marți, 17 mai 2011


The tiger (Panthera tigris), a member of the Felidae family, is the largest of the four "big cats" in the genus Panthera. The tiger is native to much of eastern and southern Asia, and is an apex predator and an obligate carnivore. The larger tiger subspecies are comparable in size to the biggest extinct felids, reaching up to 3.3 metres (11 ft) in total length, weighing up to 300 kilograms (660 pounds), and having canines up to 4 inches long. Aside from their great bulk and power, their most recognisable feature is a pattern of dark vertical stripes that overlays near-white to reddish-orange fur, with lighter underparts. The most numerous tiger subspecies is the Bengal tiger, while the largest is the Siberian tiger.
Tigers have a lifespan of 10–15 years in the wild, but can live longer than 20 years in captivity.[8] They are highly adaptable and range from the Siberian taiga to open grasslands and tropical mangrove swamps.
They are territorial and generally solitary animals, often requiring large contiguous areas of habitat that support their prey demands. This, coupled with the fact that they are indigenous to some of the more densely populated places on earth, has caused significant conflicts with humans. Three of the nine subspecies of modern tiger have gone extinct, and the remaining six are classified as endangered, some critically so. The primary direct causes are habitat destruction, fragmentation, and hunting.
Historically, tigers have existed from Mesopotamia and the Caucasus throughout most of South and East Asia. Today, the range of the species is radically reduced. All surviving species are under formal protection, yet poaching, habitat destruction, and inbreeding depression continue to threaten the tigers.
Tigers are among the most recognisable and popular of the world's charismatic megafauna. They have featured prominently in ancient mythology and folklore, and continue to be depicted in modern films and literature. Tigers appear on many flags and coats of arms, as mascots for sporting teams, and as the national animal of several Asian nations, including India.


The gray wolf or grey wolf (Canis lupus), often known simply as the wolf, is the largest extant wild member of the Canidae family. Though once abundant over much of Eurasia, North Africa and North America, the gray wolf inhabits a reduced portion of its former range due to widespread destruction of its territory, human encroachment, and the resulting human-wolf encounters that sparked broad extirpation. Even so, the gray wolf is regarded as being of least concern for extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, when the entire gray wolf population is considered as a whole. Today, wolves are protected in some areas, hunted for sport in others, or may be subject to population control or extermination as threats to livestock, people, and pets.
Gray wolves are social predators that live in nuclear families consisting of a mated pair which monopolises food and breeding rights, followed by their biological offspring and, occasionally, adopted subordinates. They primarily feed on ungulates, which they hunt by wearing them down in short chases. Gray wolves are typically apex predators throughout their range, with only humans and tigers posing significant threats to them.
DNA sequencing and genetic drift studies reaffirm that the gray wolf shares a common ancestry with the domestic dog. A number of other gray wolf subspecies have been identified, though the actual number of subspecies is still open to discussion.
In areas where human cultures and wolves both occur, wolves frequently feature in the folklore and mythology of those cultures, both positively and negatively.


Fox is a common name for many species of omnivorous mammals belonging to the Canidae family. Foxes are small to medium-sized canids (slightly smaller than the median-sized domestic dog), characterized by possessing a long narrow snout, and a bushy tail (or brush). They are also well known for being incredibly cunning.
Members of about 37 species are referred to as foxes, of which only 12 species actually belong to the Vulpes genus of "true foxes". By far the most common and widespread species of fox is the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), although various species are found on almost every continent. The presence of fox-like carnivores all over the globe has led to their appearance in both popular culture and folklore in many cultures around the world (see also Foxes in culture). The gray fox is one of only two canine species known to climb trees; the other is the raccoon dog.


Bears are mammals of the family Ursidae. Bears are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivorans, with the pinnipeds being their closest living relatives. Although there are only eight living species of bear, they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats throughout the Northern Hemisphere and partially in the Southern Hemisphere. Bears are found in the continents of North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.
Common characteristics of modern bears include a large body with stocky legs, a long snout, shaggy hair, plantigrade paws with five nonretractile claws, and a short tail. While the polar bear is mostly carnivorous and the giant panda feeds almost entirely on bamboo, the remaining six species are omnivorous, with largely varied diets including both plants and animals.
With the exceptions of courting individuals and mothers with their young, bears are typically solitary animals. They are generally diurnal, but may be active during the night (nocturnal) or twilight (crepuscular), particularly around humans. Bears are aided by an excellent sense of smell, and despite their heavy build and awkward gait, they can run quickly and are adept climbers and swimmers. In autumn some bear species forage large amounts of fermented fruits which affects their behaviour.[1] Bears use shelters such as caves and burrows as their dens, which are occupied by most species during the winter for a long period of sleep similar to hibernation.
Bears have been hunted since prehistoric times for their meat and fur. To this day, they play a prominent role in the arts, mythology, and other cultural aspects of various human societies. In modern times, the bear's existence has been pressured through the encroachment on its habitats and the illegal trade of bears and bear parts, including the Asian bile bear market. The IUCN lists six bear species as vulnerable or endangered, and even least concern species such as the brown bear are at risk of extirpation in certain countries. The poaching and international trade of these most threatened populations is prohibited, but still ongoing.