National Geographic Wild’s 11th annual Big Cat Month takes place this February with a month of television programming dedicated to the fiercest felines, creatures of magnificent strength, ferocity and beauty. With visually impressive and powerful stories from around the world, from lions, tigers, cheetahs and leopards to the most unknown and forgotten such as the serval, the African wildcat or the caracal, you can look forward to the fiercest programing on your screens every Saturday and Sunday throughout the month from 18:00.
This year’s installment celebrates the conservation work of acclaimed local big cat filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert. The Jouberts and the National Geographic Society founded the Big Cat Initiative in 2009, to highlight the challenges big cats face in the wild and work to halt their steady demise. The Big Cat Initiative works with some of the world’s leading big cat experts, funding on-the-ground research and innovative conservation projects to safeguard big cats and their critical habitats, while leading efforts to shine a light on the challenges these species face.
This Emmy-award winning couple have made 35 films for National Geographic over the last 40 years, but never one about cheetahs. This year, that changes with The Way of the Cheetah airing this Sunday. The film follows a mother and her four cubs as they survive sharing a habitat with five male cheetahs who would kill the cubs, given the chance. Cheetahs are faster than any other land mammal, but there are only 7 000 left in the world – and the very real threat they must outrun is extinction.
Also airing this weekend is Relentless Enemies, the story of a buffalo herd and the prides of lions who must learn to survive each other in a narrow piece of the Okavango. This film is narrated by multi-award-winning Jeremy Irons, who voiced the villain Scar in Disney’s 1994 animated The Lion King and in 2014 won an Emmy for Outstanding Narrator for Game of Lions.
The content for Big Cat Month is carefully curated and airs every Saturday and Sunday in February. Set the timer for these three shows this weekend:
Relentless Enemies – Saturday 5 February at 18:00
A buffalo herd of over 1 200 is forced to move through three lion territories while being confined by the flood waters on a small island in the Okavango. As the buffalos strategize their advancements, the lions react to each and every move they make. From the Joubert’s home base in Botswana, comes the epic story of buffalo and lions surviving and adapting to each other.
The Way of the Cheetah - Sunday 6 February at 18:00
There really is no other big cat on the planet that is like a cheetah. These are the most fragile cats physically and in numbers. Follow the journey of Immani, a sleek female with four new cubs as they navigate the vast plains of the Mara ecosystem. But living here is also a coalition of five males, and to save her cubs Immani must avoid them.
Big Cat Odyssey (Revealed) - Sunday 6 February at 18:45
Dereck and Beverly Joubert dive deeper into the issues that surround big cats, specifically African lions and leopards. What challenges do these iconic big cats face? How have these lions and leopards survived and adapted over the decades? The Joubert’s lead viewers on an epic journey through the lives of big cats and their most iconic moments.
Tune into National Geographic Wild on DSTV: Channel 182 or StarSat: 221 on DTH, 210 on DTT (250 on DTT in Uganda).
Learn more about the Big Cats Initiative and how you can help safeguard them in the wild by visiting natgeo.org/bigcats.