Big cats refer to the animals generally of the Panthera family. Big cats are apex predators and are usually solitary animals.
While many people are already aware of the types of big cats that exist in the wild, awareness must be brought toward their status in their environment. Due to deforestation, a lot of lands is lost which leaves these big cats homeless and has caused them to be found lesser and lesser.
Another very important thing to note is the abuse faced by these big cats. It has become sort of a “trend” in many places to keep big cats as pets which in itself is dangerous for the owners as well as the animals. Also, many circuses keep big cats and use them as props for the entertainment of the people, what we are not aware of here is the abuse and the cruel measures taken to keep these animals tamed. There have been many incidents where sometimes, the animal will break free and maim or kill the trainers which instead ends in killing the animal.
Other problem areas for these big cats include cub petting sessions where tiny newborn cubs are stripped from their mother and used as mere photo props. What many people do not know is that when these cubs grow, things do not end well, whether they are used for canned hunting, kept as pets in gruel conditions or worse, killed.
This article is not only meant for listing various types of big cats but also spread a little awareness about their endangering status in the wild with depleting habitats and poaching.
Lions are native to the African sub-Saharan subcontinent and a portion live in India’s Gir forest. And unlike other big cats, lions live in “prides” that can have up to 20 members. These big cats usually in grasslands and savannas and are listed as vulnerable on the conservation status.
Tigers usually live in rainforests or forests of other kinds. They are found across forests including India and countries in Southeast Asia. There are sub-species of tigers such as the Siberian tiger, tiger, and Sumatran tiger among others. Due to poaching and deforestation, tigers are listed as endangered on the conservation status.
While white tigers do exist in the world, what many people do not realize is that white tigers are not a result of nature. White tigers are bred in captivity and have a lot of health problems. People find this creature to be fascinating but the white coat of the tiger is caused due to massive inbreeding and is a result of a genetic defect. White tigers do not serve any purpose to the conservation of tigers and are solely a product of captivity and intense inbreeding.
Leopards are a species in the genus Panthera. They are native to sub-Saharan Africa, small parts of central and western Asia and also in the Indian Subcontinent. These big cats are listed as vulnerable on the conservation list. Leopards have also vanished from places such as Morocco, Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuwait where populations of leopards were found earlier. Leopards are also still hunted illegally for medicinal purposes and as trophies.
Jaguars are native to the southwestern parts of North America and many areas in South America. These big cats usually reside in deep jungles such as tropical forests, or swamp regions. They are apex predators and live in solitude. Jaguars are listed as “Not Threatened” on the conservation list. But the jaguar habitat has been decreasing constantly which has led in a drop of jaguars. Poaching jaguars for their skin is also a major reason which has led to a drop in the numbers.
Cougars are also known as mountain lions, catamount, puma and panthers. They are native to North America and are much adaptable than other big cats. While they are said to be nocturnal by nature, cougars have also been seen during daylight and dush. They are marked as “least concern” on the chart of conservation list. But cougar deaths have become common as they are killed when they prey on farm animals.
Snow leopards are also known as ounces. They typically inhibit colder regions and are native to mountain ranges in central and south Asia. Due to the preference of colder weather, snow leopards will in mountains and are rarely seen in plains. The habitat can reach an elevation of anywhere to 3000 – 4500 meters. But due to climate change and poaching, their numbers have fallen. Another factor is also due to greenhouse gas emission that has caused in the shrinking of the alpine zone.
Cheetahs are native to Northern, Southern and Eastern Africa. Their habitats include dryer regions including dry forests, savannahs, and scrubs. Typically solitary, cheetah mothers will live with their babies until they are independent, while sometimes they will form groups called coalition with other male cheetahs. Cheetahs are vulnerable as per the conservation list. Due to deforestation and human interference due to agriculture, the cheetah population have decreased and recent studies show that there are only 7100 cheetahs left in the wild
Ligers are hybrids born by crossing a male lion and a female tiger. They are genetically mutated and have no part in the conservation plan. The ligers have an enormous body growing up to 12 feet. But due to their size, they can have a lot of issues in their legs and bones. And due to their rarity and size, ligers are bred in captivity by breeders as a profit-making entertainment stint.
Unlike ligers, tigons do not grow as big as ligers. A tigon is bred by crossing a male tiger with a female lion. The tigons are bred in captivity and have no part in the conservation plan.