When we think of big cats here in North America, we think of the mountain lion, and maybe a bobcat or two. Over in Africa, life is a bit different. They have to think of several large and dangerous cats, and each of them pose a danger to some degree or another. Here is a look at the big three in Africa, and how they fit into the African landscape:
Cheetah – The cheetah is the smallest of the three biggest cats in Africa, but do not let that fool you. They are long and lean, and they are the fastest of all land animals. They are very much in danger in their natural habitat, as any Lion or Leopard poses a serious threat. This is particularly so for the Cheetah cubs.
The cubs are protected to some degree by the mother cheetah, but even the mother has no chance against a lion. As such, the cheetah must depend on their speed and cunning. Fortunately, they have plenty of that to go around. Watching a cheetah stalk and take down prey is much like watching your house cat stalk a bird or mouse.
Leopard – The leopard is one of the most regal and secretive of all the big cats. They are absolutely powerful, and much stronger than the smaller cheetah. Still, they are second fiddle to the lion. As such, they have mastered the art of climbing trees to avoid such confrontations. Amazingly, they can carry freshly killed carcasses up the tree with them to dine at their leisure.
They are absolutely spectacular to look at. Leopards have a coat that is covered in black spots. This coat helps them to stay hidden amongst the weeds. Many call the leopard the ghost of the African plains because they are rarely seen. It is spooky, however, to know that they are there in spite of their invisibility.
The Lion – The lion is quite simply put the top of the food chain. This does not mean that the lion is impervious to all animals – a large rhino or elephant can certainly do some damage. It does mean that there are no land animals that actively hunt and kill lions with the lone exception of man.
When the lion goes to the water holes on the African plain, they are at danger from the huge crocodiles. Outside of that, the lion roams the plains as the King. He is also the most social cat of the three.
They live in prides that are made up of several females and usually one or two males. They hunt and rest in tandem, and resemble a grand family. The lion is the king of African animals, and has no close second place contenders.
While there are other cats in Africa such as servals and caracals, these three are the primary cats of Africa. They are world famous because each of them serve a special purpose in the food chain. It is interesting to note how they interact with one another, as there is a clear pecking order.