Big Cat Month is back! National Geographic WILD’s annual programming stunt returns with brand new premieres and legacy favorites – all in celebration of nature’s fiercest felines.
With visually stunning and powerful stories from around the world, we get closer than ever before to lions, tigers, cheetahs and leopards, as we delve into their triumphs, defeats and epic struggles to survive.
A Whole month dedicates to BIG CATS (Not Sheep!)
- Most leopards are tan or orange with distinctive black spots, dubbed “rosettes” because they are shaped like roses. These marks work as the perfect camouflage. A leopard’s rosettes are quite similar to a jaguar’s, but they are not the same. Leopard spots have no little dots inside, which is typical in a jaguar’s coat.
- Even though leopards are not the fastest of the big cats, they are still extremely quick. In very short distances, they can reach up to 59 Kms per hour, but perhaps their most surprising skill is their jumping power; more than 6 metres horizontally and 3 vertically. They also climb trees to store their prey and prevent robberies. Heavy carcass? No problem, leopards can carry up to three times their weight!.
- The piece of land leopards call home can be quite large. Their territories can vary from 4 km2 to 100 km2. The main factors that determine the size of their territories are related to environment and prey density variables. A female's space is usually significantly smaller than a male's, up to one-third of the size.
- Lions have experienced tragic decline in the last half century. Where once there were 450,000 lions on the continent of Africa, now there may be fewer than 20,000.
- An adult lion can eat about 45 Kg of meat in a single sitting.
- A male lion will start to roar at around 1 years old and females will start shortly afterwards. A lion's roar is the loudest of all the big cats and can be heard up to 8km away.
- An adult male lion can weight over 226kg.
- Hunting and habitat loss have cut cheetah numbers to critical levels. Where just a century ago, there were over 100,000 cheetahs on the continent of Africa, now there are not much more than 7,000.
- Cheetahs are the worlds fastest land animal, sprinting to a top speed of over 105 Km/h. Except for an extinct European cousin, cheetahs are probably the fastest terrestrial mammal that has ever lived.
- Even short-distance sprints exhaust the cheetah, and it typically rests, catching its breath and cooling off, for at least half an hour after making a difficult kill.
- As a cheetah races at top speed, the temperature of its body approaches dangerous, near-deadly levels.
- Just as a snowflake or a fingerprint, the beautiful design of a tiger's striped coat is totally unique. Another surprising fact is that this majestic pattern is not only printed on their coat, but also on their skin. These patterns can be used to identify every single tiger on earth.
- Tigers can eat up to 27 Kgs of prey a night. With good reason, these carnivores are the biggest in the big cat family; weighing up to 326 Kgs. They will travel many miles to find their favorites snacks: deer, water buffalo, wild pig and antelope. Fortunately for us, we are not one of them - tigers avoid humans.
- Most people tend to think that all felines hate water. Actually, this is not true. Tigers feel comfortable splashing in the water, which is really bad news for animals like water buffalo. Water doesn't create an obstacle to successful hunting. In fact, water is one of their preferred hunting grounds.
BIG CATS NEEDS BIG ACTS (Initiative)
The situation of big cats is no longer urgent; it is simply dramatic. At National Geographic, we are aware of the need to take action, by creating and designing all that is required to ensure that the future of big cats is not under threat.
That is how the Big Cats Initiative came about, an initiative that revolves around one central idea: big cats need big actions. A campaign that not only involves raising awareness, but also financing research and projects aimed at preserving big cat species, whose future depends, more than ever, on us.