Endangered Wild Cats of the Rainforest
Due to the territorial habits of many big cats, they require a large amount of land. Many cats, including the Florida Panther, are being affected by the deforestation that occurs as we make more cities across the world. The more land humans inhabit and the more forests we cut down, the less area these big cats have to roam. Cats that are most affected by deforestation are those who live in the rainforest. Many of these cats have become endangered and some even extinct. These large feline creatures are all magnificent animals, yet are also dwindling in their population. There needs to be a change to save these beautiful creatures.
In the wild, a jaguar can live anywhere from 11-15 years. Jaguars are the largest of the South American cats, weighing around 100-250 pounds. They measure 5 to 6 feet from head to rear, with their tail being around two and a half to three feet long.
They used to be found in the southern part of the United States near the Mexican border, although now they are only found in South and Central America. Unlike most cats, they love the water and are mighty swimmers. They often will live near rivers where they can catch fish or turtles, although they prefer to eat deer, capybaras, and tapirs. They are very athletic and can climb trees as well.
Like the ocelot, they are becoming endangered due to their need for large areas of land, and they need to live alone. Unfortunately, they are not well-protected by laws, despite that there are laws in place to protect them. They have gorgeous fur that is very distinctive that are coveted by poachers. Most jaguars are tan or orange with black spots. Although there are darker jaguars that appear to be spotless, if you look closely, you will notice that they do have the rosette-shaped markings.
Another danger a jaguar encounters is that ranchers often will kill them when they see a jaguar on their land because jaguars are notorious for killing livestock.
Photo of Ocelot
Ocelots are the smallest of the big cats at about 24 to 35 pounds. The body length is around five feet, the tail being a third of that length, with the females being slightly smaller. The ocelot lives in the US in Arizona, south Texas, and lower Rio Grande Valley. They also live in Central America and South America. They usually like to be near water or marshes, rather than in an open field.
In the 1960s and before, many would sell ocelots as pets to those in the United States. Many of these animals would die during transport or because of the lack of care. Fortunately, this is illegal now. It is also illegal to sell their fur for trade. Twenty ocelots are needed to make one fur coat. Hunting them for their pelt is a significant reason why they became endangered. Although their biggest threat is not killing nor capturing, it is that their land is being taken over by human civilization.
Because they are solitary and territorial, they need a lot of land to survive. A male will need around 20 square miles to live and will not overlap territory with another male ocelot, which is why the habitation of humans is threatening their species.
Sumatran Tiger Photo
The Sumatran tiger, aka the Indonesia tiger, is one of the rarest of all tigers and considered critically endangered with less than 400 in the wild. They only live on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Not only are they the rarest, but also the smallest of the tigers, weighing 165 to 308 pounds.
They are becoming extinct in large part due to deforestation, as well as poaching. Indonesia has placed stringent laws protecting these beautiful animals. Unfortunately, poachers manage to kill many each year regardless. Poachers will often sell tiger parts and products in the black market in Sumatra and the rest of Asia. In 1978, they estimated that there were one thousand Sumatran tigers left in the wild, which shows you the vast decline in a little over 30 years, which is more than double of how many are still alive in the wild today.
Bengal Tiger Photo
Information on Bengal Tigers
Bengal tigers have relatively short lives. They live about 8 to 10 years in the wild. They are also the largest members of the cat family, even bigger than lions. They are very powerful and weigh anywhere from 240 to 500 pounds. Their tails are two to three feet long, while their bodies are twice that at around 5 to 6 feet long. Along with their muscular bodies, they have powerful voices that extend as far away as two miles.
There used to be eight subspecies of tigers. Three have become extinct in the last one hundred years, due to hunting and destruction of the rainforest. There are less than 2,500 Bengal tigers left in the wild. Over a hundred years ago, there were hundreds of thousands of these beautiful beasts.
Bengal tigers live in India and are also known as Indian tigers. They are the most common of all tigers, making up half the amount in the world today, which is why it is a shame that even the Bengal tigers are on the endangered species list.
Like their ocelot and jaguar relatives, they also live alone and need a large amount of land to survive. They eat buffalo, deer, and wild pig. They usually live with their mothers for the first two or three years, which is a large percentage of their lives.
How To Save Endangered Animals
With so many endangered animals, we must take care of our world. We need to make sure that we are recycling when possible. Many schools in your area may have recycling programs where they recycle paper. Some even will recycle tin cans and other items.
Also, make sure to use as few wood products as possible, to prevent any further deforestation. One way to avoid using products from trees is by using things that are reusable, such as using a towel rather than paper towels when drying your hands. As a result of the tree byproducts that you cannot prevent from using, make sure to plant trees that will make up for the ones you use.
There is only so much that you are capable of doing on your own. Many great organizations help endangered animals. One of my favorite organizations is the Worldwildlife.org, where you can adopt an animal of your choice. You not only are giving money to research in helping that animal, but you also receive a photo of your animal as well as some great facts.
Read National Geographic's latest stories about animals.
- TerraNature | Terra Nature Fund - saving New Zealand biodiversity
Land and marine conservation, New Zealand ecosystem protection, native habitat restoration, endangered species protection
- Wild Mammals Science Articles Index - Current Results
Articles summarizing scientific research results about wild mammals including endangered species and forest wildlife.
- WWF - Endangered Species Conservation | World Wildlife Fund
World Wildlife Fund - The leading organization in wildlife conservation and endangered species. Learn how you can help WWF make a difference.
Questions & Answers
Do ocelots live in the Amazon rainforest?
They actually live throughout South American rain forests, and even the grasslands of Texas. Although they can be found in the Amazon rainforests, they do not strictly live there.Helpful 2
Are there little wild cats in the rainforest?
In Borneo, there is the Bay Cat and the flat-headed cat, which are both about the size of a domestic cat. Also, there is the Oncilla, which is often thought of as a little tiger is about the size of a domestic cat, and may sometimes weight even less. They live in the rainforest.Helpful 2
Do jaguar and cheetah live in the Amazon rainforest?
Jaguars actually live all over. Some can even be found on the North, Central, and South American continents, but yes, most do live in the Amazon rainforest as well. Cheetahs, on the other hand, live mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. They like dry land, as opposed to the rich Amazon rainforest.Helpful 1
What's the relationship between large and small cats?
All cat species have very similar structures and behaviors. They all are predators that eat meat. One unique big difference between small cats and big cats is that there is a hyoid bone, which connects the tongue to the roof of the mouth. In big cats, this area is elastic, whereas, in small cats, it is hard all over.
Scientifically, they all are part of the Felidae family. Ironically the subfamilies are not split into big cats and small cats. There is the Panthera, which includes tiger, lion, jaguar, and panters. The other is the Felinae, which includes domestic cats, but also bobcat, cougar, cheetah, and ocelot. Theses are all smaller than the Panthera group but are not all considered small cats.
Have you ever seen any of these animals in person?
I have never seen any of these in the wild, but all of them in various zoos.
© 2012 Angela Michelle Schultz