6 Big cats facing extinction
It is well known that many of the big cats we know and love are under threat of extinction such as the Tiger and African Lion. However, there are some lesser known species of big cat that may die out before we know anything about them.
Bornean Bay Cat
The Bornean Bay Cat is a little-known species that might become extinct before we even know about it. The Bay Cat is only found in Borneo and is rapidly dying out due to deforestation for oil palm plantations. Approximately 2,500 of the Bay cat exist now and this number is in decline.
Most species of the tiger, such as the Bengal, are under threat through loss of habitat and from hunters killing for their skin and body parts with useful medicinal properties. There is no evidence to support these medicinal properties, however the black market trade in tigers, living and dead, still thrives.
This small mountain cat is often referred to as a tiny snow leopard, with similar colouring, body shape and both prefer high altitudes. But we have far less conservation funding to help the Andean Cat. Due to prey and loss of habitat, less than 2,500 are believed to exist today. Unfortunately the Andean Cat is also hunted for traditional ceremonial purposes.
The Clouded Leopard
The Clouded Leopard has been declared extinct in its native Taiwan. Although the species still live in some areas of Southeast Asia, there are less than 10,000 in existence. They are under threat of endangerment due to large scale deforestation and commercial poaching for the wildlife trade.
In the last twenty years, the lion population has declined by 30-50% due to habitat loss and human conflict. There are approximately 47,000 now living in the wild. Fortunately there are conservation groups helping to preserve lion habitats, providing tools and knowledge for how to coexist with lions in peace.
The Marbled Cat is another small ‘big’ cat, referred to as a mini version of the Clouded Leopard. There are fewer than 10,000 left in South and Southeast Asia, falling victim to snaring for its bones, meat and fur even though the hunting of this cat is prohibited in many countries. Loss of habitat due to deforestation is also a huge threat to the tree-dwelling Marbled Cat.