This will be an extension of the Big Cats Initiative, a long-term campaign by the National Geographic Society and Nat Geo WILD to stop the poaching of big cats around the world.
Ben Britton said “Could you imagine a world without big cats? Unless we start conserving the wild cats of the world this could become a reality sooner than you think. Big Cat populations around the world are in decline, victims of conflict with humans and habitat loss. Big Cats are keystone species in their ecosystems, the loss of these majestic animals would mean the natural balance of entire ecosystems is destroyed”.
The centrepiece of Big Cat Week is Snow Leopard of Afghanistan, which will take viewers behind the ground-breaking tracking, capture and release of a rare snow leopard by expert big cat wrangler Boone Smith, who achieved what many thought was impossible. Mounting a wildlife conservation expedition in a war zone, Smith and a team from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) must overcome faulty and missing equipment, sudden weather changes, and the threat of Taliban attacks in their quest to find this intelligent, wary, and well-camouflaged creature.
Other featured premieres during Big Cat Week include a coming-of-age tale of a cheetah caring for and training her first litter of cubs and one man’s quest to capture one of the most elusive members of the big cat family, the jaguar on the hunt.
Yet even as these animals remain revered all over the world, they are battling an unforeseen enemy: their own decline. Did you know that Africa’s lion population has declined by more than 90 percent in the last 50 years? That there are now more tigers living in captivity than in the wild? And that cheetahs have disappeared from more than 75 percent of their range?
Big Cat Week is an extension of the Big Cats Initiative, a long-term commitment by the National Geographic Society and Nat Geo WILD to stop poaching, save habitats and sound the call that big steps are needed to save big cats around the world. One year on from Ben Britton teaming up with local big cat trackers in Africa to help rebuild their populations, Australians can tune in to Nat Geo Wild to see how this critical situation has progressed – Visit natgeotv.com.au/big-cats to follow every move made in real-time by Ben Britton’s Big Cats in real time – Matswane the lion and Pitsane the leopard.
“Big Cat Week is an opportunity to raise awareness about the plight of big cats and to highlight the conservation projects being undertaken to save them. Every Australian can get involved by visiting the NGW Big Cat Tracker and see first-hand where these cats are moving, eating and sleeping, live on the NGW website” said Ben Britton.
BEN BRITTON’S BIG CAT WEEK PROGRAMMES INCLUDE:
Ben Britton’s Big Cat Week: The Unlikely Leopard
Sunday March 17 at 7.30pm AEDT – Australian premiere
From award-winning filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert comes the intimate and heart-warming story of Dikeledi, a young male leopard struggling to grow from a clumsy cub into a full-grown big cat.
Ben Britton’s Big Cat Week: Snow Leopard of Afghanistan
Monday March 18 at 7.30pm AEDT – Australian premiere
Expert big cat tracker Boone Smith is on a mission in the middle of a war zone: capture, collar and release one of Afghanistan’s snow leopards to gain a deeper understanding of the rare species.
Ben Britton’s Big Cat Week: Attack Of The Big Cats
Tuesday March 19 at 7.30pm AEDT – Australian premiere
Armed with an arsenal of weapons and strength to back up major attitude, only four wild cats make it into the big cat club: the lion, tiger, leopard and jaguar.
Ben Britton’s Big Cat Week: American Tiger
Wednesday March 20 at 7.30pm AEDT – Australian premiere
With more tigers living in captivity in the United States than in the wild, what effect is the relationship between human and beast having on the wild tiger crisis?
Ben Britton’s Big Cat Week: Cheetah: Fatal Instinct
Thursday March 21 at 7.30pm AEDT – Australian premiere
Before cubs can become feared predators who dominate the African savannah, a mother cheetah must transform them from adorable kittens into powerful hunters.
Ben Britton’s Big Cat Week: Phantom Cat
Friday March 22 at 7.30pm AEDT – Australian premiere
It’s jaguar versus caiman as these two super predators pit their strength and stealth against each other –and wildlife filmmaker Christian Baumeister will do anything and go anywhere to see it first-hand.