is for – Flounder, Fulmar, and Felines. We’ll look at Felines.
I will say up front, I am not a ‘pet’ person so I don’t have a cat, or any other domestic animals – however, of all the creatures in the natural world the big cats are my favourites.
In the world of cats apart from the domestic variety which is numerous in sub-species, there are also the smaller cats, like Wildcat (various countries of origin), Serval, Civet, Ocelot, Caracal and many others.
We then move on to the big cats, which include the Lion, Tiger, Cheetah, Leopard, Puma, Lynx, Jaguar, Snow Leopard, and Black Panther.
In this special post I’d like to highlight my top three which are the Cheetah, Tiger, and Lion.
Species: Cheetah – the fastest land animal. This beautiful creature can attain speeds up to 70mph over a short distance (100 yards). It has a streamlined body, long tail for balance, and dark stripes from inner corner of the eyes to the mouth (thought to have evolved to prevent sun-glare).
Size: Body bulk is more akin to a domestic Greyhound than a Labrador. The Cheetah can reach up to 6ft from nose to tail.
Habitat: Wide open plains and savannahs.
Location: In a few African countries in the wild, but many more in private parks and game reserves. A small number exist in Iran where they are a protected species. They were once found across most of Africa, India and, southern Asia.
Diet: Small birds and animals. Favourites include the Impala and, Thompson’s Gazelle (with the distinctive black diagonal stripe on the flank).
Predators: Mankind is the front-runner (ironically with this creature) – although he uses a rifle, traps, or poison. The adults can fall to hyenas or lions. A cheetah must kill and, eat quickly before the larger animals turn up to steal the carcass. Cubs can be taken by eagles.
Info / Strange Fact: Unlike other cats, the cheetah cannot retract its claws.
Species: Tiger – the largest of the big cats. The sub-species are Bengal, Siberian, Sumatran, Indochinese and, South China.
Size: Siberian Tigers are the largest sub-species. Like all tigers it has a bulky body, which is not surprising at 1,000lbs. It can reach up to 10ft in length from nose to tail.
Habitat: Hot jungles, woodland and, ice-cold forests.
Location: Russia, India, China, Southern Asia and, Sumatra (an island species).
Diet: Cattle, wild pigs and deer are the primary food source, although smaller game will be taken when the need arises.
Predators: Mankind. Hunting was a primary reason, but has now been overtaken by ‘poaching’ to secure the skin and body parts for ‘medicinal’ purposes.
Info / Strange Facts: Many stories are told of ‘man-eating’ tigers. Like any big cat, these creatures become ‘man-eaters’ for a few simple reasons. The animal is too old, infirm through injury to hunt the preferred prey. It can also occur because the tiger’s massive hunting territory/ habitat have been destroyed. On occasion it is purely the need to survive and to a tiger – a human is a meal.
Species: Lion – the most commonly named in everyday language. Although not the largest of the big cats, the lion is undoubtedly the ‘King’, complete in the case of the males with his huge mane.
There is still a small number (200 – 300) of the sub-species Asiatic Lion
*The lion appeared on eggs as a quality stamp for many years.
*MGM films feature a roaring lion in the opening sequence of their films.
*‘The lion’s share’ is an everyday phrase which stems from the lion having first rights to the meal.
*‘The lion’s den’ is still widely used as a euphemism for going into a dangerous environment (including interview scenarios).
*‘Feed him to the lions’ usually means a theoretical ‘sacrifice’ of an individual – like an employee being used as a scapegoat.
Size: Up to 420lbs and, up to 9ft in length from nose to tail. The male lion’s mane creates the illusion to an opponent that the animal is larger or heavier than it is.
The Asiatic Lion is smaller in size and the male has a smaller mane with less of a crown.
Habitat: Open plains and savannahs.
Location: Africa and India (the almost extinct Asiatic Lion).
Diet: Zebra, Giraffe, Wildebeest (Gnu), Deer, Buffalo, larger antelopes like Kudu and Ibex and baby Elephants.
Predators: Not surprisingly, mankind is the main opponent to the lion’s survival.
Info / Strange Facts: The lionesses are usually the hunters and supply the meals, but the males play the role of protector of the pride and its territory. The male lion’s mane creates the illusion of the animal being bigger, but this massive growth of hair also acts as protection when there is a duel between two male lions. It prevents teeth or claws reaching the neck.
In the tuft of a male lion’s tail is a small horny growth, which is as yet unexplained.