Fairfield University to host "Big Cats Initiative"



Image: Big catFrom lions in Kenya to snow leopards in the Himalaya, the world's felines are quickly disappearing.

Evan Schiller, an esteemed wildlife photographer, will share his moving photos of these endangered big cats when he speaks at a Fairfield University 'global citizenship' event, on Thursday, September 29 at 4 p.m. Schiller will discuss conservation attempts to save these beautiful animals from extinction around the world, an effort called the 'Big Cats Initiative."

Free and open to the public, the event will take place in Gonzaga Auditorium, and is co-sponsored by Fairfield's Program on the Environment and the International Studies Program.

The Big Cats Initiative highlights the global implications of allowing the world's big cats to become extinct. "Tigers, leopards, jaguars and lions are threatened as never before, their numbers are declining quickly," said David Downie, Ph.D., director of Fairfield's Program on the Environment and associate professor of Politics. "The Big Cats Initiative is a global effort by citizens and professional conservationists to address this issue before it is too late."

The National Geographic Society and Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert launched the initiative, 'a comprehensive program that supports on-the-ground conservation projects, education, and economic incentive efforts and a global public-awareness campaign.' Felines in the wild are in trouble, all victims of habitat loss and degradation as well as conflicts with humans, initiative leaders said. For further perspective, consider lions: Since the 1940s, lions numbered an estimated 400,000. Now they may total as few as 20,000, according to the initiative's web site. It hopes to halt lion population declines by the year 2015 and to restore populations to sustainable levels.

The lecture is part of Fairfield's teaching of global citizenship via curriculum and events. Fairfield values graduating students with the tools, confidence, and vision to put their unique gifts to work as successful global citizens for the benefit of their communities and the world.

"As global citizens, we have a responsibility to appreciate and preserve our environment," said Jermain Griffin, associate director of the International Studies Program. "Schiller's exceptional photography and amazing story will inspire students to think globally and act locally."

For more information about Fairfield University, visit fairfield.edu.

For more information on the Big Cats Initiative, see http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/big-cats/.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 20, 2011

Vol. 44, No. 44