In many parts of the world, there is only one creature that commands fear and respect among all living things: Big Cats – the mightiest land predators that ever walked this Earth.
Did you know?
- Most of the world’s 5000 or so tigers not in captivity are Bengal tigers; there are some 3500 to 4500 still living in the wild. Of these, more than 80% live in India, with much smaller populations also scattered across neighbouring Bhutan, Bangladesh, Mayanmar and Nepal.
- The Bengal tiger’s coat provides excellent camouflage in a variety of habitats. The vertical black stripes break up the tiger’s outline, making it difficult to spot as it moves through the light and shade of the forests, grassland or reedbeds.
- The Smilodon, better known as the sabre-toothed tiger, was not really a tiger, in fact, it wasn’t even a true cat. It belonged to a group of carnivores called nimravids, which roamed the Earth from 1.6 million years ago until as recently as the last Ice Age, 11000 years ago.
- Tigers have keen eyesight and their night vision is six times as good as humans’. They also possess superb hearing and an acute sense of smell. Scent is used to track prey and as a means of communication – tigers recognise each other by smell and use scent to mark their territory.
- Accidental breeding between tigers and lions in captivity has produced two remarkable hybrids. The lion-sired ‘liger’ has a lion’s mane and a tiger’s stripes. Over three metres long, it can reach speeds of 80km/h. The tiger-sired ‘tigon’ is smaller.
I could mention so many other facts about Big Cats, but I better stop there. I hope all Big Cat lovers and Little Cat lovers learned something new today.
This article was written by Elizabeth Mulliss, and the main image is thanks to Bharat Bolasani, 2010