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TOMS Animal Initiative Founder Puts Her Foot Down for Big Cats

Heather Mycoskie was inspired to found the TOMS Animal Initiative when she learned that wild lions are at risk of being extinct. Through the initiative, the famously conscientious shoe company now partners with nonprofit animal conservation organizations to drive awareness and funding for global animal protection.

For the latest TOMS Animal Initiative, they are partnering with National Geographic and supporting its critical nonprofit work through the Big Cats Collection. Inspired by lions in their natural habitat, Heather is passionate to save these felines.

Here, Heather shares some favorite photos from her journey to explore Botswana with National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence, Dereck and Beverly Joubert, who founded the Big Cats Initiative with National Geographic in 2009.

I had the honor of fulfilling a lifelong dream of traveling to Botswana to meet National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence, Beverly and Dereck Joubert to learn more about the Big Cats Initiative. This initiave is a comprehensive program supporting on-the-ground conservation projects, education and a global public awareness campaign. (Photo courtesy TOMS and National Geographic)
I had the honor of fulfilling a lifelong dream of traveling to Botswana to meet National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence, Beverly and Dereck Joubert, to learn more about the Big Cats Initiative. This initiave is a comprehensive program supporting on-the-ground conservation projects, education and a global public awareness campaign. (Photo courtesy TOMS and National Geographic)
Botswana is such a beautiful country. As the sun was rising, we were greeted by African Elephants. I quickly reminiced on our past TOMS Animal Initiative partnership with Wildlife Conservation Society and the Clinton Foundation where we partnered together to protect African Elephants. It was truly such an amazing sight to see these magestic creatures in the wild! (Photo courtesy TOMS and National Geographic)
Botswana is such a beautiful country. As the sun was rising, we were greeted by African Elephants. I quickly reminiced on our past TOMS Animal Initiative partnership with Wildlife Conservation Society and the Clinton Foundation where we partnered together to protect African Elephants. It was truly such an amazing sight to see these majestic creatures in the wild! (Photo courtesy TOMS and National Geographic)
Dereck and Beverly are the big cat experts, and they shared with me all of the incredible work they are building with the Big Cats Initiative. Some of their projects include building livestock enclosures to protect endangered cats from retaliatory killing. (Photo courtesy TOMS and National Geographic)
Dereck and Beverly are the big cat experts, and they shared with me all of the incredible work they are building with the Big Cats Initiative. Some of their projects include building livestock enclosures to protect endangered cats from retaliatory killing. (Photo courtesy TOMS and National Geographic)
It was so exciting to experience first-hand the work that National Geographic and the Jouberts are doing. Here we are crossing a river along the Okavango Delta. (Photo courtesy TOMS and National Geographic)
It was so exciting to experience firsthand the work that National Geographic and the Jouberts are doing. Here we are crossing a river along the Okavango Delta. (Photo courtesy TOMS and National Geographic)
Lions are most deeply affected by hunting, bone trade and habitat loss. The Jouberts saw the lion population drop from 450,000 to 20,000 over the course of 50 years, so they knew something must be done to help. (Photo courtesy TOMS and National Geographic)
Lions are most deeply affected by hunting, bone trade and habitat loss. The Jouberts saw the lion population drop from 450,000 to 20,000 over the course of 50 years, so they knew something must be done to help. (Photo courtesy TOMS and National Geographic)
The limited edition collection includes shoes, eyewear and a backpack and is inspired by National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative. Each item in the collection features design elements representative of a big cat as well as iconic photography from National Geographic’s image library. (Photo courtesy TOMS and National Geographic)
The limited edition TOMS Big Cats Collection includes shoes, eyewear, and a backpack and is inspired by National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative. Each item in the collection features design elements representative of a big cat as well as iconic photography from National Geographic’s image library. (Photo courtesy TOMS and National Geographic)
Big Cats in the wild are disappearing at an alarming rate and this collection draws attention to the critical need to protect felines for generations to come. (Photo courtesy TOMS and National Geographic)
Big Cats in the wild are disappearing at an alarming rate  It’s an ugly situation, but hopefully some beautifully designed gear can catch some eyes and draw attention to the critical need to protect felines now and for generations to come. (Photo courtesy TOMS and National Geographic)
The Big Cats Initiative also supports education projects working directly with community stakeholders to help local populations understand the ecological and economic value of preserving lions and other big cats. Here we are working with a local community in Seronga. (Photo courtesy TOMS and National Geographic)
The Big Cats Initiative also supports education projects working directly with community stakeholders to help local populations understand the ecological and economic value of preserving lions and other big cats. Here we are working with a local community in Seronga. (Photo courtesy TOMS and National Geographic)
The Big Cats Initiative is possible because of your support. If we don't do something about this now, these lions can disappear in our lifetime. We can all help by continuing to raise awareness for Big Cats and bringing these issues to mainstream. Find out how you can get involved at CauseAnUproar.org/TOMS. (Photo courtesy TOMS and National Geographic)
The Big Cats Initiative is possible because of your support. If we don’t do something about this now, these lions can disappear in our lifetime. We can all help by continuing to raise awareness for big cats and bringing these issues to mainstream. Find out how you can get involved at CauseAnUproar.org/TOMS. (Photo courtesy TOMS and National Geographic)

Learn more about the Big Cats Initiative.

Tune in to Big Cat Week on Nat Geo Wild.

Check out the TOMS Big Cats Collection.