The world’s great cats face threats from habitat loss, dwindling prey, and conflicts with humans, including poaching and trafficking. Fewer than 3,200 tigers roam the Asian wild in 7 percent of their historic range. A century ago there were 200,000 lions; today only 30,000 are left in Africa. Jaguars, eradicated from 40 percent of their Western Hemisphere range, survive despite the fragmentation and shrinkage of their habitats. Cougars, wiped out from eastern North America, persist in a fraction of their range in the Americas. Only a few thousand elusive snow leopards exist in the wild from Russia to India.
“We have these iconic, majestic animals,” National Geographic’s Russell Howard said, “and we don’t want to talk about them to our children the way we do about dinosaurs.”