to protecting big cats and has a renewed focus on supporting wildlife work—including the development of new grant opportunities—for Explorers who are on the frontlines of conservation. To learn more about our Explorers who are working to save threatened wildlife, safeguard ecosystems, and educate and encourage people to coexist more peacefully with local animal populations visit nationalgeographic.org/wildlife. The Great Plains Big Cats Initiative will be soliciting grant applications and continued support for all big cat projects around the globe expanding the scope and scale of this important effort. To learn more about the Great Plains Big Cats Initiative, visit greatplainsfoundation.com

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The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 15,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit www.nationalgeographic.org or follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.