11 Jul Big Cats and Water
You would be surprised to know that big cats do not like to dip in the water, especially those that live in scrub forests, savannas, and hot and cold deserts. In India, we have six big cats that inhabit diverse habitats. They are:
- Snow Leopard
- Clouded Leopard
- Common Leopard
- Asiatic Lion
The snow leopard thrives in cold deserts where all you have is frozen water and scant rivers. Snow Leopard are not water-loving cats. The clouded leopard is arboreal and has never been seen to swim. The common leopard also never swims but occasionally dives to pursue its prey. The Asiatic Lion like its African cousin does swim across the rivers but that is all. This also applies to Cheetah which has been recently translocated into India. Other smaller cousins of big cats belonging to the order Felidae also approach water only to quench their thirst.
The only water-loving big cats are the tiger and the jaguar the latter found in South America. It is the tiger that loves water. Snow Leopard ,Clouded Leopard , Common Leopard and species having migrated from the extremely cold climates of Siberia and neighboring China has still not gotten used to heat in India. It probably entered India ten thousand years ago and most settled in Sunderbans in West Bengal hence the British named it the Bengal Tiger.
In the contemporary era, the tiger has still not gotten used to the heat, and in summer they are hapless creatures. Thus, whenever you visit a tiger reserve in the summer you will find tigers in waterholes, rivers, ponds, and cemented saucers made by the forest staff.
To beat the heat these snow leopard stay inundated in water for hours and make it easy for the tourists to get their first sight of this big cat. Visitors enjoy these moments that make their tiger safari memorable.
Even in spring and early summer when it is not that hot these big cats take a dip in the water and roll around. This cools their bodies, and the droplets that get enmeshed in their fur keep their bodied cool for a long time.
When you come across such moments of snow leopard in water you will enjoy the sight. If you come across the sight of a tiger’s behaviour in water we would like to read your account.