STEPHEN SAUTNER: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)

JOHN DELANEY: (1-718-220-3275; jdelaney@wcs.org)

National Geographic’s “Biggest and Baddest” Series Features the Tree-climbing Lions of Uganda

NEW YORK (July 1, 2015)—The tree-climbing lions of Uganda and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s efforts to save them will be featured on National Geographic’s “Biggest and Baddest,” a new show about the world’s most legendary predators.

Dr. Andy Plumptre, Director of the WCS’s Albertine Rift Program, joins show host Niall McCann in Ishasha, of the southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park that is home to a populations of lions known for their ability to climb trees. This regular tree-climbing behavior is unusual for lions and is therefore a tourism attraction.

“Tree-climbing Lions of Ishasha” will air on Friday, July 3rd at 9 p.m. E.T. on Nat Geo WILD.

The lions featured in the July 3rd episode of “Biggest and Baddest” are the focus of a conservation effort to prevent an iconic African species from disappearing from Uganda. A recent study by WCS found that the country’s lion population has decreased by more than 30 percent in some areas since 2003. Lions are targeted by local cattle herders for livestock losses and other conflicts and the program also highlights WCS’s efforts to reduce these conflicts.

“Lions are a big part of the region’s tourism industry,” noted Plumptre. “The disappearance of lions from the country’s national parks would likely result in decreased attendance and fewer tourism dollars. Protecting these animals is in everyone’s best interest.”

WCS plan to establish an ecotourism program built around lions to raise money to compensate villages for the loss of livestock. This has been agreed in principle with the Uganda Wildlife Authority and WCS is seeking funding to make it happen. It would provide a way to improve lion conservation and improve relations with the people who are impacted by the presence of the lions.

The “Biggest and Baddest” follows McCann around the world in search of charismatic species; in addition to traveling to Uganda’s Ishasha region, McCann journeys from the wetlands of Venezuela in search of giant anacondas, to the forests of Nepal on the trail of tigers, and to Australia’s Northern Territory to observe saltwater crocodiles. 

WCS’s work to protect lions within Uganda has been supported by the Wyss Foundation. WCS is grateful to Gryphon Productions Ltd, who made the film, and donated the two satellite collars for the lion monitoring that are depicted in the film.

About the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)

MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: www.wcs.org;http://www.facebook.com/TheWCShttp://www.youtube.com/user/WCSMedia  Follow: @thewcs.