National Geographic is working to avert the extinction of lions, tigers, and other big cats with the Big Cats Initiative, a comprehensive program that supports innovative projects. Learn how you can help save these animals. Check out their website to take action by learning more and donating.
Photograph by Chris JohnsFiercely protective of their prides, or family units, male lions patrol a vast territory normally covering about 100 square miles (260 square kilometers).
Bengal Tiger and Cub
Photograph by Michael NicholsA mother Bengal tiger and her cub rest in the tall grass of a meadow. Tiger cubs remain with their mothers for two to three years before dispersing to find their own territory.
Cheetah Mother and Cubs
Photograph by Chris JohnsCheetah mothers typically give birth to a litter of three cubs, all of which will stay with her for one and a half to two years before venturing off on their own. When interacting with her cubs, cheetah mothers purr, just like domestic cats.
First Step: Halting Decline of Lions and Cheetahs
Lions are dying off rapidly across Africa. These cats once ranged across the continent and into Syria, Israel, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, and even northwest India; 2,000 years ago more than a million lions roamed the Earth. Since the 1940s, when lions numbered an estimated 400,000, lion populations have blinked out across the continent. Now they may total as few as 20,000 animals. Scientists connect the drastic decreases in many cases to burgeoning human populations. The Big Cats Initiative aims to halt lion population declines by the year 2015 and to restore populations to sustainable levels.