We go from the huge tiger to the tiny wild cat that looks like it could be a house cat! This is the Andean Cat, and before 1998, the only evidence scientists had that it existed at all was two photographs. This small mountain cat is so similar in habitat and appearance — preferring high altitudes and its body shape and coloring — that it is considered the tiny version of the snow leopard. But unlike the snow leopard, there is far less conservation funding to help this cat. The Andean Cat Alliance and the Small Cat Conservation Alliance are the two groups mainly helping this felid species. Fewer than 2,500 are thought to exist today, with a declining population due to a loss of habitat and prey, and due to hunting for traditional ceremonial purposes.
The Clouded Leopard has been in the news recently because it has been declared extinct in its native Taiwan. After over a decade of searching, researchers couldn’t find a shred of evidence that the cat still lives in the country. Thankfully, the species still exists in other areas of Southeast Asia, though total numbers are estimated to be less than 10,000. Because of this, they have been listed as vulnerable to extinction (not endangered, but close to it), since 2008. The main threats against them, of course, are human-made — habitat loss from large–scale deforestation, and commercial poaching for the wildlife trade.
You wouldn’t think the king of the jungle would be in danger of disappearing but indeed, even this most iconic animal, the African Lion, is listed as vulnerable to extinction. Thankfully, it is not yet endangered but it is rapidly approaching that status. Because of habitat loss and conflict with humans, most lions are now found in eastern and southern Africa, with their numbers in serious decline. Between 30-50% of lions have been lost in the last two decades alone, and there are now only around 47,000 (at the very highest estimates) still living in the wild. Conservation groups are working to not only preserve habitat so that lions have enough room to hunt and roam, but also to provide people with tools and knowledge for how to coexist with these big cats and reduce the number of deaths due to snaring. Hopefully we can keep this cat from making it onto the endangered species list.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Photo Credit: Jim Sanderson
Photo Credit: Martin Pettitt
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