Written by Clare Czolgosz, ESLLC 2015-2016
The big cats initiative is working to bring awareness to the fact that big cats around the world including snow leopards, mountain lions, cheetahs and more are on the decline. As destruction of their habitats has increased the populations have dramatically decreased. The big cats initiative has worked in many different areas around the world to help make sure these cats do not go extinct. If these animals were to go extinct there would be a major negative impact on our ecosystems.
The Big Cat Initiative follows a strict three step approach to their cause. First comes the approach followed by protect and communicate. During the approach step looks at maps of the big cat populations and assess how the protection steps are working. During the protection phase this group works to establish conservation projects with the locals who are working to live in peaceful coexistence with these animals. The communication aspect comes in when the Big Cat Initiative works hand in hand with Nat Geo Wild to spread the world to public around the world. They want people to understand the problems losing these cats would cause.
One particular project which I found interesting was one taking place in South Africa. In this particular project Kelly Marewick is a manager for the Endangered Wildlife Trust working to create a habitat where cheetahs can become self sustaining. They are relocating the cheetah population into controlled fenced reserves. Currently their system has not been working and the cheetah population is still on a decline of 5.7% per year. The organization has changed their tactics since the beginning of the project in 2011. Rather than relocation and letting nature take its course from there, the organization has changed the way they are working to a more hands on way of dealing with population decline.
Overall changing the big cat population problem is a slow process and not everything will work the first time. The fact that they are working their best to provide these animals with a environment they will thrive in is what counts. They will eventually find a system that works but each case is different and baby steps are the beginning to making a lasting change.