Discovery has its "Shark Week" and now National Geographic Wild will launch "Big Cat Week."
The programming event is part and parcel of an initiative of the National Geographic Society, the "Big Cat Initiative," structured to raise awareness of the declining population of lions, tigers and other felines.
A highlight of the week will be Big Cat Odyssey, a documentary by Dereck and Beverly Joubert, conservationist-filmmakers who have followed the felines with their cameras for 30 years.
Dereck Joubert told TV critics in Beverly Hills that during his time studying big cats, the African lion population has dropped from 450,000 to 20,000. The number of leopards has gone from 700,000 to 50,000, he added. At that rate those two species will be extinct in 10 to 15 years, without any protection.
A lot of people believe there is no problem, added Beverly Joubert, so coverage in the media is vital to keeping the big cats from extinction. These species are part of an interconnected web, so "apex predators" must be saved to protect an ecosystem.