The feline population has no worries of declining for the following years, however, their big cousins don’t share the same fate. There are organizations spending various efforts to save endangered big cats, but threats continue to risk their existence. Currently, there are five big wild cats listed in IUCN red list of endangered species.
Among the endangered big cats, Iberian lynxes was previously listed under the critically endangered species. Due to diseases and habitat loss, the population of these big cats declined drastically, going as low as a few hundred. But due to conservation efforts, lynxes have at least passed critical low. Hopes that this species will survive is not lost even if their survival currently means they have to live in captivity.
Andean cat is a rare big cat species that live primarily in rocky habitats. Many threats continue to risk the survival of this species. Agricultural expansion and climate change contribute to habitat loss. Hunting by local people also impacts this feline’s population. On a positive note, four South American countries where Andean cat population is endemic has been working on community-based conservation and legislation against lobbying. Another problem with Andean cats’ survival is their competition with Pampas feline. Pampas cats are small wild cats that are among IUCN’s near threatened list of felines. Due to habitat loss and other factors, there isn’t enough resources in the wild hence the competition between the two and the risk of extinction with Andean cats first.
Borneo Bay Cat
Among the endangered big cats, Borneo Bay Cats are one of the least studied wild feline species. Threats to their survival are poaching and habitat loss due to logging and oil palm plantation. This elusive cat species is endemic in the island of Borneo, thus their name. Indonesian Law has already passed a protection order for Bay Cats to help save this species.
Indonesian, Malaysian and Thai Law have addressed the risk of extinction of flat-headed cats native in their area. The main threats for this big cat species include clearance of coastal mangroves, excessive hunting, draining for agriculture, and human settlement. Conservation efforts like taking care of some mature flat-headed cats in captivity and helping with breeding can help save this species.
Quite the popular big cat cousin of domestic cats, tigers are also among the endangered species. Mainly found in the forests of Asia, the threats to this species are illegal wildlife trade and poaching. Various conservation efforts to improve the decreasing population of tigers are already active such as the Global Tiger Recovery Program. Organizations and governments in Asia actively support the conservation of this endangered big cat species.
Notably, human settlement and intervention is among the biggest factors to the survival of these endangered big cats. Whether it’s threatening or saving these big cats, humans have a lot of responsibility. For feline lovers, knowing about this issue can help with the conservation of big cats. Awareness can lead to more help and support in the prevention of wild cats’ extinction.