Since humans domesticated the cat, we often forget that many wild cats still live around us. From the African Savannah to the mountains of China and Canada, they roam in search of food and a good mate when they are in a frisky mood. Habitats have become much smaller for many of them. Carry on, friendly reader, to find out more about the worlds big cats.
The fastest mammal on the planet roams openly on the grasslands and forests of the Sahara desert. Cheetahs can accelerate faster than a sports car so good luck out running one if it decides that you are dinner. To avoid competition for food from larger and stronger lions, leopards, and hyenas, the cheetah prefers to hunt during the day. Their eyesight is amazing and they kill their prey with a bite to the throat. Female cheetahs are solitary and only allow the males near them to mate. They are listed as vulnerable due to habitat loss.
The Canadian Lynx
The Lynx wanders the boreal forests of Canada and can make its way down into Montana, Idaho, and Washington on occasion. Their long round feet allow them to walk effortlessly on deep snowpacks and have retractable claws to help them climb and hunt prey. Snowshoe hares are the favorite meal of the lynx. The biggest threat to the lynx is climate change and hunting for their fur. Additionally, overhunting by humans of the lynx’s primary food supply, the hare, makes it difficult to steadily increase the numbers of this furry cat.
Tigers are the largest of the big cats. Unlike their feline cousins, tigers love swimming in water. It helps keep them cool on hot days. Their roar can be heard from two miles away. If you hear one, best keep a safe distance. Their habitats range throughout Asia. Tigers are a keystone species, meaning they keep prey species under control attributing to healthy ecosystems. By helping the tiger survive, we help the ecosystems they live in survive as well. Seems like a win-win situation, does it not? Habitat loss is the biggest threat to this beast.
The Snow Leopard
Of the big cats, the snow leopard has always been my favorite. I feel a kindred spirit in them for their solitary, shy nature. They have long tails that help them keep their balance when traversing the mountains of Asia. The females give birth to their young in dens lined with their own fur. The cubs stay with her for up to two years while she teaches them to hunt for themselves. Their numbers have dwindled to fewer than 7000.
Back in Africa, the caracal has adapted to blend into its surroundings. Its fur is the color of dried grass. Like most cats, the caracal is solitary and males and females only come together to mate. They are stealthy cats. Unlike the lion who chases their prey, the caracal sneaks and then pounces. #sneakattack
It may seem daunting, but there are ways you can help. If you would like to help these big cats and other animals, you can visit the World Wildlife Funds website. The WWF works with communities to conserve animals and their habitats and also works to fight the effects of climate change. The organization is a non-profit that I gladly support.
If you are interested in the drawings you see here, I sell them on my Etsy page. I donate $5 (sometimes more, depending on the drawing) from the sale of each drawing and print in my animal drawing series to the WWF.