Big cats are some of the most vulnerable mammals in the world, with many species facing extinction. This list includes cheetahs, lions, tigers and other felines which live in wild savannas or other parts of the world. In the last few thousands of years, many species went into oblivion due to global warming, habitat loss and the expansion of humans on their territory.
The first one on the list is the American cheetah, which despite its name, was not a cheetah but more closely related to cougars. It had a slim, slender body, and it was an agile hunter. It lived in the grasslands of North America, and it was very fast. But even with all of these attributes, it went extinct almost 12,000 years ago after the last Ice Age, and after humans began to spread all over the world like a disease.
The Bali Tiger was a gorgeous and majestic creature, worthy of fairy tales and myths. It was native to the island of Bali, as the name suggests, and it went extinct just fifty years ago, due to humans and our unsafe lifestyle. For thousands of years it co-existed with the locals, but then Europeans arrived and ruined the whole balance by hunting them for their luxurious coat, and to protect their homes and livestock.
Another big cat that has sadly disappeared from our planet is The Cape Lion or Panthera leo melanochaita. Although its place within the genus is often criticized by some naturalists, it was still a reputable hunter that couldn’t be avoided. It was a common sight in South Africa for hundreds of years, until the late 19th century when it stopped being spotted by cat-watchers.
This next name might confuse some of you, but that doesn’t mean this species didn’t exist. The European Lion comprised of three species, rather than just one. They were larger than the average big feline, as they weighed around 400 pounds with females being larger than males. They were even used for combat in the infamous Roman arenas.
There is another Indonesian tiger that shares the same sad history as its brother, The Bali Tiger. It lived just on the exotic Java Island, which is part of the Indonesian archipelago. Unlike its counterpart, it wasn’t hunted down to extinction, but the loss of its natural territory made the species starve to death, as the human population on the island exploded in the mid 19th century. The last specimens were spotted two decades ago, and there’s still hope that the species might not be completely extinct.
It’s unlikely that we will ever get these big cats to make a comeback, even with the genetic experiments that are very talked about these days. Extinction should be a lesson to us, Homo sapiens, that we have to take care of our environment and to respect the animals’ right to be on the same Earth that we are inhabiting.