Jagex is showing off their conservative side again this year by once again teaming up with World Wildlife Fund (WWF). This time WWF wants to encourage awareness about the most threatened Big Cats. From July 20th to August 17th the conservationist will be in Burthorpe. I respect Jagex for their support of worthy causes and it shows why Jagex and the RuneScape community is a different breed in the gaming community. Let’s take a look at what is going on during this event and then we can delve a little further into the plight of the Big Cats.

Stop by the conservationist in Burthorpe to participate in the activities. First up, Jagex has brought back ‘The Drop’, a trivia game this time centered on Big Cat trivia. Other improvements have also been made to The Drop. It’s offered twice an hour now and is instanced, which is very convenient. In addition, it seems to be running much smoother than in the past and hasn’t been plagued by the problems we saw in previous iterations. The object is to answer twelve questions about Big Cats with the first week’s emphasis on Jaguars and the second week’s focus on Tigers. For every question you get right the first week you earn a point. The first week you can earn twelve points and the second you can earn up to twenty four. The points can be spent at the conservationist’s sanctuary. You can adopt a tiger cub or a jaguar cub for nine points each. There are also three new titles: Snowy Assassin, Stealth Predator, and of course King of the Jungle, each costing you two points. The drop is only available for two weeks so stop by and check it out.

You can donate bonds to the conservationist as well. Donating one bond will allow you to adopt a lion cub. It’s important to note that for the duration of the event you can use a Beast of Burden pouch on your cub to turn it into a Beast of Burden just like your legendary pets. Five bonds will get you the snow leopard cub and every bond donated will get you a present containing seven treasure hunter keys. For every bond you donate, Jagex is donating $2.85 to WWF. As of today July 29th, 24,002 bonds have been donated bringing the total money raised to $68, 405.70. That’s not chump change and we’re only one week into the event. Nice job to Jagex and the players.

One thing I have noticed when talking to players in game is in spite of the drops’ efforts to raise awareness it seems that there is some confusion about just how threatened Big Cats are. Last year no one disputed the dire situation the black rhino was in. Contrast this with the perception I’ve heard from many players that Big Cats are of course threatened but not like the rhino. This really couldn’t be further from the truth and had I not looked at the numbers myself, I’m not sure I would have believed it either. All of the following numbers on population come from the WWF’s website. For example the black rhino has an estimated population of 4,848. Compare this to the estimated number of snow leopards at 4,080 and you can see these animals are in trouble and need of conservation efforts. Tigers are in even more dire straits at an estimated population of 3,200. You might not think about tigers being so bad off because well, every zoo has a tiger and you’ve seen them but in the wild they are all but gone. This brings us to the Jaguar. The Jaguar is so hard to track; we don’t even know what the population is. We know they are endangered but their remoteness makes it very difficult to estimate. The African Lion is probably doing the best of all of these but even at that is looking at an estimated decline of 30% over the next few decades. It also depends on what part of Africa we’re talking about. The African lion once covered nearly all of Africa and is all but extinct in West Africa with its largest populations in East Africa where conservation efforts are strongest. It just goes to show that our wildlife is disappearing and without serious efforts could disappear in our lifetime. Can you imagine reading a book with your grandchild and showing them pictures of elephants, rhinos, and tigers and talking about them like they’re dinosaurs because they went extinct before they were born? That’s the kind of scenario that could happen.

I have to hand it to Jagex; they put their money where their heart is. They could have made a killing off of those pets (no pun intended) but they chose to help a worthy cause. I think it says a lot about the kind of company Jagex is. If you look at who they have done this for in the past, it’s been kids with disabilities and some of the most endangered animals on the planet. They’ve stood up and sacrificed some of their bottom line to actually help something – we don’t see enough of that these days. Not only that, but time and time again RuneScape players have shown their generosity. I’m not judging other game companies or their game communities but I can say that I’ve played a lot of games and I’ve been in a lot of communities and there’s no other company and community like this one. Major thanks to all that have donated and participated in this event. One final note to any of the naysayers out there. Giving nearly $70K away to charity in just the first week is not something a struggling company can do. No, the state of our game is strong, the number of our players is high, and the compassion in our hearts is overflowing. Until next time, Happy RuneScaping.


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