The theme of this years World Wildlife Day, celebrated on March 3, is very special as it focuses on the big cats. While everyday is a celebration of the big cats here at Purr and Roar it is thrilling to see these magnificent, and in most cases highly endangered, species finally get the much needed attention. A vital part of our natural world and embedded in our history, culture, and imagination there is simply nothing that comes close to the big cats, nothing so magical, beautiful or engaging and, whatever you think you will find it hard not to have some sort of opinion on them. If we would like them to be part of our future, and not a distant memory or just some mention in a history book, we must act swiftly and without hesitation to protect them.
“Big cats: predators under threat” is a long overdue and serious look at the major pressures that various wildcats are facing across the globe.
The most recognizable species on earth faces many threats like habitat loss, prey loss, poaching, hunting, illegal wildlife trade, conflicts with livestock, conflict with humans, climate change and the growing human population. These threats are so pressing that we have already seen drastic declines in species like African lions, tigers and cheetahs just to name a few. The one thing they all have in common is us – no matter where we live each person now decides, by our actions or lack of, what species lives and what species vanishes.
“In an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible, the expanded definition of big cats is being used, which includes not only lion, tiger, leopard and jaguar — the 4 largest wild cats that can roar – but also cheetah, snow leopard, puma, clouded leopard, etc. Over the past century we have been losing big cats, the planet’s most majestic predators, at an alarming rate. World Wildlife Day 2018 gives us the opportunity to raise awareness about their plight and to galvanize support for the many global and national actions that are underway to save these iconic species. Through World Wildlife Day big cats will generate the level of attention they all deserve to be sure they are with us for generations to come.”
The International Big Cats Film Festival is also being held in New York on March 2 and 3 to coincide with World Wildlife Day celebrations and will highlight the Cheetah, Clouded Leopard, Jaguar, Leopard, Lion, Puma, Snow Leopard and Tiger. The finalist list of films are in six categories: Issues and Solutions, Conservation Heroes, People and Big Cats, Science and Behavior, Micro-Movie, and Local Voices. The winners will be revealed at the World Wildlife Day celebration at UN Headquarters in New York City on March 2.
If you can’t be in New York there are many ways to celebrate and show your support by joining an event near you, or participating via social media. There are a whole list of outreach materials available that individuals, countries and organizations can use for free to show support for big cats and help get the message across. The materials are available in different languages and people are encouraged to share them on social media along with facts that are provided in the social media kit with the following hashtags: #WorldWildlifeDay #PredatorsUnderThreat #iProtectBigCats #WWD2018 and #BigCats.
Panthera, the only organization dedicated to the conservation of the worlds 40 wildcat species and their ecosystems, is encouraging everyone to participate by snapping a selfie with the nearest big cat statue, mascot, logo, or other icon and sharing it on social media with the hashtag #IStandWithBigCats.
Wherever you live I hope that you will take the time acknowledge our amazing wild felines and show your support for them on World Wildlife Day and everyday!