Lions & Tigers & Leopards...Oh My!

A 2nd Grade Informational Writing Unit

Big Cats Initiative

Our school has received a grant to help with the "Cause an Uproar" program, part of the National Geographics Big Cats Initiative.

For more information about the Big Cats Initiative, click the link below.

National Geographic also raises awareness by creating a "Big Cats Week." Much like "Shark Week" on The Discovery Channel, "Big Cats Week" presents all of the information of Big Cats and the problem of endangerment.

Lions, Tigers, and Leopards

This unit focuses on the research of Lions, Tigers, and Leopards. We will focus on the habitat, characteristics and adaptations, and prey and predators of each big cat.


Characteristics and Adaptations

Lions are the second largest African cat. Tigers are the largest. Lions adapt to their habitat by having sharp claws and teeth to catch their prey. They also have a strong jaw for eating. Having powerful legs to run after their prey is important too.

They can have yellow or brown fur that helps them to camouflage. Male lions have manes. A mane is a long collection of fur around the head of a male lion. Females do not have manes.

Lions live in prides. When lions are cubs, they are born with spots called rosettes. They fade as they get older.


Lions live in many parts of Africa. They mainly live in grassy lands, open woodlands, prairies, and Savannas. They find their own territory. This is why they are known as the "Kings of the Jungle." They prefer to live near water like rivers. This is so they can drink water to survive. Also, many of their prey live near water, so they can hunt it.

Prey and Predators

Lions are carnivores, or meateaters. They hunt for zebras, buffalo, rhinos, hippos, and giraffes. They also eat the meat of animals that are already killed by other animals. This makes up 50% of their diets.

Humans are the lions biggest predators. It is illegal, or against the law, for lions to be hunted and killed. When humans would kill them, they would be considered trophies of bravery. They are now protected in Africa.


Characteristics and Adaptations

Tigers are the largest African cats. There are 9 different species. Tigers have black stripes, and no tigers stripes are the same. They are like human fingerprints! Normally, tigers have a reddish-orange color fur. Some species can also have gold or white. They have a long tail, that can be up to 3 feet long! When tigers stretch, they can stretch to as long as 6 feet long!

Tigers hunt at night. This helps them to catch their prey when they are sleeping. They swim really well and love the water. This also helps them catch their prey.


Tigers live in tropical forests, woodlands, and swamps. Some also live in a rocky country too. This is where the tigers prey is.

Prey and Predators

Deer, wild pigs, water buffalo, and antelopes are apart of the tiger's diet. They will also hunt leopards, snakes, and crocodiles.

Humans are its biggest predators. Like lions, it is illegal to kill tigers.


Characteristics and Adaptations

Leopards have spots called rosettes. If they live in East Africa, the spots are round. If the leopards live in South Africa, the rosettes are square.

Leopards have different colors of fur. They can be light brown or dark brown. This helps them to camouflage. Being able to camouflage is important because leopards are nocturnal, or are awake at night. Leopards need to be able to camouflage in the daylight so they do not get killed.

Leopards are also nomads. They do not live in one place for a long time. They move from one place to another every few days.


Leopards like to live in thick bushes during the day. Because they are nocturnal, leopards need to camouflage in the bushes during the day. The leopards fur and habitat help them to adapt in warm and cold climates.

Prey and Predators

Leopards eat fish, reptiles, and birds. They also eat some mammals like warthogs, monkeys, and antelope.

Just like lions and tigers, leopards are also hunted by humans for coats and robes.



to blend in to its surroundings


meat eater


against the law


the fur around a male lion's head


awake at night


moves from one place to another, does not live in one place for a long time




different groups