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14 Most Endangered Big Cats In The World

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Big cats are beautiful wild animals that are frequently endangered or in a vulnerable state to become extinct. The term refers to any animal that belongs to the feline species such as the lion, cheetah, puma, leopard, jaguar, amongst many others. We have gathered information about 14 of these magnificent creatures which are nearing extinction.

endagered big cats

Each one is different from the other: having spots, stripes, unique prints, and colors. Big cats belonging to the feline species are fierce, strong and aggressive. 

They are carnivores who hunt other animals, and sometimes humans, to feed their hunger. Some even refer to leopards and tigers as man-eaters. Humans are under threat from jaguars and lions as well.

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There are many reasons why these animals are going extinct. These species have unique printed fur which is in great demand, used by humans in the fur trade. 

Since they are a threat to human beings, they are often hunted to protect mankind from potentially dangerous circumstances. 

We as humans must protect and preserve these species. Below is a list of the most endangered big cats around the world.

14 Most Endangered Big Cats

#1 Snow Leopard

snow leopard endangered animals

Appearance:

The Snow Leopard wears a white and gray fur coat, having small black spots on their head and neck area. Such spots are known as rosettes as they form a rose-like pattern on their body. In contrast, the fur on their belly area is white. Their eyes usually have beautiful shades of green and gray. It is a large animal whose weight ranges from 22 to 55 kilograms, although males frequently are weighted recorded at 75 kilograms.

Distribution:

Usually found in higher elevated areas having cold temperatures, they mostly reside in Central South Asia in the region of the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau’s alpine and subalpine areas. 

Level Of Endangerment:

Fewer than 10,000 mature leopards is the current estimation of their population. Further, this number will probably decline 10% in the next two decades according to conservationists.

Diet:

Being a carnivore, it hunts other animals such as Himalayan blue sheep, wild goats, markhor, and other domestic animals to feed itself. 

#2 Fishing Cat

Appearance:

Fishing cats have a gray-yellowish fur coating on their body. What distinguishes them though is their two dark-colored stripes on their cheeks and forehead which continue till the back of their neck. Longitudal spots cover the rest of their body, save for their lightly-coloured belly. They are medium-sized cats with females weighing 5-9 kilograms while the males can weigh from 8 to 17 kilograms. 

Distribution:

They mainly reside in the region of South East Asia. Wetlands, swamps, and low land areas constitute their typical habitat.

Level Of Endangerment:

Due to environmental changes and damaged wetlands, fishing cats have lost their habitat. Consequently, it is now believed that fishing cats are in fact extinct as scientists are unable to determine their remaining quantity in existence. 

Diet:

Since they live near wetlands therefore their primary source of diet is mammals, domestic livestock, and fish.

#3 Iberian Lynx

Iberian lynx endangered animals

Appearance:

This big cat has a yellow-orange toned fur consisting of differently sized dark colored spots. Some spots are round and others are elongated. Other than its signature tufted ears one can recognise it by its short body, small head and long legs. Females weigh about 9-10 kilograms while the males are larger than the females with their weight ranging between 7-15 kilograms. 

Distribution:

This cat was once popular in the region of the Iberian Peninsula. Later the population extended to the north and south, reaching as far as northern Portugal and southern Spain. They mostly reside in open grasslands and dense shrubs. 

Level Of Endangerment:

Considering the very low number of 400 mature individuals left they are clearly nearing extinction. Although they are growing in number they still oftentimes become victims to cars on the road, aggressive dogs, and human hunts. 

Diet:

Iberian lynx is trained to catch and feed on rabbits. 90% of their diet consists of rabbits, due to which they fell prey to the outbreak of many diseases. Luckily, conservatory measures are now taken to preserve these species. 

#4 Flat-Headed Cat

Appearance:

Flat-headed cats are easily identified as they have a compressed skull. The shape of the head is more cylindrical than a local cat commonly seen on the streets. Compared to the domesticated cat they have extremely large canine teeth which are more than twice the size of their cousin’s. They have thick red-brownish fur with a white spotted underbelly. Another distinctive feature is the lighter color of their face in comparison to the body.

Distribution:

These cats are mostly found on the southern side of Peninsular, Sumatra, Thailand, Malaysia, and Borneo. In these areas, they form their habitat in tropical rain forests. Preferring to stay nearby the availability of freshwaters, they usually occupy new lowlands or coastal areas. 

Level Of Endangerment:

These species are on the verge of extinction as the population of flat-headed cats is 2500 mature cats. Following the tragic destruction of wetland areas due to commercial repurposing of the land,these cats are losing their habitats and are becoming endangered.   

Diet:

Since these cats reside near wetlands, the primary source of food is fish and frogs. Otherwise they also consume various rodents, birds, and fruits. 

#5 Borneo Bay Cat

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Appearance:

The color of the bay cat is a vibrant chestnut tone having a darker and more reddish tail. Only their round ears are coated with black fur. It has a small round head with two black lines extending from its eyes to the back of the head. Interestingly the genders do not differ notably, all mature bay cats weigh about 3-4 kilograms.

Distribution:

Very rarely spotted by humans, it was first seen and caught in 1992 as they were secluded on the island of Borneo. Rainforests, swamps, and lowlands are their preferred habitat. If they are sighted, it is usually near rivers.

Level Of Endangerment:

Sadly they have earned a spot on the endangered red list as there are only 2500 bay cats currently remaining. As they are exclusive to the region of Borneo Island this specie is rare and declining in population.

Diet:

Being carnivorous, these cats feed primarily on rodents, monkeys, dead animals, and birds.

#6 Tiger

tiger endangered animals

Appearance:

Tigers are extremely big cats with a muscular exterior. Just like the rest of their body their head is very large, it also has a long tail. Except for their white bellies, their fur come in various shades of orange with latitudinal black lines on their body. These lines form a pattern that is unique to each tiger. Male tigers weigh from 90-300 kilograms. Meanwhile females are slightly smaller, weighing from 65-167 kilograms. 

Distribution:

The Tiger prefers forested areas and are mostly seen in South and Southeast Asia. Commonly, they prefer to form their habitats in high or lowland forests. 

Level Of Endangerment:

These tigers are mostly distributed in forests. Historically, humans have fallen prey to these wild animals. Therefore, they have been hunted in great numbers by humans to prevent their areas from tiger attacks. 

Another reason for their endangerment is many people’s belief that various body parts of the tiger can cure insomnia, epilepsy, and even pimples. However, there is no scientific backing to prove this theory’s authenticity. Likewise the exotic skin of the tiger is sold at a very expensive rate. Therefore, only 3900 mature tigers are left in the wild. 

Diet:

Because tigers are large animals they similarly attack and consume large animals. These include horses, deer, buffalos, goats, and sometimes even humans. 

#7 Andean Mountain Cat

Appearance:

This mountain cat has ashy-toned gray fur on its body, a gray-colored head and a round face. Two characteristic dark-colored lines on their face extend from their eyes to their cheeks. They are small-bodied animals with a weight of around 5-6 kilograms.

Distribution:

These cats are mostly found in highly elevated areas of the Andes. Impressively, they are able to survive on elevations as high as 1800 meters. 

Level Of Endangerment:

Unfortunately these cats are on the red list of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). Currently only 1500 mature cats exist, this number is drastically decreasing which makes them highly endangered.

Diet:

Because they reside at higher altitudes they feed on small birds and mammals along with lizards and waterfowl. 

#8 Clouded Leopard

clouded leopard endangered animals

Appearance:

This big cat has dark gray colored fur with black blotched-like patterns covering the entirety of its body. Likewise they have spots on their head and ears. Moreover, two black stripes run on their face from the corner of their eyes to the length of their cheeks. Their weight ranges from 11-23 kilograms. 

Distribution:

Countries where they are usually sighted Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Thailand, and Malaysia. Dry tropical and elevated semi-green forests constitute their typical climate.

Level Of Endangerment:

Due to having a population of less than 10,000 mature leopards, which is declining in a great number, they are vulnerable to endangerment. How come? Because they are poached by humans for their body parts which are then sold for decoration and clothing. 

Diet:

These cats are carnivores that prey on small deer, pigs, monkeys, rodents, birds, domestic calves, and goats. 

#9 African Lion

lion endangered animals

Appearance:

We all know that the lion is the king of the jungle. Accordingly, they have a strong and muscular exterior with a big head and rounded bodies. Everyone is familiar with their iconic mane and the tip of their tail also has long hairs. Their light fur coating is a unique blend of colors – gray, brown, and red. Finally, their belly is lighter in color than its body. 

Lions are large animals whose females can weigh up to 118 to 143 kilograms. The males are relatively larger than the females weighing 186-225 kilograms. 

Distribution:

As the name indicates, African lions are found in regions of Africa. They form their habitats in grass-plains, scrubs, savannahs, and open woodlands having bushes.

Level Of Endangerment:

With only 23,000 lions still living in the wild these big cats are endangered and vulnerable to extinction. Resulting from their loss of homes, their number is constantly reducing. Lions pose a threat to humans therefore they are poached by humans in great numbers. 

Diet:

Large animals such as baby elephants, giraffes, rhinoceros, cheetahs, and buffaloes are their preferred diet. However, they also prey on smaller animals such as mice, wild dogs, hares, lizards, and birds. 

#10 Marbled Cat

Appearance:

The size of a marble cat is similar to a local domestic cat. But unlike the domesticated cat they have rounded ears and a long tail. Their fur coating is brown-gray with stripe-like patterns. Additionally, they also have spots on their tail and belly. They are very small in size, weighing between 2-5 kilograms. 

Distribution:

Although they are mostly found in the regions of the eastern Himalayas and southwest China, they also seen in the northeastern forests of India. Here, their habitat mostly includes tropical forests.

Level Of Endangerment:

With a number of 10,000 mature marbled cats still existing in the wild, their population is bigger than many endangered animals. Nonetheless, they are vulnerable to endangerment. A decrease in their numbers is seen because they fall victim to human hunting, which uses these animals for food, bones, and fur. Another reason is deforestation which is damaging their habitats.

Diet:

They like to feed on birds, and rodents such as rats, squirrels, frogs, insects, and bats.

#11 Black-Footed Cat

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Appearance:

The black-footed cat has an orange-brownish fur covered with black spots. The color of their head is darker than their body with majestic white whiskers. A few of the spots on the back and neck are longitudinal. As depicted in their name the underneath part of their feet is black, making them easily distinguishable.

Other than becoming extremely aggressive when cornered, they are very similar to domesticated cats. Potentially, they could give other larger wild cats good competition. However, due to their small size of 1-2,5 kg, they don’t.

Distribution:

Zimbabwe, Botswana, Angola and Namibia are the only countries in which it can be spotted. Usually, they prefer to form their nests in short and high grasses and bush covers. Unlike other small cats, the black-footed cat prefers to dig burrows to find shelter instead of climbing trees.

Level Of Endangerment:

Due to being endemic to Southern Africa they are vulnerable to extinction. Humans do not target them specifically but they often fall prey to traps planted by humans for other wild cats, causing them to be endangered. 

Diet:

Black-footed cats are meat lovers. Therefore, their diet consists of amphibians, insects, birds, spiders, and rodents. 

#12 Cheetah

cheetah endangered animals

Appearance:

Although the cheetah is a big cat has a light build. They have a brown-grayish fur coating with black spots all over their body. Though what makes them particularly distinct is the black marks on their face resembling tear drops. Cheetahs are known for being the fastest animal. Thanks to their slender body they can obtain a speed as high as 130 km/h. Their weight ranges from 21-72 kilograms. 

Distribution:

Cheetahs do not associate themselves with a specific land but with areas where they can easily find their prey. Their choice for habitats is open lands that have open visibility and bushes where they can hide and hunt their prey. 

Level Of Endangerment:

Sadly, they are vulnerable to extinction as only 6674 cheetahs are left in the wild.Like many other cats they are endangered due to their commercial value to humans. Because selling their fur is highly profitable they have fallen prey to human hunting, severely reducing their numbers.

Diet:

Cheetahs are carnivores and target petty to middle-sized animals.

#13 Amur Leopard

amur leopard endangered animals

Appearance:

Amur Leopards are distinguishable from other leopards due to the color of their fur. Specifically their heavy pale-cream-colored fur with dark rosette patterns which covers their body. Their weight ranges from 25-48 kilograms.

Distribution:

Primarily, they are found in Russia and China on elevated grounds. They can survive in cold climates and snow. Typically, they form their habitat where sika deer are present in numbers whom they can prey on. 

Level Of Endangerment:

They are on the red list of endangerment as they are rare cats only sighted in Russia and China. Back in 2015 the remaining population was calculated to be less than 60 leopards. Following the adaptation of conservatory approaches though, the number thankfully increased to 90 leopards in 2019.

Diet:

They are carnivores who like to feed on deer, rodents, and boar.

#14 Iriomote Cats 

Appearance:

Their fur coat has a blend of colors with darker shades of gray and lighter shades of brown. They have lighter-colored hair underneath their body. They have dark brown spots on each cheek and longitudinal stripes from the neck to their backs. Their weight ranges from 3-5 kilograms. 

Distribution:

These cats exist in a very specific part of the world – the Japanese Iriomote Island. This island provides subtropical green forests with mildly elevated lands in the area. Usually, they prefer to form their habitat near forest edges, rivers, and areas with low humidity levels.

Level Of Endangerment:

They have been on the red list due to serious endangerment of its kind. The remaining population of these cats is only 250 adults, which is continuously declining. This small number makes them one of the most endangered cats on this list.

Diet:

They are meat eaters and prefer to eat small animals like rats, frogs, bats, snakes, fish, and crabs.

The Final Word

The above-mentioned big cats are among the most magnificent creatures of nature. They are agile carnivores which possess different traits and characteristics. These cats are spread world-wide in their designated regions but have on thing in common: being endangered. 

Conservatory measures are taken to preserve their kind and increase them in number. However, this preservation is hard to achieve due to high deforestation and human hunting. 

In many areas hunting of these beautiful animals is prohibited. But, their fur comprises unique patterns which are sadly in high demand for decoration and clothing.

Even though these animals are dangerous, they should not be hunted down but preserved in their natural habitats. Specific measures can be adopted to ensure that humans and above mentioned wild cats can coexist without harming one another. Here are a few tips you can adopt to co-exist with wild cats around you. 

Thank you for reading this article! If you are a fellow feline-lover you will definitely enjoy our article on The Best Places to See Lions as well.

 

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