Big Cats Conservation Grant

National Geographic Society

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Grant amount: Up to US $100,000

Next anticipated deadline: Jul 10, 2020 8:59pm PDT

Later anticipated deadlines: Jan 15, 2021 8:59pm PST

Applicant type: Individuals Nonprofit Indigenous Group

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Research, Project / Program

Location of project: Preferred: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, United Republic of, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe Other eligible locations: Africa

Location of residency: Africa; Americas; Antarctica; Europe; Oceania Show all

Age restriction: At least 18 years of age

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About this funder:



The National Geographic Big Cats Initiative (BCI) seeks to advance conservation efforts benefitting big cat populations, protecting and restoring them and their habitats via field-based, action-oriented, direct, and quantifiable strategic programs. The goal of this fund is to identify projects that will help halt the decline of African big cats in the wild. 

BCI conducted an evidence-based analysis to assess big cat conservation in Africa, identify funding gaps, and determine a focused engagement strategy for lion conservation funding (Jacobson and Riggio, 2018). As a result of this analysis, National Geographic’s lion population priorities have more than 50 individuals currently, either have high recovery potential or are current strongholds, are not primarily based around a trophy hunting reserve, and are primarily threatened by human-wildlife conflict or livestock encroachment. Given these requirements, 17 lion populations qualify as National Geographic lion population priorities for conservation attention. Three additional lion populations from West and Central Africa were also included, since lions in these geographic regions are genetically distinct from those in East and Southern Africa. In total, BCI has identified 20 populations (and 32 lion areas), spread across 18 countries, as National Geographic lion priority areas. These priority populations encompass nearly 1.25 million square kilometers and are estimated to contain ~19,000 lions, or 83 percent of Africa’s known lion population (National Geographic Big Cats Initiative lion priority areas highlighted in map below.). Although priority will be given to projects focused on lions, projects on leopard and cheetah populations within these 20 areas will also be considered. For cheetahs, seek to fulfill the recommendations from formal regional strategies and national action plans.


Priority will be given to applicants who propose a project within one of the following National Geographic lion priority areas:

  •  Niokolo-Koba (Senegal)
  •  W-Arly-Pendjari  
    • W-Arly (Burkina Faso)
    • W-Pendjari (Benin)
    • W (Niger)
  • Benoue Complex (Cameroon)
  • Zakouma (Chad)
  • Chinko (Central African Republic)
  • Omo-Mago (Ethiopia)
  • Queen Elizabeth (Uganda)
  • Laikipia-Samburu-Marsabit (Kenya)
  • Tsavo-Mkomazi  
    • Amboseli-Chyulu-Tsavo (Kenya)
    • Mkomazi (Tanzania)
  • Katavi-Ruaha (Tanzania)
  • Serengeti-Mara  
    • Maasai Mara (Kenya)
    • Serengeti-Ngorongoro-Loliondo (Tanzania)
  • Southern Maasai Steppe (Tanzania)
  • Selous-Mikumi (Tanzania)
  • Niassa-Quirimbas (Mozambique)
  • Luangwa Valley (Zambia)
  • Zambezi Valley  
    • Mana Pools (Zimbabwe)
    • Lower Zambezi (Zambia)
  • Etosha-Kunene (Namibia)
  • Kavango-Zambezi  
    • Khaudum-Caprivi (Namibia)
    • Luengue-Luiana (Angola)
    • Sioma Ngwezi (Zambia)
    • Okavango-Chobe (Botswana)
    • Hwange (Zimbabwe)
  • Kgalagadi  
    • Kalahari Gemsbok (South Africa)
    • Central Kalahari-Khutse-Gemsbok (Botswana)
  • Greater Limpopo  
    • Gonarezhou-Save Valley (Zimbabwe)
    • Kruger (South Africa)
    • Limpopo (Mozambique)

Applicants may request up to $100,000. Successful applicants may use awarded funds over one or two years. Please see the Preparing Your Proposal page regarding budgetary guidance. We do not provide funding for weapons or ammunition.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Project Leadership
    • You may submit a proposal as the project leader for only one project at a time.
      • However, you may be a project member or co-applicant on multiple grants simultaneously.
    • You must submit a final report and media from any previous grants for which you were the leader before applying to lead a new project.
    • Organizations can apply for grants, but the person within the organization who will lead the project—not the institution—should be the applicant and will be expected to meet the requirements of the grant.
  • Age Restrictions
    • All applicants must be at least 18 years old at the time they submit an application.
  • Citizenship
    • We encourage applications from around the world.
    • If you are planning to work outside of your home country, you must include the name and contact information for at least one local collaborator as a project team member in the application


  • We do not usually consider applications that support strictly laboratory or collections work.
  • As a result of changes in Chinese law effective January 1, 2017, the National Geographic Society is unable to support new grantee work in mainland China.
    • This applies to any individual or organization proposing work in mainland China, regardless of citizenship.
    • We will still accept applications from residents of Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau as long as the proposed work is outside of mainland China. 
  • You are prohibited from engaging in any grant-funded work with any individual or organization who is on the Specially Designated National (SDN) list maintained by the U.S. Treasury.