Big cats have captivated people as far back as history has documented. They have held a prominent place in art and culture and are a symbol of integrity and functionality of ecosystems they live in.

© gregdutoit

On the edge

Despite our fascination with them, the number of big cats in the wild is declining.

Lions currently occupy 10% of their historical range with less than 20,000 left in the wild.

Snow leopards are classified as ‘vulnerable’ with a worldwide population potentially as low as 4,000 individuals.

Jaguars currently occupy 51% of their historic distribution, with a 20% range reduction in just 14 years.

A world without big cats

Lions, snow leopards and jaguars are not just magnificent animals, they are also key to healthy ecosystems, and provide benefits to people and the economy.

In Asia, an estimated 330 million people live within 10 km of rivers originating in the snow leopard habitat, also known as water towers of Asia, which provide a vital source of fresh water.

In Africa, lions and the wildlife tourism industry generate more than 200 million USD every year for Sub-Saharan African countries.

In Latin America, the jaguar range represents 8.6% of the world’s land surface area but supports nearly 28% of the world’s biodiversity and provides over 17% of the world’s carbon storage and sequestration. 

© Lor Sokhoeurn / WWF-Cambodia

A Multitude of Threats

Lions, jaguars, and snow leopards might live in different landscapes but they face similar threats.
 
Their habitat is shrinking due to human led activities, their prey base is depleting, climate change is presenting new challenges, they are poached for illegal trade to meet rising demands for their body parts, and they are increasingly coming into conflict with humans.
 
Conflict arises when people and big cats compete for limited resources. As landscapes change, people and big cats are more likely to cross paths and engage in conflict.
 
This conflict presents equal challenges to people and big cats, leading to a decrease in people’s tolerance for conservation efforts, affecting their livelihoods and wellbeing, and contributing to multiple factors that drive the big cats to extinction.

Benefits for people and big cats

We want big cats and people who share landscapes with them to not just survive but also thrive.

This can only be ensured if efforts to conserve lions, jaguars, and snow leopards, put indigenous communities, and local people, at the center of decision making, and ensure they reap benefits from the conservation of these big cats.

Our work, based on four pathways, brings a people-centric perspective to addressing conflict, moving towards shared well-being for people and big cats.

Reducing the costs of living with big cats

Human wildlife conflict can create a loss of life and property to people living alongside big cats. Reducing conflict will reduce these heavy losses and will ultimately reduce retaliatory killings. 

Increasing the value of living with big cats

Tolerance is a vital aspect of human-big cat coexistence. Our work leverages financial and social benefits for people to increase their tolerance towards lions, jaguars and snow leopards. 

Promoting healthy and connected habitats

Wildlife can only flourish within healthy landscapes and with enough prey to feed on. We aid in better management and connectivity of big cat landscapes in order to create space where they can thrive.

Advocating policy change

We work in partnership with communities, government, businesses, and NGOs, to advocate the need to address human wildlife conflict holistically.

Updates

Alt text

The Lord of My Mountain

Searching for an invisible neighbour in Mongolia
Alt text

Read how the community in Mongolia is helping bridge the knowledge gap

Alt text

THE DIARY OF A SNOW LEOPARD RESEARCHER

Alt text

Read the diary of a snow leopard scientist as he collars a snow leopard in Nepal

WWF logo