The Big Cats of East Africa
The most charismatic of all the animals that roam the savannas of East Africa are the big cats. Safari enthusiasts exercise great patience and go to great lengths to ensure a sighting. To behold the beauty and splendour of the big cats in the wild is a prospect that warms the heart of every nature lover. Among a number of the ancient civilizations – the Romans, Sumerians, and Egyptians- the big cats were held in fascination and in higher esteem than any other wild animals. Some were indeed taken as gods, and many are the kings who have set images of the big cats on their royal emblems.
The big cats have in the past been more widely dispersed in the world than they are today. In our time, the redoubts of the big cats are in Africa and small pockets of Asia. The cat family is known by scientists as felidae and refers to an assortment of animals grouped as small and big cats. The small cats are less well known and appreciated. In East Africa small cats include wild cats, sand and serval cats. The small cats are very widespread in almost all habitats in East Africa. But they keep their heads down and elicit little conflict with man- the ultimate enemy of all wild animals.
The big cats you find outside Africa include tiger, jaguar, leopard, cougar and Iberian lynx. The big cats are the most committed carnivores in the entire animal kingdom. They are mostly nocturnal and rather secretive in nature. In common with primates, they read a lot from facial expression and love to play. The big cats capture and kill their prey. To witness a lion on a hunt is truly fascinating- if for a moment you take your mind from the fate of the prey. For all the fame of the big cats of East Africa, there are just three of them: lion, leopard and cheetah.
The lion, so called the king of the jungle, is the largest carnivore in East Africa. The adult lion stretches between 1.4m to 2.2 m – excluding the tail. The male can attain a weight of up to 225kg, while the hefty female reaches 168kg. The lion is noted for its exceptional strength