Are there cats that are native to Hawaii?
Big cats belong to the Felidae family
Together with their relative, the house cat, big cats make up the Felidae (cats) family, in which there are 39 species. The Felidae can be roughly divided into large and small cats.
In the subfamily of big cats there are the largest cats like tigers or lions. Nevertheless, it is not only the body size that decides in this classification, but the nature of the hyoid bone.
Big cats have a resilient hyoid bone that enables them to roar. It lengthens the tongue by about a third. This increases the air supply and a roar can be emitted.
So it happens that, for example, despite its impressive length of 1.50 meters, the puma is not counted among the big cats, but among the small cats that cannot roar.
The tiger is the largest big cat on earth
The tiger is the largest big cat on earth. He is at home in Asia. At the beginning of the 20th century it was still at home all over the continent: Its habitat ranged from the Caspian Sea to Central Asia to China, from the islands of Java and Bali in the Indian Ocean to icy Siberia.
The Java tiger, the Bali tiger and the Caspian tiger are already extinct. The South China tiger has not been sighted in decades. Scientifically proven, five of the nine subspecies are still alive.
According to estimates by the nature conservation organization "World Wide Fund for Nature" (WWF), there are only around 3900 tigers left in the world.
Leo - the king of animals
The habitat of the king of animals is also threatened. Estimates put between 16,000 and 35,000 lions in the wild. In Europe, lions became extinct more than 2000 years ago. Today ten subspecies still live in sub-Saharan Africa and one in Gir National Park in northwest India.
In contrast to the other big cats, the lion lives in a pack. In addition to habitat loss, its greatest threat is trophy hunting.
Leopard - The most adaptable wild cat
Because of its beautiful fur, the leopard is also hunted a lot as a trophy. It is very adaptable and has survived in areas where other big cats have long since become extinct.
The leopard is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, India, the Far East, the Himalayas, China, and the far northeast of Russia. Depending on where it lives, it differs in body size, eating habits and appearance.
Completely black animals are particularly noticeable. They are also known as black panthers and often appear in the same litter with normally drawn puppies.
Black leopards are mostly found in the damp, dense forests of Burma, southwest China, Nepal, and some parts of southern India.
Jaguar - America's largest big cat
At first glance, the jaguar is often confused with the leopard. The rosettes on its fur are larger than on the leopard and its home is the tropical rainforest around the Amazon.
In large parts of its range from Mexico to Argentina, the jaguar is threatened with extinction or has already disappeared. The numbers range between 15,000 and 25,000 animals in the wild.
After the tiger and the African lion, the jaguar is the third largest cat species in the world. He is an excellent swimmer and, in addition to hunting rodents, birds and deer, also hunts many aquatic animals such as fish, turtles and small crocodiles.
Like most of its relatives, the jaguar is a loner and only meets with its conspecifics during the mating season.
Displaced and hunted
The deforestation of the rainforests threatens the habitat of the jaguar in South America. In Africa, the home of lions and leopards is shrinking due to agriculture and industry.
And the situation for tigers in Asia is particularly dramatic. Big cats everywhere arouse the wrath of farmers for killing livestock or domestic animals.
In the rainforest, the savannah and the jungle, people get what they need to live and what they can sell. At the same time, they take away the food of the big cats' prey - a vicious circle and constant conflict between big cats and humans.
In Asia and also in Africa there are sanctuaries for the big cats. But these are often poorly guarded, so that lions, tigers and the like become victims of illegal hunters.
The poachers sell skins and body parts on black markets in Asia. Because the fat from tigers and lions is still considered a remedy for all kinds of diseases in traditional Asian folk medicine. A superstition that is fatal for animals.
Trophy hunting of big cats in Africa is generally not prohibited. There are fixed hunting quotas that hunters must adhere to. And in some African countries, trophy hunting is an industry that should not be underestimated.
Scientists believe that responsible hunting has no impact on the overall big cat population. Species conservationists oppose this and say that the prerequisites for controlled trophy hunting are usually not met.
More than 80 percent of the big cats are now on the red list of threatened animal species. This makes them one of the most endangered animals on earth. Although humans have been fascinated by the powerful and elegant animals for centuries, they are responsible for the shrinking populations of the big cats.
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