Nat Geo WILD’s 3rd annual Big Cat Week kicks off December 9th and features five nights of premieres putting the spotlight on the world’s big cats. More than just a top-rated television programming event, Big Cat Week is an extension of the National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative, a long-term commitment to stop the population decline of the world’s big cats.
A few facts that might surprise you:
- Africa’s lion population has declined by more than 90 percent in the last 50 years.
- There are now more tigers living in captivity than in the wild.
- Cheetahs have disappeared from more than 75 percent of their range.
Snow Leopard of Afghanistan
Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT
Afghanistan, one of the most dangerous places on earth, is also home to a population of endangered and elusive snow leopards. These big cats are a species under constant threat from poachers and farmers who fear that the leopards are attacking their livestock. But experts can’t protect them without knowing more about them. Now, Nat Geo WILD joins the WCS and an international team of experts, including big cat tracker Boone Smith, as they set out on a mission in the middle of a war zone: to find, capture and collar a snow leopard, and release it back into the wild. With GPS to track the big cats’ location and WCS camera traps already in place, if successful, the expedition will offer a deeper understanding of the rare and beautiful species.
Native to the Central Asian mountains, the snow leopard is a rare sight, with only about 6,000 left in the wild. They are hunted for their beautiful, warm fur and for their organs, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Photograph by Michael Nichols