National Geographic : 2011 Dec
REMOVE POSTER HERE Clouded Leopard 2 Neofelis nebulosa Smallest of the big cats---males may reach 50 pounds---it has canine teeth as long as a tiger's. An acrobatic climber, it hunts in trees as well as on the ground in forests across Southeast Asia. Estimated wild population: 10,000 Population in zoos: 222 Status: Vulnerable Lion 1 Panthera leo The only wild cat that lives in large family groups once roamed all of Africa and into Asia. Tanzania has the greatest number of lions. Estimated wild population: 20,000 to 30,000* Population in zoos: 1,888 Status: Vulnerable *All wild cat populations are uncertain. Snow Leopard 4 Panthera uncia The "ghost of the mountains" is at home in the Himalaya and surrounding ranges of Central Asia. In 1971 this magazine was the first to publish photos of the elusive cat taken in the wild. Estimated wild population: 4,000 to 6,500 Population in zoos: 414 Status: Endangered Puma 5 Puma concolor Cougar, mountain lion, panther: The cat of many names ranges from Canada to the tip of Chile. It's returning to former lands in the U.S. Midwest, but overall population is thought to be falling. Estimated wild population: 30,000 (U.S. only) Population in zoos: 397 Status: Least concern Leopard 6 Panthera pardus The most widespread of big cats---found from Africa to Southeast Asia---it is most abundant in sub-Saharan Africa. Black leopards are often called black panthers. Estimated wild population: No reliable data Population in zoos: 853 Status: Near threatened Tiger 7 Panthera tigris No cat is bigger, with males topping 600 pounds. Three tiger subspecies have gone extinct since the 1930s. The Malayan (above) and four or five other subspecies hang on in Asia. Estimated wild population: Fewer than 4,000 Population in zoos: 1,660 Status: Endangered Jaguar 3 Panthera onca Revered as a god by the ancient Aztec and Maya, the most powerful predator in Central and South America weighs up to 250 pounds. It's the third largest cat, after tigers and lions. Estimated wild population: At least 10,000 Population in zoos: 365 Status: Near threatened REMOVE POSTER HERE Cheetah 8 Acinonyx jubatus The fastest mammal can sprint 60-plus mph. East and southwest Africa are its remaining strongholds; 70 to 110 live in Iran. Targeted by lions and hyenas, few cubs reach adulthood. Estimated wild population: 7,000 to 10,000 Population in zoos: 1,015 Status: Vulnerable Of the world's 37 species of cats, these eight reign as the big cats. All are top predators in their realm. All are losing ground. More people are living in their range. They face habitat loss, illegal hunting for skins and other body parts, and retaliatory killing when they prey on livestock. Yet conserva- tionists see hope, if there's concerted effort. As field biologist George B. Schaller writes, "The great cats represent the ultimate test of our willingness to share this planet with other species." PHOTOGRAPHED AT THE HOUSTON ZOO, HOUSTONZOO.ORG, AND AT MILL MOUNTAIN ZOO, MMZOO.ORG, ROANOKE, VIRGINIA SNOW LEOPARD SOURCES: IUCN; PANTHERA; INTERNATIONAL SPECIES INFOR MATION SYSTEM COPYRIGHT © DECEMBER 2011 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 8 CATS IN CRISIS . THE BIG CATS INITIATIVE IS DEDICATED TO HALTING THE DECLINE OF BIG CATS. TO LEARN MORE, VISIT CAUSEANUPROAR.ORG.