Let’s talk about big cats – the honorary members!

Beside the five official members of the genus Panthera (Tiger, Lion, Jaguar, Leopard and Snow Leopard) there are five more cat species which do not quite fit into the ‘small cat definition’ as they are rather large and/or have very special features.

Today I present the last of the ‘large cat club’:

The Eurasian Lynx (Lynx.lynx) – After Pumas and Cheetahs they are the largest of the small cats and the largest cats living in the wild in Europe.

So here they are again: The members of the ’10 largest wild cat species club’: Tiger, Lion, Jaguar, Leopard, Puma, Cheetah, Snow Leopard, Eurasian Lynx, Sunda Clouded Leopard and Mainland Clouded Leopard.

I only have pictures for a few of the remaining 28 wild cat species, which I will post over the next few days.

But for tomorrow I have created an overview of the cat (Felidae) family tree, which I hope will be helpful to some of you.

That’s it about big and large cats!

#Christiansperkaphotography @christiansperkaphotography

🐦 NEW FOR BIRD LOVERS 🐦

@ChristianSperkaBirding

Many of my birder friends have ‘complained’ that most of my photography posts at @christiansperkaphotography are about mammals and only a very few about birds.

I have therefore decided to start a new Instagram account @christiansperkabirding and a new Facebook page http://www.fb.me/christiansperkabirding where 100% of all posts will be about birds.

Please follow either of them and feel free to share this information with anyone else who might enjoy my wildlife and bird photography. Thanks!

I will also create a ‘Birding Read-Only WhatsApp Group’ with the same posts in case any of you are not using social media but still would like to receive the picture posts. Just send me a message and I will add you to the group 😊

PS: The on-going bird quiz posts are separate and have nothing to do with this page.

#Christiansperkaphotography @christiansperkaphotography #thandasafari @thandasafari #pakamisagamereserve @pakamisagamereserve #krugernationalpark #mkuze #mkuzegamereserve #kruger @nashvillezoo #nashvillezoo

Let’s talk about big cats – the honorary members!

Beside the five official members of the genus Panthera (Tiger, Lion, Jaguar, Leopard and Snow Leopard) there are five more cat species which do not quite fit into the ‘small cat definition’ as they are rather large and/or have very special features. I will introduce these over the next few days. Today it is the ‘All Americas’ representative of the ‘large cat club’:

The *Puma* (Puma.concolor)

Pumas have a huge distribution range all the way from Eastern Alaska all along the west ist of the Americas to Patagonia (and in Florida). Due to this huge distribution range these elusive cats are known locally by many names (Mountain Lion, Cougar, Painter, Catamount, Puma, Florida Panther and many more). They vary very much in size. In the North and South they are quite large (up to 90kg for a male) but closer to the equator they are in average much smaller (up to 50kg for a male).

#Christiansperkaphotography @christiansperkaphotography

#nashvillezoo

Let’s talk about big cats – the honorary members!

Beside the five official members of the genus Panthera (Tiger, Lion, Jaguar, Leopard and Snow Leopard) there are five more cat species which do not quite fit into the ‘small cat definition’ as they are rather large and/or have very special features. I will introduce these over the next few days.

Today it is my two favorite cat species: The Clouded Leopards (Neofelis.nebulosa and Neofelis.diardi)

They have large, paws with adapted footpads for gripping branches. Specialized anklebones allow varied position for climbing, including climbing headfirst down trees. Another distinctive feature is their very long canine teeth. For a long time they were considered the ‘link’ between small and big cats. Today they are classified as big cats, but are still within their own genus. Neofelis with its two species the Mainland Clouded Leopard (Himalayas/SouthEast Asia/China) and the Sunda Clouded Leopard (Borneo/Sumatra) are considered arboreal cat species (living in trees).

#Christiansperkaphotography @christiansperkaphotography

#nashvillezoo

Let’s talk about big cats – the honorary members!

Beside the five official members of the genus Panthera (Tiger, Lion, Jaguar, Leopard and Snow Leopard) there are five more cat species which do not quite fit into the ‘small cat definition’ as they are rather large and/or have very special features.

I will introduce these over the next few days. Let’s start today with the fastest land animal: The Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus).

It is the only cat fully adapted for speed instead of power. It cannot roar and misses other big car traits. It is therefore classified in its own genus. I took this Cheetah portrait a few years ago at Thanda Safari.

#Christiansperkaphotography @christiansperkaphotography #thandasafari @thandasafari

Let’s talk about big cats IV

The five members of the genus Panthera are also called the ‘big cats’. Cat species number 4: The Leopard (p.pardus).

They occur in Africa and Asia and are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because Leopard populations are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, and are declining in large parts of their range.

Picture taken in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve.

#Christiansperkaphotography @christiansperkaphotography

Let’s talk about big cats V

The five members of the genus Panthera are also called the ‘big cats’. Cat species number 5: The *Snow Leopard* (p.Uni a).

They show various adaptations for living in a cold, mountainous environment. Its small ears help to minimize heat loss. Its broad paws well distribute the body weight for walking on snow, and have fur on their undersides to increase the grip on steep and unstable surfaces. Its long and flexible tail helps to maintain balance in the rocky terrain. The tail is also very thick due to fat storage, and is covered in a thick layer of fur, which allows the cat to use it like a blanket to protect its face when asleep.

This picture I took at the Zurich Zoo, Switzerland.

#Christiansperkaphotography @christiansperkaphotography

Let’s talk about big cats III

The five members of the genus Panthera are also called the ‘big cats’. Cat species number 3: The Jaguar (p.onca).

It is the only large cat native to the Americas. While the Jaguar closely resembles the Leopard, it is generally more robust, with stockier limbs and a squarer head.

#Christiansperkaphotography @christiansperkaphotography

Let’s talk about big cats II

The five members of the genus Panthera are also called the ‘big cats’.

This is one of my favorite portraits of large cat species number 2, the Lion (p.leo). There are only two subspecies, African and Asiatic Lions and they are the only gregarious cat species living in family groups.

#Christiansperkaphotography @christiansperkaphotography

Let’s talk about big cats …

The five members of the genus Panthera are also called the ‘big cats’. The next few posts will feature my favorite portraits of each species.

Today I start with the largest living cats on earth: Tigers (P.tigris). Six subspecies (Bengal- , Sumatran-, Amur-, Indio-chinese-, Bengal-, South China- Tigers) still exist in the wild and all of them occur ‘naturally’ only in Asia even if some of these magnificent creatures have also been released in some game reserves in South Africa.

I took the portrait of this Bengal Tiger in 2012 at the Nashville Zoo, Tennessee, USA.

#Christiansperkaphotography @christiansperkaphotography #nashvillezoo @nashvillezoo