Friday, 8 April 2016

The big cats of India

This week is Big Cat Week at Cats Protection, so in honour our Himalayan trek and tiger conservation experience in 2017, we’re discovering the big cats of India.

As the Kanha National Park served as inspiration to author Rudyard Kipling when writing The Jungle Book – and the same park will be visited by participants in our challenge event – we thought it’d be fun to find out some facts about the real big cats in the story.

Black panther - Bagheera

Black panther resting on a log
Photo by barrasa8 via flickr / Creative Commons
Did you know...

  • The panther is not actually a separate species of big cat, the general name is used to refer to any black-coloured feline of the big cat family, most notably leopards and jaguars. A panther is usually either a black leopard in Asia and Africa, known as Panthera pardus, or a black jaguar in the Americas, known as Panthera onca
  • The word in Hindi: बाघ / bāgha means ‘tiger’
  • A panther’s dark skin means they are better camouflaged and so more likely to survive, reproduce and it helps them to hide and stalk their prey more easily
  • Black panthers are one of the strongest climbers of all cats and are capable of leaping up to 20 feet from trees to catch prey
  • Like domestic cats, the panther is a solitary animal that leads a nocturnal lifestyle. They spend most of daylight hours resting safely high in the trees
  • Panthers have emerald green eyes
  • Panther cubs are born blind and do not open their eyes until they are nearly two weeks old
  • Depending on the environment they are in, typical prey includes deer, antelopes, wild boars, warthog, tapir, rabbits and birds

Bengal tiger - Shere Khan

Did you know…

  • The word Shere (or ‘shir’) translates as ‘tiger’ or ‘lion’ in Persian, Urdu, and Punjabi, while Khan translates as ‘sovereign,’ ‘king’, or ‘military leader’ in a number of languages including Pashto
  • Tigers live alone and are powerful nocturnal hunters that will travel many miles to find their prey including buffalo, deer, wild boar, cattle and other large mammals
  • No two tigers have exactly the same stripes
  • A hungry tiger can eat as much as 60 pounds of meat in one night
  • The Bengal tiger’s average life span in the wild is between eight and 10 years
  • A tiger's roar can be heard as far as two miles away
  • Bengal tigers can weigh up to 500 pounds for a full grown male and about 310 pounds for a full grown female
  • Despite being the most common of all the tiger species, there are thought to be around 2,000 Bengal tigers left in the wild

If this has whet your appetite, why not sign up for Cats Protection’s Himalayan trek and tiger conservation experience? It offers a unique opportunity to challenge yourself while raising vital funds for your local Cats Protection branch or adoption centre.

To find out more or register your interest in the trip, visit or email

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