The second largest of the big cats, lions once lived throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe. Of all the big cats, lions are the laziest, spending 16-20 hours each day in sleeping or resting. They live very complex social lives and are usually found in the company of others. As Africa’s human population has increased, lion habitat has decreased. At the same time, the increased livestock necessary to feed the human population has led farmers to kill lions frequently in order to protect their source of income. Over half of Africa’s lions have been killed over the past 20 years.
Of all the big cats in the world, the leopard is the most elusive, uncommonly visible to prying humans. At the same time though, they are the world’s most wide-spread big cat and live in the most varied habitats. Today, their numbers are relatively strong, in the hundreds of thousands, but in recent years worldwide they have lost 75 percent of their habitat. 75 percent.
Widely known as the world’s fastest land animal, the cheetah can reach a speed of 70 mph. Female cheetahs live alone or with their young and male cheetahs live in small family groups. They require large areas of land in order to survive and as a result have been the hardest hit of the big cats by Africa’s ballooning human population that has led to loss of habitat. Today, only 10,000 survive.