Big Cats – A special group of species that is so dearly loved and followed by wildlife enthusiasts globally. From Tigers to Lions, Jaguars, and even Caracals, these wild cats come in all shapes and sizes. They can be found spread across various parts of the world but the only thing uniting them is their mesmeric beauty. Below’s a list of the Top 05 Big Cat Species Around the World and where to find them.

 

1. Siberian Tiger

First, on our list of the top 05 big cat species around the world is the Siberian Tiger. Siberian or Amur Tigers are assumed to be the largest big cat around the world. Siberian tigers are distinguishable by their striped fur. Similar to people’s unique fingerprints, no two tigers have the same striped pattern. Siberian tigers differ from other tigers because they have fewer, paler stripes, and they also have manes. The mane, in addition to their thick fur, helps keep them warm.

 

Basic facts about Siberian Tiger:

 

Common NameSiberian Tiger
Scientific NamePanthera tigris altaica
Size10.75 feet
Weight660 pounds
IUCN StatusEndangered

 

siberian tiger result

 

Population Range of Siberian Tiger:

They live primarily in eastern Russia’s birch forests, though some exist in China and North Korea. Though their northern climate is far harsher than those of other tigers, these animals have some advantages. Northern forests offer the lowest human density of any tiger habitat and the most complete ecosystem. The vast woodlands also allow tigers far more room to roam, as Russia’s timber industry is currently less extensive than that of many other countries.

 

Hunting by Siberian Tigers:

Tigers are solitary animals who aggressively scent-mark enormous areas to keep out competitors. They are powerful hunters that travel many miles to find prey, such as elk and wild boar, on nocturnal hunts.  Tigers hunt covertly by using their unusual coats as camouflage (no two have exactly the same stripes). They wait patiently and creep up on their prey before springing into action and killing it. Although they typically consume less food, a hungry tiger can consume up to 60 pounds in a single night.

 

Reproduction of Siberian Tigers:

Females give birth to litters of two to six cubs, which they raise with little or no help from the male. Cubs cannot hunt until they are 18 months old, and remain with their mothers for two to three years when they disperse to find their own territory.

 

Threats to Survival of Siberian Tigers:

One cause of their dwindling population is the loss of habitat due to deforestation. In addition, Siberian tigers are poached or illegally hunted, for their fur and for body parts that are used for traditional medicines.

 

 

2. Royal Bengal Tiger

Second, on our list of the top 05 big cat species around the world is the Royal Bengal Tiger. A must-see on every wildlife enthusiast’s list, this beauty is the only subspecies of the tiger population, thriving in the wild. Their population has steadily increased over the last decade. Second in line to their large brothers – the Siberian Tiger, it is only in India that you can find these beautiful species roaming wild.

The Tiger is a Solitary animal, the only time when a “streak” of tigers can be seen is a mother with her cub(s) or a courting Male and Female Tiger. Rarely, one may also witness an entire Family of Tigers when the Male spends time off patrolling his area and visiting his cubs. You can book a tiger safari in India with us. Explore our tiger safari tour packages.

Read more about the Royal Bengal Tigers here.

 

Basic facts for Royal Bengal Tiger:

 

Common NameRoyal Bengal Tiger
Scientific NamePanthera tigris tigris
SizeHead and body: 5 to 6 feet; tail: 2 to 3 feet
Weight240 – 500 pounds
IUCN StatusEndangered

 

bengal tiger in bandhavgarh result

 

Population Range for Royal Bengal Tiger:

Bengal tigers live in India and are sometimes called Indian tigers. They are the most common tiger and number about half of all tigers surviving in the wild. Today, they can be traced to almost all regions and national parks in India – Central (eg: Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench, Panna), Northern (eg: Corbett), Western (eg: Ranthambore, Sariska), Southern (eg: Nagarhole, Bandipur, Periyar), and Eastern (eg: Kairanga). Due to their wide range, they have become an important part of Indian tradition and lore. A symbol of strength and respect, it has a fascinating mythological and anthropological relationship with the people of India.

The Tiger count in India stands officially at 2967 (2018 All-India Census). This is a steep rise from the All-India Tiger Census in 2014 which showed that there were 2226 tigers in the wild in India.

One can only associate a number increase with a more effective counting method, and increased areas covered in the survey, as statistics show that the habitat for the Bengal tiger continues to shrink exponentially. While we laud the efforts of those on the field in terms of guarding against poaching, the policymakers of India leave a lot to be desired when it comes to increasing the threshold limit that has currently been met for the Tiger in India.

 

Hunting by Royal Bengal Tiger:

Being Solitary, their hunting efforts may be time and energy-consuming, though they are not averse to scavenging from other animals as well. A Bengal Tiger must ideally be within 30 feet of its prey to stand a good chance of capturing it. It is said that 7 out of 10 hunts end in failure. The keen sense of hearing and smell of ungulates in their numbers and the watchful eyes of Primates as they sound an alarm in the event of any threat are detrimental to the Tiger’s attempts at finding a meal. That being said, the Tiger is a hugely sentient animal, built for the kill and it uses its strength and experience to bring down large animals. A large animal such as the Sambar or Nilgai may last the Tiger 2 days, and it feeds in intervals – capable of devouring 20 kilograms of meat per day.

 

Reproduction of Royal Bengal Tiger:

There is no fixed mating season for a Bengal Tiger. When a Female Royal Bengal Tiger is in estrus and ready to mate, she leaves signs in the form of a Scent Mark or Sprays on visible trees which may lie in the path of a Male Bengal Tiger. These urinal sprays carry a heavy scent and have pheromones – which the Male Tiger can pick up by smelling it and using his Jacobson’s Organ to comprehend these chemical signals from it. A Tigress may also call out or roar in the hopes of attracting a Male Tiger nearby.

These roars can be heard at distances of around 4 km by another Tiger. Sometimes, these signals create conflict as multiple males who pick on this may clash, resulting in fights. At times, these fights lead to fatal injuries. Hence, the females get to select the strongest available gene for their offspring. It is not always in the hands of a female however, as an intruder Male Tiger may kill the cubs when young if she cannot protect them. He does this in the hopes of mating with her as she could quickly go back to estrous if her cubs are killed. A Male and Female Bengal Tiger typically remain together for a couple of days, copiously mating in the hopes of conception. Although successful conception is a real matter of mystery, as it has been observed that, despite multiple pieces of evidence of mating, some Female Tigers do not conceive – this could be due to various factors such as lack of availability of suitable habitat, stress, and competition with other Tigers.

The Gestation Period is usually between 100-115 days. Offspring ranges from 2-5 cubs per litter. In extremely rare cases, 5 cubs are born, however, all 5 usually do not survive. Only 1 Wild Tiger known to man has successfully raised 5 cubs successfully to adulthood. You may reach this living legend from Pench National Park, here. The Female Tiger raises the cubs by herself, and her task is to hunt successfully while keeping her cubs well hidden during her expeditions. The task is difficult and the defense-less cubs face innumerable dangers in their early stages of life. Hence, the mortality rate is rather high.

A Female Tiger will also bring down prey, wounding it gravely, however, she avoids giving it the fatal bite. She presents it to the cubs, who have to learn how to end the life of the hapless animal. They then have to learn how to remove the hair and tear the flesh apart. Gruesome as it sounds, these are priceless survival skills that have to be learned by each Tiger. By the time the cubs are 18-22 months of age, she gradually stops feeding them and is a bit more aggressive with them before she finally drives them out of her area – thus ending their dependence on her. They are to fend for themselves now, and life of Solitude awaits them in their struggle to survive and forge territories of their own. Hopefully, they would have made successful hunts by themselves by then.

 

Challenges faced by the Royal Bengal Tiger in India:

One of the very prime challenges faced by the Tiger is habitat loss. Tigers have lost an estimated 95% of their historical range. Their habitat has been destroyed, degraded, and fragmented by human activities. The clearing of forests for agriculture and timber, as well as the building of road networks and other development activities, pose serious threats to tiger habitats. Tigers need wide swaths of habitat for their survival since they have large home ranges and are very territorial. Fewer tigers can survive in small, scattered islands of habitat, which leads to a higher risk of inbreeding and makes tigers more vulnerable to poaching as they venture beyond protected areas to establish their territories.

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3. African Lion

Third, on our list of the top 05 big cat species around the world is the African Lion. African lions have been admired throughout history as symbols of courage and strength. These iconic animals have powerful bodies—in the cat family, they’re second in size only to tigers—and roars that can be heard from five miles away. An adult lion’s coat is yellow-gold, and juveniles have some light spots that disappear with age. Only male lions typically boast manes, the impressive fringe of long hair that encircles their heads.

 

Basic facts about the African Lion:

 

Common NameAfrican Lions
Scientific NamePanthera Leo
SizeHead and body, 4.5 to 6.5 feet; tail, 26.25 to 39.5 inches
Weight265 – 420 pounds
IUCN StatusVulnerable

 

african lion

 

Population Range of African Lion:

African lions once roamed most of Africa and parts of Asia and Europe. But the species has disappeared from 94 percent of its historic range and can only be found today in parts of sub-Saharan Africa. These lions mainly stick to the grasslands, scrub, or open woodlands where they can more easily hunt their prey, but they can live in most habitats aside from tropical rainforests and deserts.

 

African Lion Prides and Hunting:

Lions are the only cats that live in groups, which are called pride—though there is one population of solitary lions. Pride is family units that may comprise anywhere from two to 40 lions—including up to three or four males, a dozen or so females, and they’re young. All of a pride’s lionesses are related, and female cubs typically stay with the group as they age. Young males eventually leave and establish their own pride by taking over a group headed by another male.

Males defend the pride’s territory, marking the area with urine, roaring menacingly to warn intruders, and chasing off animals that encroach on their turf.

Female lions are the pride’s primary hunters and leaders. They often work together to prey upon antelopes, zebras, wildebeest, and other large animals of the open grasslands. Many of these animals are faster than lions, so teamwork pays off. Female lions also raise their cubs communally.

After the hunt, the group effort often degenerates into squabbling over the sharing of the kill, with cubs at the bottom of the pecking order. Young lions do not help to hunt until they are about a year old. Lions will hunt alone if the opportunity presents itself, and they also steal kills from hyenas or wild dogs.

 

Threats to the survival of African Lions:

African lions face a variety of threats—most of which can be attributed to humans. Fearing that lions will prey on their livestock, which can be a significant financial blow, ranchers may kill the animals both in retaliation and as a preventative measure, sometimes using pesticides as poison. Poachers target the species, too, as their bones and other body parts are valuable in the illegal wildlife trade.

The role trophy hunting plays is controversial. Mismanaged hunting in the past has caused lions to disappear from some habitats, while hunters and those involved in the industry say hunting fees generate money for lion conservation.

Further fueling this conflict between lions and humans is the loss of prey across the species’ range. African lions prey on large herbivores, a population that’s being hunted for increasingly commercial bushmeat trade. The IUCN estimates these populations have declined by as much as 52 percent in East Africa and 85 percent in West Africa.

 

4. Asiatic Lions

Fourth, on our list of the top 05 big cat species around the world is the Asiatic Lion. Nearly all wild lions live in sub-Saharan Africa, but one small population of Asiatic lions exists in India’s Gir Forest. Gir is the only sanctum for their existence and continues to be a sanctuary for their survival.

 

Basic facts about the Asiatic Lions:

 

Common NameAsiatic Lions
Scientific NamePanthera leo persica
SizeThe height at the shoulders is about 3.5 ft (110 cm). The maximum recorded total length of a male Asiatic lion is 2.92m (115 inches) including the tail.
Weight300 – 500 pounds
IUCN StatusEndangered

 

asiatic lion in gir

 

Population Range of Asiatic Lion:

Asiatic lions once prowled from the Middle East to India. Now, only a fraction of these magnificent animals survives in the wild. The Gir Forest’s dry teak woods were once a royal hunting ground. Today they are a reserve where these at-risk big cats are heavily protected. Asiatic lions were once distributed up to the state of West Bengal in the east and Rewa in Madhya Pradesh, in central India. The last surviving population of the Asiatic lions is a compact tract of dry deciduous forest and open grassy scrublands in the southwestern part of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat.

 

Characteristics of Asiatic Lion:

Asiatic lions are slightly smaller than African lions. Adult males weigh 160 to 190 kg, while females weigh 110 to 120 kg. The height at the shoulders is about 3.5 ft (110 cm). The maximum recorded total length of a male Asiatic lion is 2.92m (115 inches) including the tail. The most striking morphological character, which is always seen in Asiatic lions, and rarely in African lions, is a longitudinal fold of skin running along its belly. The fur ranges in color from ruddy, tawny, heavily speckled with black, to sandy or buff-grey, sometimes with a silvery sheen in certain lights. Males have only moderate mane growth at the top of the head so that their ears are always visible.

 

Conservation Issues of Asiatic Lions:

The lions face the usual threats of poaching and habitat fragmentation. Three major roads and a railway track passing through the Gir Protected Area (PA). Also, there are three big temples inside the PA that attract a large number of pilgrims, particularly during certain times of the year. There has been an increase in the lion population, and more than 200 lions stay outside the PA.

Though the conflict is not high now, with changing lifestyles and values these may increase in the future. There are also cases of lions dying by falling into the unguarded wells around the Gir PA. The Asiatic lion faces the threat of genetic inbreeding arising from a single population in one place.

 

5. Jaguars

Last, on our list of the top 05 big cat species around the world is the Jaguar. Jaguars are the only big cat in the Americas and the third biggest in the world after tigers and lions. They look a lot like leopards, which live in Africa and Asia, but jaguars’ spots are more complex and often have a dot in the center. These powerful cats were worshipped as gods in many ancient South American cultures, and representations of the jaguar show up in the art and archaeology of pre-Columbian cultures across the jaguar’s range.

 

Basic facts about Jaguars:

 

Common NameJaguars
Scientific NamePanthera onca
SizeHead and body, five to six feet; tail, 27.5 to 36 inches
Weight100 to 250 pounds
IUCN StatusNear Threatened

 

jaguar

 

Population Range of Jaguars:

Jaguars once roamed broadly from central Argentina all the way up to the southwestern United States. Since the 1880s, they’ve lost more than half their territory. Their main stronghold today is the Amazon Basin, though they still exist in smaller numbers throughout Central America as well.

They’re typically found in tropical rainforests but also live in savannas and grasslands.

 

Diet and Behaviour of Jaguars:

Unlike many other cats, jaguars do not avoid water. In fact, they are quite good swimmers. They hunt fish, turtles, and even caimans, using their incredibly powerful jaws to pierce the animals’ skulls. Jaguars also eat deer, peccaries, capybaras, tapirs, and a number of other land animals, which they prefer to ambush at night.

Jaguars live alone, and they’re territorial—they define their area by marking with their waste or clawing trees.

Females have a litter of one to four cubs, which are blind and helpless at birth. The mother stays with them and defends them fiercely from any animal that may approach—even their own father. Young jaguars learn to hunt by living with their mothers for two years or more.

 

Threats to the survival of Jaguars:

Jaguars face a number of threats, including habitat fragmentation and illegal killing. South and Central America’s high rates of deforestation—for grazing land, agriculture, and other uses—have not only destroyed jaguars’ habitat but also broken it up. Fragmented forests mean that cats get boxed into patches of forest and can’t travel far to find new mates. That kind of isolation can lead to inbreeding and local extinctions.

Another threat jaguars face is retaliatory killings from ranchers. As grazing land replaces forests, jaguars are more likely to hunt cattle. In response—and sometimes in anticipation—cattle owners kill jaguars.

 

Poaching is another growing problem for jaguars. They’ve long been hunted for their pelts, and now there’s a growing illegal, international trade in jaguar teeth and jaguar bone products going to China.

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6. Indian Leopard

The Indian Leopard’s rosettes are larger than those of the other subspecies, and its coat is lighter in desert environments, grayer in colder climates, and more ochre in rainforest settings. Each individual may be identified by their distinct rosette pattern, just as it is with other leopard subspecies. Males are larger and heavier than females due to sexual dimorphism.

In the same way, as other leopard subspecies prefer to stay hidden during the day and hunt at night, Indian Leopards are solitary predators that prefer to stay on the ground during the day. They are more prone to pull their prey up trees in areas containing other predators, such as Bengal tigers, striped hyenas, and dhole (wild dogs). They are opportunistic hunters with huge heads and powerful jaw muscles to take down herbivores of a similar size to themselves. The Indian leopard mostly feeds on chital, sambar, and langur species, although it has also been observed to kill and eat spotted deer, nilgai, wild pig, cattle, hare, dog, porcupine, and even dogs.

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indian leopard

 

Basic facts about the Indian Leopard:

 

FamilyFelidae
Sub FamilyPantherinae
GeneraPanthera
Common NameLeopard / Indian Leopard

 

The population of Indian Leopards:

There are believed to be between 12,000 and 14,000 leopards in India, making it the region with the greatest genetic diversity/outbreeding of any subspecies in Asia. However, more than 3,000 leopards were poached in India for their skins and body parts for the illicit wildlife trade between 1994 and 2010.

There may be fewer than 10,000 mature Indian Leopards left, according to the current IUCN assessment, which classifies all leopard subspecies as Vulnerable.

 

Habitat of Indian Leopards:

Since Indian leopards are adept tree climbers and use trees for shelter, they can be found in a wide variety of forest types. Indian leopards can be found in almost all national parks of the country but are mostly found in the following parks.

  • Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Jawai Leopard Hill
  • Jim Corbett National Park
  • Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Tadoba Tiger Reserve

 

Threats to Indian Leopard:

Conflict with humans, poaching for illegal trade in body parts, and habitat loss are the primary dangers threatening India’s common leopard population. Road deaths are another major cause of leopard extinction in and around wildlife preserves.

 

7. Cheetah

A huge and muscular feline, the Cheetah was once widespread over Africa, Asia, and even Europe. Once widespread around the globe, this animal is now confined to a few isolated areas due to expanding human populations and the fur trade. It is generally agreed that there are five distinct subspecies of cheetah, each identified primarily by its geographic location rather than by any significant differences in appearance.

One of Africa’s most potent predators, the cheetah is best famous for its incredible speed during a chase, although it is not recognised to be a member of the “big cat” family because it does not roar. The cheetah is the world’s fastest land mammal, with top speeds of over 60 miles per hour for brief periods of time.

 

cheetah with cubs

 

Basic facts about Cheetahs:

 

FamilyFelidae
ClassMammalia
GeneraAcinonyx
Scientific NameAcinonyx jubatus

Habitat & Distribution of Cheetahs:

Once widespread throughout many continents, modern-day cheetah populations are much more dispersed, with only a handful living in Iran and the vast majority in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s true that cheetahs can still be found in some locations in eastern and southern Africa, but the largest population of wild cheetahs is now in Namibia, which is located in southwestern Africa.

Although cheetahs are most often seen stalking prey on the vast, open grasslands, they can be found in a range of other habitats, such as deserts, dense foliage, and mountainous terrain, as long as there is access to sufficient food and water. Cheetahs are one of Africa’s most endangered cats, and their numbers are declining mostly due to the expansion of human populations into their natural habitats.

 

Prey & Diet of Cheetah:

Cheetahs are carnivores, which means they only consume the meat of other animals for sustenance. They prey mostly on large herbivores like zebras, gazelles, and antelopes like wildebeest, as well as on smaller prey like hares and jackals. However, the Cheetah’s precise diet is often context-dependent.

In open areas, cheetahs may kill their prey before dragging it into a hiding spot to protect it from being scavenged. This is because the cheetah needs time to cool down after the pursuit before it can begin feasting on its victim.

 

Threats & Predators of Cheetah:

Humans pose the greatest danger to cheetahs because they have converted large swaths of their natural habitat into private properties and protected areas. Cheetah numbers are much lower in these regions because of increased competition for food from lions and hyenas, which appear to be on the rise in these regions.

Because of its status as the top predator in its habitat, adult cheetahs are avoided as competition rather than prey by other large predators. However, when the mother is out hunting, the cubs are especially defenseless; they are a target for many predators, including lions, hyenas, and even large birds of prey like eagles and vultures.

 

8. Snow Leopard

The snow leopard has adapted to survive in some of the most extreme environments on the planet. Their thick, grey coat is patterned with big black rosettes, making it a wonderful match for the rocky, steep mountains of Asia. Snow leopards are commonly referred to as the “ghost of the mountains” because of their excellent natural camouflage, which makes them nearly invisible in their environment.

The snow leopard is easily identifiable by its whitish-gray fur and distinctive black spots on its head and neck. From the back to the tail, these expand into more rounded rosettes. Because of the large amount of fat they carry, their tails are long and thick. Because the fur on their tails is so thick, they can use it to cover their faces while they sleep.

A male snow leopard can weigh up to 165 pounds, making it the heaviest of all felines. They have shorter, thinner canines than other Pantheras, measuring an average of 1.13 inches in length.

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snow leopard

 

Basic facts about Snow Leopards:

 

FamilyFelidae
HabitatAlpine & Subalpine Mountains
ActivityCrepuscular
Scientific NamePanthera uncia

Habitat & Distribution of Snow Leopards:

The snow leopard’s home area includes southern Siberia, Mongolia, and western China in addition to eastern Afghanistan, the Himalayas, and the Tibetan Plateau. The alpine and subalpine regions are home to snow leopards.

They have gained the moniker “ghost of the mountains” due to their penchant for resting in the shadow of cliffs and mountain ranges. They are most at home in rocky outcrops and other broken landscapes, but will also make their home in forests and gentler hills.

 

Snow Leopard Prey & Hunting:

Even though they are nocturnal creatures, snow leopards are most often spotted in the early morning, late afternoon, and early evening. They’ve adapted to survive on a diet of meat from enormous mountain animals, and they’re able to successfully hunt those animals in environments with few natural resources. The primary prey of snow leopards was determined through a meta-analysis to be Himalayan blue sheep (ghazal), tahr, and Siberian ibex, all of which are important to conserve for the species’ future. Furthermore, they feed on markhor, boar, deer, and marmots.

 

9. Puma

Puma is huge, elusive cats that can be found in the highlands from southern Canada to the southern tip of South America. While Pumas, also known as the Cougar and the Mountain Lion, can grow to be as huge as any individual member of the genus Panthera, they are more closely related to the smaller feline species. Since pumas may be found in so many different regions, seven distinct subspecies have been recognised. These pumas have many similar traits but can differ in size and coloration.

Due to its widespread distribution and ability to thrive in a wide range of environments, the puma has earned a reputation as one of the most adaptable felines in the Americas. Its scientific name, Felis concolor, literally translates to “cat of one colour,” reflecting the fact that the puma’s fur lacks any distinguishing patterns.

 

Puma in wild

 

Basic facts about the Puma:

 

FamilyFelidae
ClassMammalia
GenusPuma
Scientific NameFelis concolor

 

Appearance & Physical Characteristics of Puma:

Pumas have a thick coat of fur to protect them from the cold winters they face in the mountains, where they are most commonly seen. The fur colour of the Puma ranges from brown-yellow to grey-red, with the fur of individuals living in colder locations being more grey and the fur of animals living in warmer parts being redder.

The Puma is a formidable predator, thanks in large part to its robust hind legs, which are slightly longer and stronger than the front, and hence more agile when leaping. In addition, their paws are gigantic compared to the rest of their bodies. The Puma’s huge, widely spaced eyes allow it to see not just what’s directly in front of it, but also what’s happening at a considerable distance all around it. They can still hear their prey in the dark thanks to their pointed ears and excellent hearing.

 

Distribution & Habitat of the Snow Leopard:

The puma is a mountain dweller that may be found in both the Andes and the Rockies, where it can be found in rocky outcrops and meadows at a somewhat lower elevation than the herbivores. Despite these apparent preferences, pumas are surprisingly versatile and may be found in a wide range of ecosystems, from forests and tropical jungles to grasslands and even arid deserts.

However, as human populations grow and more land is cleared for agriculture, the Puma’s once-vast territory continues to shrink, and it is being forced to seek refuge in more remote, harsh alpine regions. However, it is generally agreed that the Puma’s versatility has been crucial in preventing its extinction in the wild.

 

Diet & Prey of Puma:

As a huge and powerful carnivore, the Puma relies solely on its prey for sustenance. Mice, rats, birds, fish, and rabbits are common prey on the Puma because of the availability of these species in the lowland forests and along fertile mountain slopes. The Puma’s size gives it an advantage in hunting larger prey such as sheep, raccoons, goats, and livestock, which it secures by pouncing on. The puma is able to outpace many of the species it preys upon because it is not only large but also nimble and highly muscular.

 

Predators & Threats of Puma:

The puma is a top predator in much of its natural range and is consequently rarely attacked by smaller animals. However, other huge predators like bears, wolves, and even fellow pumas have been found to prey on pumas that are weak from illness or injury

Puma populations have declined due to human activity, including the hunting of this giant cat (mostly for its fur) and the destruction of its natural habitat across much of its range (primarily as a result of increasing human population density and the clearing of land for agricultural purposes). They are frequently targeted by ranch owners who blame Pumas for the deaths of their livestock.

 

10. Clouded Leopard

Located in the deep tropical jungles of south and southeast Asia, the Clouded Leopard is a medium-sized feline. While it shares its name with the leopard, the Clouded Leopard is not closely related to leopards and is instead seen by many to be the evolutionary link between large and tiny cats. Because of how rarely people see wild Clouded Leopards and how nocturnal they are, very little is known about their behaviour.

The Clouded Leopard (which lives on the mainland) and the Sunda Clouded Leopard (which lives in the islands of Borneo and Sulawesi) are now considered to be two distinct species (Borneo and Sumatra). Loss of their tropical forest habitat and hunting for their meat and fur have contributed to the critically low population levels of both species.

 

clouded leopard

 

Basic facts about the Clouded Leopard:

 

FamilyFelidae
ClassMammalia
GenusNeofelis
Scientific NameNeofelis nebulosa

Distribution & Habitat of Clouded Leopard:

Native territory for the Clouded Leopard includes much of south and southeast Asia, including India, southern China, Burma, Nepal, much of Indochina, and the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Taiwan used to have them too, but it’s assumed they’re gone forever now. Due to the fact that they spend the majority of their time in the trees, Clouded Leopards are most at home in dense forest environments, such as tropical and subtropical forests and jungles, at elevations of up to 2,000 metres.

Clouded leopards are often thought to live primarily in extremely thick jungle, although they have actually been spotted in a wide range of different environments, including tall grasslands in Nepal and mangrove swamps in Borneo. Deforestation to make way for agriculture or loggers poses a concern across its natural habitat, with the greatest threat concentrated on the island of Borneo.

 

Diet & Prey of Clouded Leopard:

The Clouded Leopard is a strict carnivore, meaning it can only get the nutrients it requires from the meat of other animals. Clouded leopards in Thailand favour rodents, ground squirrels, and porcupines, whereas those in other parts of their range are more likely to prey on primates including pig-tailed macaques, gibbons, and probosci’s monkeys.

Nighttime hunters, Clouded Leopards can get low to the ground to stalk their prey or wait in ambush on a branch above to attack. When food is scarce in the forest, they are known to hunt birds, deer, cattle, juvenile wild boars, and animals like chickens and goats in regions near human civilization. Following a meal, clouded leopards typically retreat to the woods to relax and digest.

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