We have all heard the craze and popularity that comes from Shark Week but did you know that National Geographic also has a week dedicated completely to the amazing world of big cats? This week long television event is used to bring attention to the decline of big cats everywhere. Disclaimer: This is not to be confused with daytime TV show, Ellen’s Cat Week, which features funny clips and viewers’ endearing obsession with the house cat. In contrast, Nat Geo WILD has a different focus, featuring documentaries and special features dedicated to natures wild populations of Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Pumas and Jaguars, also known as “Big Cats”. These felines are anything but tame, but they do produce some adorable cubs that could potentially claim a week of their own on the Ellen Show (see below for proof).
As part of #BigCatWeek, which begins today, 11/28/14 at 9PM, and lasts until 12/5/14 at 10PM. Nat Geo WILD will feature Boone Smith, a fourth generation Big Cat Tracker, just inches away from lions and their prey in a glass box in the middle of the African safari, as seen in the video above. Here is a quote from Boone’s Reddit feed, submitted hours ago
“I am a fourth generation big cat tracker and wildlife expert who got closer to a pride of African lions than anyone has before as part of Nat Geo WILD’s Big Cat Week, kicking off Friday. I do this to raise awareness about the plight of big cats in our world, whose numbers have decreased by 90% in the last 100 years. My day job is tracking big cats and collaring them for conservation research. I have been around the world tracking snow leopards in Afghanistan, jaguars in Brazil and cougars all over the United States.”
Some are criticizing Nat Geo WILD’s glass box stunt, calling it “sensationalism”, but given the dire need of awareness for the cause, we are tuning in and supporting Big Cat Week and Nat Geo WILD’s efforts. Frankly, not many of us will have the chance to see a lion or tiger in the wild, and maybe this will awaken many to the mighty cause of protecting these species and other endangered big cats.
Nat Geo Wild’s description of the television event on their website is as follows:
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.
On Boone’s Reddit feed, a user asks what the biggest threat is to these big cats, and his answer is human causes. You will need to watch Big Cat Week to find out more, although due to previous interactions with outlier, Sharon Guynup, we know that Tiger farms and poaching are just a few examples of some of the devastating issues many are unaware of. More on her in a moment!
A little history on “Big Cat Week”, which was developed by the Big Cats Initiative, a National Geographic Societies effort to support conservation projects and public awareness. The goal of this campaign is to educate with the end goal of preventing poaching, save the habitat of threatened species, and reverse the factors causing the decreasing population of big cats.
Did you know there are only about 3,000 Tiger’s left in the world? That may sound like a lot, but when you consider this includes zoo tigers, in captivity, this fact shared with us by outlier, Sharon Guynup is startling. Ingredients of Outliers: Woman Game Changer Sharon Guynup is lined up with this cause both working alongside National Geographic and other organizations in spreading awareness. In Guynup’s TEDx talk, we recently covered in a previous post, she touches on the biggest threats to the Tiger population. Guynup, a world renowned environmental journalist and photographer has written on such ambitious subjects ranging from climate change, fracking, the discovery of the SARS virus in bats, the physics of melting glaciers, mercury’s impact on wildlife and humans and more, but the cause of Tigers has become particularly close to her heart in recent years with the increased decline in population.
Faced with this giant issue, and the passion to do something about it, she poured herself into the project, Tigers Forever: Saving the World’s Most Endangered Big Cats with National Geographic Photographer, Steve Winters, which was no small accomplishment (and is 20% off for Black Friday I might add!). Guynup shared with us in a recent interview what inspired her wildlife conservation efforts and how she went from one successful career in photography, to another in environmental journalism. Whether you are a Big Cat enthusiast, journalism or photography student, or just browsing through our site, we highly encourage you to check out our exclusive interview with her, documented in eBook format, titled Ingredients of Outliers: Woman Game Changer Sharon Guynup on Amazon for just $0.99. Our interview with Guynup about her love for big cats and wildlife, and her personal and career journey will also be placed within a larger book called Ingredients of Outliers: Women Game Changers, set to publish in winter 2014-2015.
We would also encourage you to get involved in the cause of saving these endangered species. Below is a list of organizations we found working to protect big cats everywhere.
To tune in to Big Cat Week, watch episodes here: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/wild/big-cat-week/episode-guide/