Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Millions give to domestic cat charities, at the same time big cats face extinction

3 October, 2014 - 17:04 -- John Burton
Tiger, Puma, Jaguar portraits.

World Land Trust (WLT) is aiming to raise £500,000 for our Big Cat Appeal to make sure that some of the world’s big cats continue to have a home in the wild.

Half a million sounds a lot of money until you realise that the charity Cats Protection, which gives homes and support to domestic cats in the UK, raised nearly £44 million last year.

Lovers of domestic cats give an amazing £50 million a year to charity to rescue, rehome and otherwise protect them. Companion animals are not just a recent phenomenon: they have been part of our lives for most of recorded history. Primitive man trained dogs to herd animals for food and undoubtedly the cat’s excellence as a rodent catcher in grain stores was exploited by the ancient Egyptians.

So, with centuries of domestication and the companionship they bring (50 per cent of people interviewed said that if they were stranded on a desert island they would prefer to be with their pet rather than a human), it isn’t surprising that in 2013 Battersea Dogs and Cats Home raised £22.7 million and Cats Protection raised £43.9 million.

The powerful bond between people and their pets is mutually beneficial as is the relationship between people and the natural world. They go hand in hand. Whether a child is playing with a pet dog or cat, or looking at creepy crawlies under a stone, it is one and the same to me. It is increasingly recognised that the relationship between humans and animals goes far deeper and is more rewarding than even pet owners and nature lovers themselves are aware.

I wish I could raise just one or two percent of the amount raised for pet protection but I do know WLT benefits enormously from people who love both their pets and the natural world. So I am hoping that WLT’s challenge to help the plight of big cats and their catastrophic loss of habitat will be embraced by all.

I urge all pet owners and nature lovers to donate to our Big Cat Appeal during Big Cat Big Match Fortnight (1-15 October 2014). All donations we receive between now and 15 October 2014 will be matched with funds pledged in advance, which means every donation is in effect doubled. All the funds raised will go directly to saving wild species like Bengal Tigers, Jaguars, Clouded Leopards and Asiatic Cheetah, which are hurtling towards extinction.

Big Cat Big Match logo

In reality we need nearer £50 million if we are going to have a real hope of saving the world’s big cats in the wild, but we have to start somewhere – and I would be delighted if animals lovers everywhere would unite to help us.

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