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Video and photo gallery: Conservationist Bill Oddie visits Banham Zoo to appeal for donations to save the habitats of big cats

PUBLISHED: 09:18 30 September 2014 | UPDATED: 09:54 30 September 2014

TV presenter, Bill Oddie, visits Banham Zoo to promote Big Cat Big Match conservation fund, aiming to conserve large cats. Bill Oddie with a ring-tailed Lemur as he looks at a book on big cats. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

TV presenter, Bill Oddie, visits Banham Zoo to promote Big Cat Big Match conservation fund, aiming to conserve large cats. Bill Oddie with a ring-tailed Lemur as he looks at a book on big cats. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

copyright: Archant 2014

TV conservationist Bill Oddie visited Banham Zoo yesterday to lend his support to a campaign to save endangered big cats around the world.

TV presenter, Bill Oddie, visits Banham Zoo to promote Big Cat Big Match conservation fund, aiming to conserve large cats. A red ruffed Lemur. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYTV presenter, Bill Oddie, visits Banham Zoo to promote Big Cat Big Match conservation fund, aiming to conserve large cats. A red ruffed Lemur. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The writer, who has presented the wildlife shows Springwatch and Wild In Your Garden, helped to put the spotlight on the World Land Trust’s (WLT) Big Cat Big Match Fortnight, which aims to raise £500,000 to save cats on the brink of extinction in the wild, such as tigers, pumas and jaguars.

The aim of the initiative, which is being held during the first two weeks in October, is to raise £250,000, which is being match funded by the charity’s supporters, bringing the total to £500,000.

Mr Oddie said wild animals were in danger from wars around the world which threatened to destroy their natural habitats and turn them into commodities, adding that tigers were being poached for their skins and bones.

He added in some parts of the world there were more animals in captivity than in the wild.

The most endangered cat species

Snow Leopard – lives in the cold areas of alpine and sub-alpine central Asia.

Fishing Cat – lives along rivers and mangrove swamps in Asia.

Iberian Lynx – critically endangered species living on the Iberian peninsula. As of 2013, there are 309 living in the wild.

Flat-headed cat – species native to Sumatra, Borneo and the Thai-Malay peninsula.

Bornean bay cat – species found only in Borneo. Very little is known about it.

Tiger – the tiger, below, is in danger everywhere through loss of habitat.

Andean Cat – looks like a house cat and is believed to be the tiny version of the snow leopard.

“Part of the benefit of this initiative is a certain reassurance that there are people doing good things instead of doing bad things. Working with and for animals can bring out the best in people,” he said.

He said the money could help to conserve species such as the Caucasion Leopard in Armenia and would be used to extend existing reserves and create wildlife corridors.

Funds will also be used to support WLT’s Keepers of the Wild programme, which supports the employment of wildlife rangers in reserves created with WLT funding.

John Burton, WLT chief executive, said: “After 25 years of conservation success in countries as diverse as Belize, Paraguay and India, we know that WLT’s model of land purchase and protection is making it possible for big cats to survive in the wild in Latin America and Asia.

The vital work of the World Land Trust

-Founded in 1989, the World Land Trust (WLT) is an international conservation charity that seeks to protect the world’s most threatened habitats acre by acre.

-The charity funds partner organisations around the world to create reserves and give permanent protection to habitats and wildlife.

-Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2014, WLT has an impressive track record and has saved more than 500,000 acres of critically threatened habitat that would otherwise have been lost.

-WLT projects include protecting wildlife corridors used by Bengal tigers in India and providing safe havens for the endangered Caucasian Leopard.

-This landscape level approach is suited to conserving big cats: at the top of the food chain.

This is because big cats are territorial, requiring large areas of wild habitat, plentiful prey and, crucially, protection from those who would hunt them for skins, body parts and sport.

“We aim to raise £500,000 during Big Cat Big Match so that we can continue to support big cat conservation in countries where we already have programmes and in parts of the world such as Iran and Vietnam, where we are developing new partnerships.”

To donate, visit www.worldlandtrust.org.

Do you have a conservation story? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk


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