The Big Cat Initiative

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    Image via Seethewild.org

    Have you ever considered what the world would be like without cats? As a dog lover, this idea often seems very appealing to me; however, I know that not everyone shares this opinion. In fact, if I set aside my bias opinion of cats and become completely honest with myself, I come to find that a world without cats really isn’t a happy world at all. If cats did not exist, there would be no majestic animal to base an award-winning Broadway show on. There would be no extremely temperamental creature to chase Jerry the Mouse around in an animated cartoon show. Most importantly, dogs would lose a very dear arch nemesis and an even dearer friend. It’s completely obvious that a world without cats is almost unimaginable. So, why are we able to live in a world without big cats like lions and tigers and cheetahs (oh my!)?

    Despite popular belief, this world is quickly approaching us. According to See the Wild, roughly 80% of the 40 wild big cat species are steadily shrinking, and 16 of these species are considered vulnerable, endangered, or in critical proximity to extinction. See the Wild explains that the cause for this steady extinction stems from many different aspects, such as habitat loss, global warming, and human conflict. Out of the many factors leading to big cat extinction, the number one cause is human conflict.

    Conflict between big cats and cattle ranchers is most predominant in many areas of Africa. Cattle are the main source of income for many African villages and are coincidentally the favorite snack of many big cat species. In an attempt to protect their livelihoods, African cattle ranchers have resorted to killing big cats that could potentially become a threat to their herd. Slowly but surely, this method of protection has led to the ultimate demise of big cats in Africa.

    The idea that big cats are becoming extinct simply due to their innate necessity to hunt for prey is a sad and almost unbearable way to see such a beautiful and majestic creature disappear. They should not be punished for something that they were born to do. National Geographic understands the actions of both parties, big cats and humans, and they firmly believe that these two groups can live in peace. In an attempt to restore peace back to Africa, National Geographic has established The Big Cat Initiative.

    The Big Cat Initiative is a formulated plan that strives to meet the needs of both humans and big cats alike. As we speak, conservation projects supported by The Big Cat Initiative are working with the local African villagers to establish a system that protects both cattle and big cats from unwanted extinction. Some of the measures taken have included building enclosures for grazing cattle as well as animal sanctuaries for endangered big cat species. The establishment of these systems are slow but efficient. National Geographic has already begun expecting a steady recovery for many endangered big cat species and a safe upbringing for African cattle.

    As always, this project would not be possible without the support of people like us all over the world. Without our sympathy and support for the issue at hand, The Big Cat Initiative movement would not be possible. National Geographic encourages everyone to thoroughly educate themselves on this issue any way they can. A world without cats wouldn’t be a complete world at all, and big cats should get the same reaction. Start an Uproar, and help save the big cats of the world.

    For more information on how to get involved in The Big Cat Initiative, please visit National Geographic: The Big Cat Initiative.

    Andi Perkins is currently pursuing a degree in Professional Writing at Baylor University. Sic 'Em Bears! When she's not studying, she enjoys writing, drinking Earl Grey Tea, and reading books that take her breath away. She has an incurable case of Wanderlust, so she never turns down the chance to travel to new places. Someday, she wants to be a successful writer living in Europe, where she can waste away the days drinking tea in side street cafes as the words of dead poets and her own dance in her head. Until then, she's just enjoying the little moments of life one day at a time. Follow her moments on Twitter: @andiperkins

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