Give Day



Central and South America are home to some of the most beautiful wild cats in the world. You may not even have heard of some of them because they don’t get the same attention as their big “iconic” cousins like lions, tigers, jaguars, cougars, cheetahs. They include seven species: ocelot, margay, jaguarundi, clouded tiger-cat, Geoffroy’s cat, pampas cat, and Atlantic forest tiger-cat.

These diminutive versions of the big cats you know play the same critical role of controlling their prey base populations in their ecosystems that the big guys play in theirs.  When we lose these top predators, the entire ecosystem deteriorates, ruining our world. These cats face major threats to their existence. 

For Give Day 2024 we are asking for your help to keep them from going extinct. We will focus on four incredibly dedicated conservation heroes who are implementing very successful programs designed to reduce or eliminate two of the most serious threats. Our four heroes operate two successful programs in four countries, Mexico (Mariam Weston), Costa Rica (Jose Daniel Ramirez-Fernandez), Brazil (Flavia Tirelli), and Peru (Cindy Hurtado). 

Revenge Killing of Cats. The first threat is human/cat conflict in these rural areas where people depend heavily on raising 10-20 chickens as a critical part of their food supply and their livelihood. If the cats raid the chicken coops and kill chickens, the local farmers naturally view the cats as enemies and kill the cats. In one area surveyed, 90% of the farmers surveyed acknowledged they had killed at least one cat.

To address the revenge killing issue, the heroes’ run programs to supply farmers with the materials to build or repair coops to make them “predator proof.” The farmers are too poor to purchase these materials, but willingly provide the labor for the construction. Camera traps are then used to show the farmers that the cats still come around, but no chickens are stolen. The result goes beyond stopping the revenge killings. The farmers learn about the cats, get to see how beautiful they are, and become invested in helping to conserve them.

Carnivore Distemper from Dogs. The second threat is the enormous population of feral and free roaming dogs. The latter may have a home, but they roam free, versus feral dogs that are wild. What used to be called “canine distemper virus” is now called “carnivore distemper virus” because it has been spreading to the wild cats. It causes a slow, painful death as it gradually disables the animal.

The solution is a very effective program of building trust with the local population to enlist their participation in accepting free vaccination and spay/neuter services from our heroes’ organizations.

Both of these programs in all four countries have been very successful. Both programs can “scale” and be replicated in many more villages. The constraint is funding, both for the predator proof chicken coop materials and the medical supplies and veterinary services to do the vaccinations and spay/neuter services.  Our modest goal is to raise at least $5000 initially for each of these programs and to exceed that goal to provide future additional funding for these and other similar programs. 

Give to Big Cat Rescue

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