The Best Places to See Wild Cats Around the World
Big cats are some of the most majestic animals on Earth thanks to their elegance and adorable features, but sadly their numbers are dwindling. Thanks to habitat loss, poaching, and generally just human beings, there isn’t one species of these beautiful creatures that isn’t under threat.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of good people and organisations working to save wild cats, but just in case, you’d better check them out while you can. Here’s five places you can see big cats around the world, just make sure to pick an ethical tour provider!
Tigers in India
If it’s big cats you’re after, they don’t come any bigger than the tiger, with males reaching up to 10ft in length and weighing up to a whopping 600lbs. Still, despite its impressive size tigers are also the most endangered big cat, with less than 4,000 left on the planet.
Although, tigers can be found as far afield as Siberia and Vietnam, the majority of those left live in India, where Bengals are the country’s national animal. So, it’s here you should head if you want to see these striped beauties, particularlyTadoba National Park in Maharashtra, India’s oldest and largest national park.
Jaguars in Brazil
With the strongest jaws of all the wild cats, jaguars are master hunters that enjoy stalking their prey rather than chasing them around. This also means they’re pretty damn good at hiding and difficult for would-be sight-seers to spot (no pun intended). However, thePantanal in Brazil, the world’s largest flood plain, is known for it’s jaguar sightings.
It’s recommended visitors go at the end of the dry season in October, when the floods have withdrawn and left behind a lush and varied environment of swamplands, forests and savannahs - perfect for attracting this beloved beast! Fun fact: Most people mistake black panther for a separate breed, but they’re actually just leopards and jaguars with black fur!
Leopards in Sri Lanka
Leopards look a lot like jaguars but are smaller and lighter in form, with their famous spots smaller in size and closer together. Out of all of the wild cats, these cuties most resemble the kind you’ll find snuggling up on your couch thanks to their movements and behaviour. Leopards possess a unique climbing ability, which helps them survive in environments alongside other big cats and predators.
They also have the widest circulation, ranging as far as Africa and Eastern and Southern Asia. Sri Lanka’sYala National Park is considered one of the best places to spot a leopard, with almost guaranteed sightings of the felines. Zambia is also popular, particularlySouth Luangwa Park.
Cheetah in Namibia
As cheetahs hunt during the day rather than at night, they are one of the easier species to spot, despite being the world’s fastest land mammal. The largest population of cheetahs can be found in Namibia, but as they have plenty of space to roam it’s best to search for them while on a game drive.Okinjima Lodge practically guarantees sightings, as the site rehabilitates cheetahs through the AfriCat foundation. You can even go on a guided tour called “Walking with Cheetahs!”
Lions in Kenya
The second largest of the big cats, lions are also the most social, living in groups or “prides” rather than hunting alone. As they work together they don’t rely on camouflage as much as other species of wild cats and are generally easy to spot. Although the number of lions is declining in Africa due to habitat loss, one place they seem to be thriving is theMasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. In fact, the Olare Motorogi conservatory on the outer edges of the park has one of highest populations of lions in the whole country!