The 21st century is marked not only by new technologies but also by an ever growing number of extinct and endangered animals. Apart from the extinct animals we will never see, these rare felines are so few since they are either threatened by loss of habitat or they have suffered from rare color mutation. Take a look at the rarest animals in the world!
The Maltese Tiger
The Blue tiger was reported mostly from the Fujian Province of China, being characterized by a bluish fur with dark stripes. The Maltese tigers have been reported as a subspecies of the South Chinese tiger, that is critically endangered. A blue tiger cub was born in 1964, in the Oklahoma Zoo, but died in its infancy. There are no blue tigers in zoos or private collections, and no known blue tiger pelts.
The Golden Tabby Tiger
The golden tiger has its white coat and gold patches due to an extremely rare colour variation caused by a recessive gene. Around 30 tigers are believed to exist in the world but many more are carriers of the gene. Records of the golden or strawberry tiger date back to the 1900s, in India. The first golden tiger cub born in captivity was in 1983 and this came from standard colored Bengal tigers.
The Iberian Lynx
The world’s most endangered cat in terms of species, out of the total of 36, stands on the edge of extinction. Despite all the efforts to save it, only around 100 felines remain, divided between two unconnected breeding populations in Andalusia. The Lynx’s extinction that will soon follow will be the first extinction of a world feline. This is due to the decimation of the rabbit, its favorite prey, by diseases such as myxomatosis and VHD. Rabbits make up 75-100% of lynxes’ diet, the cat only needing one a day. The Iberian Lynx currently holds the record for being world’s most threatened species of cat, and the most threatened carnivore in Europe.
The Amur Leopard
This is the rarest subspecies of leopard, and closely competing for the title of the rarest cat on Earth. Amur leopards are very distinct from other leopards, having long lengs and hair, which allows them to live in cold areas. It is threatened by habitat destruction, being especially vulnerable to fires since they live in forested territories. Field survey data estimates that there are fewer than 50 leopards left in the wild and around 200 in captivity, mostly found in zoos in North America and throughout Europe. On April 16, 2007 a female was shot and killed by hunters, leaving only six females left in the wild.
The White Lion (Panthera leo krugeri)
For centuries, rumors about the white lion spread from South Africa all over the world. It was not until 1975 that actual sightings confirmed this mysterious cat’s existence. Two white lion cubs were brought at the Timbavati Game Reserve next to Kruger National Park. Even if they are provided with the best living conditions, the mortality rate for white lions is quite high. They have difficulties in catching their prey and they are extremely vulnerable to hyena attacks. The white color is explained by a rare color mutation, namely a recessive gene known as chinchilla or color inhibitor, perpetuated by many zoos in the world. The population of the white lion is not exactly known but the most recent count was in 2004, showing that 300 were alive at the time.
The Black Lion
Another rare color mutation is the the black lion, not considered a distinct species or geographic race. Although many sightings have been reported, only two reliable reports exist. The archaeologist Sir Henry Layard discovered one in Persia, describing it as “very dark brown in colour, in parts almost black.” A black lion was held in captivity, but the coloring was probably due to mosaicism or abnormal skin cells. Other very vague claims of reddish and chocolate brown lions also exist, but they remain only claims. The African in the picture is has an uncommon dark color for that big cat but does not display melanism.