Which is bigger lion or tiger

Big cats: the epitome of the predator

Where do lions and tigers come from?

Anyone who thinks that lions are native to Africa is wrong. The common ancestors of the lion and the tiger lived in Europe, Africa and Asia. These early species diverged: the lions in the west probably gave rise to the "cave lion type" of the late Ice Age, and the eastern species the tiger. Presumably it was not until 200 AD that the last lions disappeared from Europe. Lions and tigers can still mate and some of the mixed breeds are still able to reproduce.

Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) are critically endangered: only in a small protected area in the Indian state of Gujarat are around 200 specimens still alive today. The Asiatic lions differ from their African relatives by their smaller size and their sparse or missing mane.

In Africa, wild lions can now be found in the area south of the Sahara. Their preferred habitat are the open expanses of the grass steppes. Although not acutely threatened with extinction, the population of animals living in the wild is only guaranteed in protected areas. In the other regions of Africa it is decreasing, as a steadily growing population increasingly demands its original habitats. Of the numerous subspecies, two are already extinct: The very large Berber lion (Panthera leo leo) North Africa and the impressive Cape Lion (Panthera leo melanochaita) were exterminated by humans over 80 and 140 years ago.

What is the male lion's mane used for?

Like all cats, lions fight their rivalry less by biting their opponent than by trying to strike him hard with their clawed paws. The male lion's eye-catching mane is ideal for catching paw blows on the head and neck, which is particularly important for the pack animals that are often involved in fights. Incidentally, the cheeks of the males of other cat species are also protected by thick hair pads.

Recent research has shown that the length of a mane is not only genetically determined, but also provides information about the habitat and social status of the wearer. Lions in low-lying, extremely hot areas have a sparser mane than their fellow lions from higher regions. Even in younger male lions that wander around and have not yet conquered a pack of females, the mane is usually poorly developed.

What is the difference between male and female lions?

The most obvious distinguishing feature is probably the male lion's characteristic mane, which adorns their head and sometimes their stomach. In addition, male lions are 30 to 50 percent larger and heavier than females: adult male lions can weigh up to 250 kilograms. With a body length of almost two meters and about one meter shoulder height, the mostly yellow-brown colored animals are imposing figures. With one blow of their exceptionally strong front legs, they can break the neck of their victims.

By the way: the preferred prey animals of lions include zebras, river pigs and warthogs, and when food is scarce, they do not disdain birds or insects.

Do lions live solitary or in a pack?

Lions are the only cats that usually live gregariously in larger packs that have a fixed territory of around 100 square kilometers. Up to ten females and four males form a pack, whereby the females stay together for a lifetime, but the males are replaced by new ones every few years. While the hunt is the job of the females, the males defend the territory together, especially against wandering conspecifics. Female pups stay in the pack, the young males have to leave it between the ages of two and three years. Until they reach sexual maturity around the age of five, the young lions roam the steppe as solitary animals or in small groups. Then they try to compete with older lions for a pack of females.

Do tigers attack people particularly often?

No. Only rarely do individual old and injured animals specialize in the relatively easy-to-beat "two-legged prey". Nevertheless, the tiger is said to be an "ogre eater" more often than other big cats: A tigress, the so-called ogre-eater of Champawat, is said to have killed 430 people during her 15-year life. In many places the big cat was persecuted by humans because of the perceived danger. Usually, however, the tiger avoids being close to humans. Confrontations often only occur because people go into the tiger's territory. Most of the time, however, the tiger also tries to run away.

How severely threatened is the tiger's habitat?

Very. More and more forest areas are being used for agriculture and forestry: The clearing of the rainforest that is necessary for this is systematically destroying the tigers' habitat. Of the former eight subspecies of the tiger, only five still exist today: Bengal tiger, Sumatra tiger, Indochinese tiger, Siberian tiger and South China tiger, which is on the verge of extinction.

The Siberian or Amur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) is the northernmost and largest subspecies and the largest wildcat at all. Its long fur protects it from the cold winters when the temperature can drop to -40 ° C. The distribution area of ​​the "ruler of the Ussuri-Taiga" is now limited to an area of ​​just 156,000 square kilometers along the Amur in the far east of Siberia. Around 450 Siberian tigers live on Russian territory today, ten to 20 specimens are suspected in the neighboring countries of China and North Korea. Numerous international nature conservation organizations are fighting for a future for animals.

The King or Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), which is almost the size of the Siberian tiger, is primarily native to India. Thanks to various protection programs, its populations have now grown back to 4,000 to 5,000 animals. The Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is still the only species of tiger on the Indonesian archipelago today, Java and Bali tigers have already been exterminated. 400 to 500 Sumatran tigers have survived in protected areas to this day.

Why are tigers hunted?

Because tiger hunting has a long tradition in India and the rear of India. It was considered by the grand princes, the maharajas, to be a form of hunting that was appropriate to their status. Large numbers of drivers combed the dense jungle on foot in search of tigers. This was very dangerous for the drivers, but less so for the riflemen, as they were relatively safe high up on riding elephants. The British colonial rulers took over this sport of the upper class in the 19th century, which had devastating effects: Some Indian nobles, British officers and officials killed up to 1,000 of these big cats within a few years. The Maharajah of Sulguja boasted that he had killed a total of 1157 tigers.

After conservationists had drawn attention to the dramatic decline in tigers in India - in 1972 there were only 1,800 Bengal tigers left - the Indian government placed the animals under protection in 1973; since then, tiger hunting has been banned. Unfortunately, tigers are still being poached because in traditional Chinese medicine, practically all of its body parts can be made into drugs and a lot of money can be earned with it. Although tiger parts have not officially been allowed to be used in Chinese medicine since 1993, tiger products are still sold all over the world.

Are all white tigers albinos?

No, white tigers are not albinos, but a mutation that is also called "chinchilla" - not to be confused with the rodent family "chinchillas". They have an ivory to white fur with brown stripes; Her eyes are blue.

All white tigers living in captivity today - including the world-famous ones from Siegfried and Roy's shows in Las Vegas - go back to a progenitor from India. "Mohun" was caught in 1951 by the Maharajah of Riva (India) and further bred. He was mated with a normal colored female. Although the offspring were normally colored, crossing the male with one of his daughters resulted in white offspring.

How do tigers live?

Like all cats, tigers live in territories, the size of which varies greatly depending on the abundance of game. They are loners, whereby the territory of a male can overlap with that of the female. They create hiding places in crevices, fallen trees or small rock caves, which they pad with dry leaves or grass. A tiger often has several resting places that he uses alternately.

Unlike lions, tigers hunt alone. The nocturnal big cats sneak up as close as possible to the victims, only to overwhelm them with a bite in the neck or throat after a jump or a short spurt.

The tiger rutting season usually falls in winter or spring. This is also the time when most of the fights take place between the males, who otherwise respect each other's territories. After a gestation period of about 100 days, the tigress usually gives birth to two to four young. They usually stay with the mother for two or three years, but in the north there are also four to five years. Since the females avoid contact with male tigers while they are still raising young, they only mate every three to five years. Decimated stocks are therefore only recovering slowly. Tigers rarely live to be more than 15 years old in the wild.

Where are leopards common?

Of all big cats, the leopard has (Panthera pardus) the largest distribution area: It occurs in over 20 subspecies in Africa and Asia. He inhabits the entire African continent, with the exception of the desert areas as well as North Africa and the Cape Country. In Asia it is distributed over Asia Minor and the Middle East, southern Southwest Siberia, the whole southern part of Asia to Java as well as Korea and large parts of China and Southeast Siberia. However, its population has decreased significantly, so that it can no longer be found in many areas where it was still common 100 years ago.

Leopards are very adaptable and have accordingly conquered a wide variety of habitats: They can be found in the dry savannas and rainforests of Africa and the jungles of India as well as in the cool forests of the Amur region. Their adaptability also means that some leopard species do not shy away from living near human settlements. However, people are very rarely attacked by them, while domestic dogs and other pets are occasionally torn down, which does not make the big cats particularly popular with the local population.

Why can the leopard sneak up practically silently?

Because the leopard's heavily padded toes and balls of the feet dampen its stride and thus enable it to creep silently. In addition, the leopard is the smallest big cat with a body length of up to 1.50 meters (excluding the tail) and a weight of up to 80 kilograms. The delicacy of its body structure supports the leopard's almost noiseless gait.

Which prey animals does the leopard prefer?

In principle, the leopard adapts its menu to the local food supply: it hunts large antelopes, deer, zebras and wild boars, but also consumes birds and reptiles or insects when no other prey is available.

Leopards particularly like offal, which is why they actually eviscerate the dead carcasses by first eating the heart, liver and kidneys, and also removing the remaining intestines. They either drag the remains of the meal to their young animals or up a tree to keep them safe from food competitors such as hyenas or lions. The leopard is also able to carry away prey that is significantly heavier than itself.

By the way: leopards spend their lives solitary, they inhabit territories that are between 30 and 50 square kilometers in size. The territory of a male and that of a female can partially overlap. The big cats become active when it starts to get dark and hunt well into the night. From a tree or other elevated point, the hunter carefully searches the surrounding area for prey. When it has discovered suitable prey, it sneaks as close as possible to the animal, jumps at the victim and kills it with a bite in the throat.

Does the female leopard raise the offspring alone?

Not at first, because unlike tigers and jaguars, female and male leopards stay together even after mating. Most of the time, the male even takes part in procuring food and rearing the young. After a three-month gestation period, two to five young are born, of which usually only one or two animals survive. After three months they accompany the mother on the hunt and learn all the important hunting techniques from her. They kill their first small animals when they are just one year old. The offspring does not leave the mother until she is two years old when she looks for a new partner. Leopards live to be around 15 years old in the wild.

Why is so little known about the snow leopard?

Because this big cat is almost always on the move in rough terrain in the high mountains, their preferred habitat, and it is very difficult to follow their tracks there or to observe them. The snow leopard (Uncia uncia) is native to twelve Central Asian countries - including Afghanistan and Mongolia.

We certainly know of the snow leopard that when hunting in its territory, which is often more than 100 square kilometers in size, it often has to cover long distances. Its prey animals include ibex, sheep and musk deer, but also birds. He kills his victims by biting their throats. Snow leopards are typical loners. Males and females only come together during the mating season and to raise the young.

Can you confuse a jaguar and a leopard?

Yes, because the jaguar and leopard look very similar at first glance: Both cats have a brownish yellow coat that is dotted with dark rosettes. But only in the Jaguar do the rosettes surround small dots. It also has a plumper and more muscular body than the leopard and a shorter tail.

In the wild, however, you will not be embarrassed to confuse the animals because they inhabit different continents: the jaguar is the only big cat in America. It was once widespread in the forests of the lowland regions of Central and South America and can even be found in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. In the south of the USA, in almost all of Mexico, large parts of eastern Brazil and Argentina, the elegant big cat is now extinct, its distribution is concentrated in the north and center of the South American continent.

Why are jaguars so different in size?

The size of the jaguars - they reach body lengths of 1.10 to about 1.85 meters - depends on their habitat. Animals that live in the dense rainforest of the Amazon basin are often only half the size of specimens that inhabit more open terrain. This is probably due to the fact that the prey of the jaguars in the steppe is often larger. Forest dwellers are also often darker in color, which offers them better camouflage in the rainforest, where the lighting conditions are not particularly good.

Can the jaguar really crack skulls?

Yes, the jaguar has extremely powerful jaws compared to other cats of its size, which enable it to kill its victims by piercing their skulls with a powerful bite. Even armadillos, which are among its main prey in some areas of the jungle, are not adequately protected by their armor made of horn plates.

In addition, like the brown bear, it is able to catch fish with its paw and often even preyed on caimans and turtles, whose carcasses it dragged away from the water and then hidden in the thick undergrowth.

By the way: The jaguar's range of prey is wide. The animals he hunts include large farm animals such as cattle and horses - this "preference" has earned him the hostility of the farmers - as well as deer, capybaras, tapirs, peccaries, larger rodents or reptiles, monkeys and fish.

How fast is the cheetah?

The Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) pursues its prey at top speeds of up to 110 kilometers per hour. It is therefore the fastest sprinter on the savannah and when it comes to speed, no land animal can match it.

Nature has provided the cheetah with the best equipment for this hunt.His slim, streamlined body is traversed by an extremely flexible spine, so that he can put his long hind legs well in front of his front legs in the sprint and cover a long distance with every set. Hard callouses with which the narrow paws are padded, and non-retractable claws enable it to start quickly: within two seconds it can reach a speed of 60 kilometers per hour - even a Ferrari does not accelerate faster! Large nostrils and lungs provide the hunter's muscles with sufficient oxygen during fast sprints. And the long tail, stretched far back, acts like a balancing bar when changing direction quickly.

By the way: female cheetahs usually have two to four cubs. At around two months old, the offspring accompanies the mother on the hunt, but initially as a spectator. The instruction begins from the seventh month.

Where did the Cape Lion live?

The Cape Lion (Panthera leo melanochaita) was once widespread in southern Africa from the Cape of Good Hope to Natal, where it was exterminated in 1858 and 1865, respectively. This large species of lion with a particularly impressive black mane, which also covered the belly, fell victim to human persecution, which affected the mass of large wild animals in South Africa: It was ruthlessly shot down in the first half of the 19th century. Above all, the lion, the largest predator that could be dangerous to humans and also kills domestic animals as prey, was hunted by all means. Today there are only seven preparations of the Cape lion worldwide: five from males and two from females. In Germany they can be admired in the State Museum for Natural History in Stuttgart and in the Municipal Museum in Wiesbaden.

By the way: The stately animal is probably known to some from cartoons; Scar from Disney's "The Lion King" is a Cape Lion.

Did you know that …

do the big cats differ from the small cats by the completely hairy nasal mirror ("bridge of the nose")? In addition, large cats can roar, but not purr without taking a breath; the reverse is true for small cats.

the roar of the lion can still be heard up to eight kilometers away?

the tiger population has decreased dramatically since the last century? 100 years ago 100,000 tigers roamed the forests, today there are only around 6,000.

What do lions symbolize in different cultures?

In many cultures, lions are a symbol of power, courage and strength. Lions are already depicted on the Egyptian pharaohs tombs and in China a pair of stone lions have guarded palace and temple entrances for thousands of years. Lions also adorn as a protective symbol z. B. Temple gables and city gates.

In Christian iconography, the lion sometimes has a negative connotation, e.g. B. when he symbolizes Satan and Antichrist. At the same time he is assigned to the evangelist Mark.

In the Middle Ages, particularly valued or powerful rulers were honored with the nickname "the lion", including Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria (1129–1180), or Richard I, "Lionheart", King of England (1157–1199). The lion has also remained a popular symbol in modern times: In Germany, for example, it adorns the coats of arms of the federal states of Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Thuringia and Schleswig-Holstein.

Did you know that …

meanwhile more tigers live in zoos than in the wild?

an adult tiger needs around eight kilograms of meat per day and can eat up to 50 kilograms of meat in a single meal?

Did you know that …

the snow leopard is counted among the big cats, although he cannot roar, only purr? He owes this assignment to his incompletely ossified hyoid bone.

the leopard was exterminated in the Middle East?

the Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is most at risk and it is suspected that 50 animals no longer exist in the wild?

Are panthers and leopards different species?

No, both animals represent color variants of the same species. The black leopards, also known as black panthers, are found in Africa and Southeast Asia. They are particularly common in Asia: In the dense rainforests, the black color offers better camouflage when hunting.

The fur of the black panther shows the characteristic rosette pattern of the brown leopard. In the wild, black and spotted leopards breed together, with litters then consisting of both black and spotted cubs. It is a legend that black panthers are particularly wild and untamable - they do not behave any differently than their "normally colored" conspecifics.

What role does the jaguar play in culture?

Jaguars were and are to the indigenous peoples of Central and South America what the lion is to Africa and Europe: the most terrifying, but also most impressive predator on the continent. Its importance in mythology and popular belief was correspondingly great; many peoples revered the animal as a deity. Jaguar skins adorned high-ranking personalities such as the Mayan kings and the top warrior caste of the Aztecs.

By the way: The »Jaguar« is also popular as a brand name, it stands for luxury cars, but also for a game console, a computer operating system and a tank destroyer.

Did you know that …

the Guarani Indians Amazonia the jaguar (Panthera onca) gave the name »yaguara« (»animal that kills while jumping«)?

there are blacks in the jaguar too?

the cheetah can only maintain the exhausting speed of up to 110 km / h over a distance of 500 meters? If he has not hit the chosen victim by then, he must break off the pursuit.

Cheetahs are neither large nor small cats, but form their own subfamily, as they, among other things, cannot retract their claws?