Each big cat has its own unique qualities and characteristics that set it apart from the others. For some, it is their size and weight, while for others, it is terrain, behavior, population numbers, or other factors.
Tigers hold the status of being the largest big cat in the world, male Siberians reaching up to 660 pounds, but unfortunately, they are also the most endangered. They live in a number of different places all across the globe, from Indonesia to Siberia; however, most of the tigers that remain today can be found in India. The WWF (World Wildlife Fund) estimates that there are approximately 3,900 tigers left in the wild currently.
The second largest of the big cat family is the lion. Just a bit smaller than the Siberian tiger, lions are divided into two major types, Asiatic and African. Asiatic lions are endangered and can only be found in one location – a national park in Gujarat, India. Unlike other big cats, lions do not live or hunt solitarily. Living in groups called prides, lions are actually social animals, and hunting together helps them capture larger kills.
The largest big cat in North America is the jaguar. Similar to leopards, they have spotted coats that help them with camouflage, but black jaguars are common as well. Even though they are one and the same, black jaguars are often referred to as black panthers. A near-threatened species, jaguars can be found all over, from the southern United States, to Argentina and Brazil. Another quality that makes them special is that unlike other cats, they actually love water.
Leopards inhabit the most expansive surface area of all other big cats, living in locations that range from eastern and southern Asia, to the entire continent of Africa. However, their population is still being threatened, and they appear as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. While many other big cats are revered for their massive size, the clouded leopard, contrarily, is the smallest member of the big cat family. The snow leopard is known for being the most mysterious and the most difficult to find of large cats. Rarest of all and only discovered in 2006, the Sunda clouded leopard claims the title of the least known big cat in the world.
All the mysteries and answers to questions about big cats can easily be found online, along with steps you can take to actually visit and/or help these amazing animals.