We work on integrated solutions for a complex problem. Our goal is the long-term survival of big cats.

Photograph by Gerry Ellis/Minden Pictures

Picture of an anti-poaching patrol member holding a snare

Reducing Threats to Big Cats

The threats of wire-snare poaching, trophy hunting, and illegal bush-meat trade are destroying populations of lions and other big cats. The Big Cats Initiative grantees combat these threats on the ground in Africa, Asia, and other areas with large populations of big cats under the threat of extinction. Their activities include:

  • team patrols to prevent lion snaring
  • testing lion carcasses for signs of poison
  • anti-poaching team patrols
  • medical treatment for snared lions

Lion Anti-Snaring Team

Wire poaching snares set for the commercial bush-meat trade can frequently injure or kill lions that accidentally set the snares off. The Lion Anti-Snaring Team targets areas of high risk or use by lions and studies snaring patterns. The team tranquilizes snared lions and gives them medical treatment before releasing them. The team’s actions have rescued a large part of the local lion population from serious injury or death.

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Photograph by Jonathan Torgovnik

Picture of warriors

Keeping the Peace

A major cause of big cat decline is retaliatory killing, which occurs when farmers and herders take revenge on big cats for attacking their livestock. In recent years, the big cats’ natural prey species have vanished. Without enough native prey to survive, the big cats turn to livestock—especially unprotected livestock—for food. Big Cats Initiative grantees are working to promote coexistence between local pastoralists and big cats by reducing the amount of human-wildlife conflict with these activities:

  • training local villagers to be conflict officers
  • building and improving protective livestock corrals
  • using tourism as an incentive to raise income and offset livestock losses
  • placing tracking collars on big cats that work as a warning system for villagers
  • using guard dogs to protect livestock herds
  • relocating problem animals from conflict areas

Warrior Watch Program

Warrior Watch is the first program in northern Kenya to actively involve warriors in wildlife conservation. The overall goal of Warrior Watch is to promote human–predator coexistence, reduce human–wildlife conflict, build capacity, and increase awareness of the importance of wildlife to the local area by engaging Samburu men in the process.

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Photograph courtesy Ruaha Carnivore Project

Picture of students in school learning

Community Outreach and Engagement

Relatively few people in farming or herding communities around the world value the presence of carnivore species, but the successful conservation of big cats depends on the cooperation of these communities. Big Cats Initiative grantees help communities gain an increased understanding and appreciation of carnivore species. They also promote the use of sustainable management practices, including nonlethal carnivore control, to facilitate coexistence. Their activities on the ground include:

  • conservation workshops
  • big cat movie nights
  • education and medical care for children and adults

Simba Scholarships

Because primary education is free but secondary education is not, many children in farming and herding communities—whose families often subsist on less than $2 per day—are forced to drop out of school. Simba Scholarships are awarded to children from these communities who show need but also a desire to continue their education.

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See our approach in action.   see all projects

Nat Geo WILD presents a week dedicated to nature’s fiercest felines—big cats—creatures of magnificent strength, ferocity, and beauty that are rapidly facing extinction. With visually stunning and powerful stories from around the world, get closer than ever before to lions, tigers, cheetahs, panthers, and more as you share in their triumphs, defeats, and epic struggles to survive.

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