This year, instead of telling your students why big cats are important, why not let them tell you?
Several years ago, Dereck and Beverly Joubert, renowned wildlife filmmakers and National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence, started a program called “Letters to Lions” asking children to write letters explaining what lions mean to them. The letters were delivered to African leaders in charge of policy decisions about conservation. I chose the top five reasons that the children gave to save the lions.
Lions should be saved because:
1) “They are Just like us. We live in families and they live in prides.” (Jaiden E.)
Great point, Jaiden. Humans have the goal of survival just as lions do.
The primary difference between humans and lions is that humans have the
ability to make far-reaching decisions that impact all sorts of animals,
lions included. Lions can merely react when they are unable to find
food or when something threatens their territory, so it is our
responsibility to make good decisions to ensure that lions and all the
other species in the wild will survive and flourish.
Where would the hyenas and vultures get leftovers if lions weren’t
around to kill prey for them? I like the way T.J. thinks about the big
picture and the food chain rather than just focusing on lions. Way to
be! TJ has the dream of seeing lions in the wild. I hope that dream
comes true for him some day!
3) “They are not being mean they are just trying to get food.” (Cassie L.)
Cassie states an obvious and sincere reason why lions should be saved.
She also points out that if lions become extinct they will be in the
same boat as woolly mammoths.
Right you are, Spenser! Lions have a physicality that is both graceful,
masterful, and at times scary all at once. It amazes me that a cat
that large can creep up on animals so easily and smoothly.
5) “They are truly beautiful animals.”(Kasey M.)
I agree: Lions are magnificent, majestic creatures. Wouldn’t it be a
shame to allow the awe-inspiring “king of the jungle” to fade away into
If you want to speak up and share your thoughts on what lions mean to you, I encourage you to participate in the Big Cats Initiative Sister School Program. The program is an interactive, community service learning opportunity that connects students in the U.S. with students across the world living near big cat populations. Funds raised from the service learning activities will purchase much-needed school supplies for sister schools in Africa, while raising awareness globally. Learn how to get your school involved by clicking here. All schools are welcome!
Former Nat Geo Intern Rebecca Bice wrote this back in 2011, and it’s just as relevant today!