The world’s big cats are in the limelight this World Wildlife Day.
“On 3 March we celebrate the United Nation’s International Wildlife Day. The day was proclaimed to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants and is the most important global annual event dedicated to wildlife,” says Deidré Penfold, Executive Director of the Chemical and Allied Associations’ Association (CAIA).
The 2018 theme, Big Cats: predators under threat, uses the expanded definition of big cats to raise awareness on the conservation of the lion, tiger, leopard and jaguar, as well as the cheetah, snow leopard, puma, clouded leopard and related species.
While big cats are among the most widely recognised and admired animals across the globe, they are facing many and varied threats, which are mostly caused by human activities.
Overall, their populations are declining at a disturbing rate due to loss of habitat and prey, conflicts with people, poaching and illegal trade. For example, tiger populations plummeted by 95% over the past 100 years and African lion populations dropped by 40% in just 20 years.
In the words of John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES): “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.”