GENEVA, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) announced Sunday that an international film festival will be held for the world's big cats, to raise global awareness of the critical challenges facing these iconic species.
The Film Festival, co-sponsored with the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, will be one of the global events that will anchor next year's UN World Wildlife Day, which will fall on March 3, CITES said.
CITES Secretary-General, John E. Scanlon, said: "All big cats are protected under CITES because unregulated and illegal trade poses serious threats to their survival. World Wildlife Day 2018 and the film festival give us a unique opportunity to raise awareness about their plight as well as the ongoing national and global efforts to save these majestic species."
The Festival will generate the level of attention big cats all deserve to ensure they are with us for generations to come, he added.
"At a time when the crisis can still be averted, it is essential to take action that empowers local engagement and personal commitment," explained Lisa Samford, Executive Director of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival.
"Our aim is to galvanize the power of media to inspire wonder, catalyze change and move the dial on the conservation of big cats. The festival will also engage the voices of local people from communities who are living with big cats, and seeking to support their conservation while securing a sustainable livelihood," Lisa said.
According to CITES, 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.
The UN agency said that over the past century, we have been losing big cats at an alarming rate due to loss of habitat and prey, conflicts with people, poaching and illegal trade.
For example, CITES figures show that tiger populations plummeted by 95 percent over the past 100 years and African lion populations dropped by 40 percent in just 20 years.
The CITES Secretariat is designated by the United Nations General Assembly as the global facilitator for the celebration of the World Wildlife Day each year in collaboration with organizations in the United Nations system.