Each of Africa’s big cats are fascinating, and they’re all very different from each other. Africa’s big cats include the leopard, known for it’s secretiveness, the cheetah, which is the fastest land animal, and the King of the Jungle, the mighty lion.
We are going to look at some the famous wild cats found in East Africa for those that love with to go on safari to Africa.
Inhabiting the plains of East Africa, the lion, dubbed as the King of the jungle due to its brave nature as a predator is the second largest cat after the Tiger. It’s been estimated that the largest male lion is about 250kg, with the largest female about 168kg; both male and female have the strength to bring down a huge buffalo up to four times their own size.
Lions have short fur of an ocher color, with tufted tails. Males also have a mane around their heads and necks, composed of long darker brown or black fur. For those interested in watching lions track their prey, one of the best opportunities is during the Masai Mara Kenya migration, where enormous numbers of zebra and wildebeest trek thousands of miles while being pursued by predators such as lions.
The lion, unlike many big cats, is a social creature. Lions live in prides of up to 15 members, usually comprised of 5 to 10 females, their young, and a couple of territorial males. The role of the males in the pride is to protect the females as they hunt for food and raise their young.
Leopards are large cats known for their spotted fur, they tend to have ocher colored fur, but it can be quite dark or even black. It’s often hard to spot a leopard, as they’re shy and solitary creatures who are good at hiding themselves, something that’s helped by their climbing and swimming ability, they also live in very diverse conditions compared to many other species of big cat.
Leopards have large territories, and tend to move around their territories regularly, meaning they’re rarely in the same place for more than a couple of days at a time. Leopards mark their large territories with their urine and claw marks, and will let other leopards know of their presence in an area by making a rasping cough-like noise.
Lions and hyenas have been known on occasion to take away a leopard’s kill but thanks to its tree climbing abilities the leopards store their larger kills in trees where they can feed on them in relative safety.
Cheetahs are the fastest land animal, and have been known to reach amazing speeds of up to 120km/hr over short distances of usually less than half a kilometer. This amazing speed is achievable due to the physiology of the cheetah which includes large nostrils, and an extra large heart and lungs, which are able to circulate oxygen efficiently during the chase, where cheetahs may take as many as 150 breaths per minute.
There are only about 12,000 cheetahs remaining in the wild now, most of which live in the eastern and southern parts of Africa. To see cheetahs in the wild, it’s usually necessary to visit somewhere like Tanzania’s Serengeti national park, or Kenya’s Maasai Mara game reserve.
To see big cats in their natural habitats, Kenya and Tanzania are great countries to visit. One will be spoilt for choices on what type of tour to go for as they enjoy the scenery in East Africa. These can include Kenya camping safaris, luxury safaris, beach based safaris among others.