In honor of World Lion Day, Nat Geo WILD is shedding light on the decline of big cats worldwide with a full day of big cat programming.
As the king of the jungle, these vital apex predators maintain balance in the circle of animal life but over the last 75 years, Africa’s lion population has declined at an alarming rate of 90%.
With as few as 30,000 lions remaining in the wild, this top predator has become victim of habitat loss, degradation, and poaching and it’s time to make an uproar.
Check out the World Lion Day lineup:
12 p.m. — Lion Battle Zone
Follow the journey into dry season in Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park. As rivers become watering holes and watering holes become dust, the Cape buffalo-whose 2,000 pounds of hooves and horns are more than a match for even the toughest lions-must take increasingly bold risks to satisfy their burning thirst, bringing them into close-range, claw-to-hoof combat with nature’s fiercest predator.
1 p.m. — Lion Gangland
In a remote corner of the Serengeti, the “Vumbi” lion pride battles high heat, shortages of food and water and a dangerous rival coalition in its struggle to survive. It’s a challenging and unforgiving landscape, not only for the lions but also for the photographers bringing their story to light.
Check out this digital extra! Find out how National Geographic photographers and cinematographers capture the most intimate moments between a group of lionesses and their cubs in this behind the scenes look of Lion Gangland:
2 p.m. — The Last Lions
According to The New York Times, The Last Lions is “one of the most urgent and certainly among the most beautifully shot documentaries to hit the big screen in recent memory.” Having just taken top honors at the Jackson Hole Film Festival film, this film now moves to TV to provide viewers a suspense-filled tale of a determined lioness ready to try anything-and willing to risk everything-to keep her family alive.
4 p.m. — Game of Lions
From award-winning filmmakers and National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert comes Game of Lions. According to Dereck Joubert, there are 20,000 lions left on Earth. Only 3,500 of those are males. We follow the journey of the lives of young males in the African bush and their potential to be king. From the birth of a male to his exile from his pride, our cameras follow along as males roam the jungles in an effort to spread their bloodlines through the kingdom.
5 p.m. — Killer Queen
Soon after the summer rains have fallen, lioness Manyari’s pride faces trouble when two nomadic males seek a pride of their own to lead. Sensing trouble, Manyari makes a bid to escape to ensure the survival of her cubs. Constantly looking for food and shelter, and doing her best to stay out of marauders’ lines of sight, this former queen and her cubs make the odyssey to find safety.
6 p.m. — Fight for Life: Lion Pride Takeover
Meet 5-month-old Moja and his fierce lioness mother, Nyota, who survive together without the security of a pack. Living outside pride society means that Nyota and Moja tread a dangerous path. With strength in numbers, the neighboring pack is easily able to take down larger prey, but Nyota must find the power to make a kill by herself.
7 p.m. — Man v. Lion
For wildlife filmmakers, the only way to safely explore the startling African lion is at the end of a mighty long lens–until now. Man v. Lion follows veteran big cat expert Boone Smith across the Nambiti Game Reserve as he tracks three male lions in the open African bush.
The lion love continues. Nat Geo Wild’s resident big cat expert, Boone Smith will be answering questions about these majestic creatures and how we can help them.
Leave your questions for Boone here and check back at 1 p.m. for his answers!
National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative is committed to raising awareness and taking action to save big cats all over the world. Give a high #5forbigcats and donate $5 (or more) to help increase awareness of and promote additional actions on this issue.