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UN chief urges protecting big cats on World Wildlife Day

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged people around the world to contribute to protecting big cats whose populations are declining at a disturbing rate due to loss of habitat and prey, conflicts with people, poaching and illegal trade.

 "On World Wildlife Day, I call on people around the world to help raise awareness and to take personal action to help ensure the survival of the world’s big cats and all its precious and fragile biological diversity." Guterres said.

The 2018 World Wildlife Day on March 3 is celebrated under the theme “Big cats: predators under threat".

Big cats are among the most widely recognized and admired animals across the globe. However, today these charismatic predators are facing many and varied threats, which are mostly caused by human activities. Overall, their populations are declining at a disturbing rate due to loss of habitat and prey, conflicts with people, poaching and illegal trade. For example, tiger populations plummeted by 95% over the past 100 years and African lion populations dropped by 40% in just 20 years. But a range of measures are underway to arrest this decline.

In an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible, the expanded definition of big cats is being used, which includes not only lion, tiger, leopard and jaguar -- the 4 largest wild cats that can roar - but also cheetah, snow leopard, puma, clouded leopard, etc. Big cat species are found in Africa, Asia, and North, Central and South America, representing a virtually global distribution.

Over the past century, big cats - the planet’s most majestic predators - are being lost at an alarming rate. World Wildlife Day 2018 gives an opportunity to raise awareness about their plight and to galvanize support for the many global and national actions that are underway to save these iconic species.

The animals and plants that live in the wild have an intrinsic value and contributes to the ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic aspects of human well-being and sustainable development.

World Wildlife Day is an opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and to raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that conservation provides to people. At the same time, the World Wildlife Day reminds of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime and human induced reduction of species, which have wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts. Given these various negative effects, Sustainable Development Goal 15 focuses on halting biodiversity loss.

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