International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA)

International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA)

International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA)

  • International Big Cat Alliance (IBCA) is a multi-country, multi-agency coalition of 96 big cat range countriesnon-range countries interested in big cat conservation, conservation partners and scientific organizations working in the field of big cat conservation besides business groups and corporates, to establish networks and develop synergies in a focused manner.
  • Its idea was 1st floated by India’s Prime Minister in 2019. It was launched in April 2023 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Project Tiger.
  • Membership to the alliance will be open to 97 ‘range’ countries, which contain the natural habitat of these big cats, as well as other interested nationsinternational organizations, etc.
  • The alliance’s purpose is to provide a platform for the dissemination of information on benchmarked practices, capacity building, resources repository, research and development, awareness creation, etc., on the protection and conservation of big cats.
  • Its major activities will include advocacy, partnership, knowledge e-portal, capacity building, eco-tourism, partnerships between expert groups and finance tapping.
  • After the first five years, which will be supported by India’s ‘total grant assistance’ of $100 million, the IBCA is expected to sustain itself through membership fees, and contributions from bilateral and multilateral institutions and the private sector
  • It aims at the conservation of seven big cats namely Tiger, Lion, Leopard, Snow Leopard, Cheetah, Jaguar, and Puma.

Objectives of IBCA

  • To stop the illegal wildlife trade of the seven big cats.
  • To work towards the conservation of natural habitats of the seven big cats.
  • Mobilisation of financial and technical resources for implementing the conservation and protection agenda.

Governing Structure

  • It will consist of an Assembly of Members, Standing Committee and a Secretariat, with its headquarters in India.
  • Its Framework of Agreement (statute) has been drafted largely on the pattern of the International Solar Alliance.
  • The statute of IBCA will be finalised by an International Steering Committee.
  • Steering Committee will be constituted with nominated national focal points of founding member countries.
  • Appointment of DG by MoEFCC as Interim Head of IBCA Secretariat till IBCA appoints its own DG during Assembly meeting.
  • IBCA Assembly at Ministerial level to be chaired by President, HMEFCC, Gol.

Big Cats

  • ‘Big Cat’ is a term that is used to apply to any large species of the family Felidae. Usually, it applies to the members of the genus Panthera.
  • The Indian subcontinent has been historically home to the Bengal tiger, Asiatic lion, Indian leopard, Indian/Asiatic cheetah as well as Snow leopard.
  • The cheetah was declared extinct in 1952. In 2022, the Government of India embarked on an ambitious programme to introduce African cheetahs to the Kuno National Park in MP.

Detail of these Big Cats

Cat Family and Genus:

  • The Family of Cats (Felidae) comprises three genus: (1) Panthera, (2) Puma, and (3) Acinonyx.
  • Panthera: This is the genus of large wild cats that can generally roar, but can’t purr. It includes Lion, Leopard, Jaguar, Tiger and snow leopard. The snow leopard is an exception to the rest of the group in that it can’t roar.
  • Puma: Closely related to the domestic cat, this genus has only one extant species, the cougar.
  • Acinonyx: This is a unique genus within the cat family, with only one living member, the cheetah.

Tiger (Panthera Tigris)

  • Status: Endangered
  • Tiger is the largest of all wild cats and also the earliest Panthera member to exist.  Primarily a forest animal, they range from the Siberian taiga to the Sunderban delta. 
  • It is the national animal of India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and South Korea.
  • Project Tiger is a tiger conservation programme launched in 1973 by the Government of India. It is administered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

Lion (Panthera Leo)

  • Status: Vulnerable.
  • Native to Africa and Asia, the lion is the most social cat, and lives in groups called prides. 
  • They prefer open forests such as scrubland, and adult males have a prominent mane. 
  • Range of Asiatic lion is restricted to Gir National Park of Gujarat.
  • The National Emblem of India is an adaptation of the Lion Capital of Ashoka erected by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka in Sarnath.

Jaguar (Panthera Onca)

  • Status: Near Threatened
  • The largest cat in the Americas, the Jaguar has the strongest bite force of all wild cats, enabling it to bite directly through the skull of its prey. 
  • Melanistic (black) Jaguars are common and are often called black panthers. 

Leopard (Panthera Pardus)

  • Status: Vulnerable
  • It is similar in appearance to the Jaguar with a rosette patterned coat. 
  • The most adaptable of all big cats, they occupy diverse habitats at all altitudes across Africa and Asia. 
  • Like black jaguars, melanistic leopards are called black panthers. 

Snow leopard (Panthera Uncia)

  • Status: Vulnerable
  • This smokey-grey cat lives above the snow line in Central and South Asia. 
  • Of all big cats, it cannot roar, and has the longest tail of them all — which comes in handy for balance while hunting along the cliffs, and also gives warmth when wrapped around the body. 
  • The snow leopard is the state animal of Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh.

Cougar (Puma concolor)

  • Status: Least Concern
  • The cougar is the second-largest cat in the Americas. (The Jaguar is the largest.) 
  • Cougars are also called ‘mountain lion’ and ‘panther’ across their range from the Canadian Yukon to the Southern Andes. 

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

  • Status: Vulnerable
  • The fastest land mammal, the cheetah is the only cat without retractable claws — the grip helps it accelerate faster than any sports car (0-100 km/hr in 3 seconds). 
  • Cheetahs are not aggressive towards humans, and they have been tamed since the ancient era. 
  • They don’t breed well in captivity.
  • Cheetahs are not really big, and they hunt during the day to avoid competing with other big cats

Related Links

Wildlife Protection Act 1972State Animals of India
Project TigerProject Cheetah