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Though the Lion varies greatly in shape and colour, and in other minor features in different districts, it seems impossible to accept the proposed division of it by some authors into species, or even into geographical sub-species. It is true that an expert, well accustomed to examine Lions, will usually be able to guess correctly the locality whence any particular specimen has been received, but this is by no means absolutely certain.
The Tiger, the next noblest beast of prey existing in the present day, and by some writers assigned to a station superior even to that of the Lion, is essentially, no doubt, an inhabitant of the Oriental Region, but has extended its range in many places, probably within a not very distant period, far to the north. The Indian Peninsula
be said to be its focus, where it is found almost everywhere from the Himalayas, which it ascends to a height of 6000 or 7000 feet, to Cape Comorin. Curiously enough, however, the Tiger is not found in Ceylon. Outside India the Tiger ranges throughout Northern Persia, Turkestan, and the southern provinces of China, reaching on the west up to Manchuria and Amurland, where, however, it has learnt to put on a thicker and longer coat in winter to protect it from the severe cold. To the south and east of India the Tiger extends all over the Siamese and Malay Peninsulas into Sumatra and Java, but not, it is believed, into Borneo. Tigers from Sumatra and Java do not, however, attain to the large dimensions of their brethren of India and the north.
The third great Cat of the Old World, the Leopard, has a still wider distribution than its two larger brethren. Not only does it inhabit the whole of Africa, including its northern portion, but extends also nearly over every part
of the Oriental Region and into the confines of the Palæarctic. The Leopard is met with throughout Western Asia, Persia, the Indian Peninsula, including Ceylon, the Siamese and Malay Peninsulas, China, and the larger islands in the Indian Archipelago. It varies much throughout its range, not only in size, but in shape and in the character of its markings; yet it is impossible to consider more than one species of Leopard as satisfactorily established.
The fourth great Cat of the Old World, the Ounce (Felis uncia), distinguished at once from the Leopard by its white body-colour, thick fur, and much lengthened tail, is confined to the high ranges of Central Asia, and occurs only at elevations of over 8000 feet. In Gilgit, Hunza, and Tibet, it occurs occasionally within the range of the Indian sportsman, but is more frequent further north, and in the north-west ranges of Siberia and Amurland.
After the four great Cats of the Old World, we must proceed to discuss the corresponding animals of the New World. These are two only in number, the Jaguar (F. onca), and the Puma (F. concolor), both inferior in size and organization to the Lion and Tiger, the places of which they are generally supposed to take in the Western Hemisphere. The Puma has a very wide distribution in America, extending over the greater part of both North and South America, from the most northern of the United States and British Columbia down to Patagonia. In the extent of its range from north to south, the Puma seems to surpass every other carnivorous animal.
The Jaguar has likewise a very wide distribution in America, though it cannot rival the Puma in this respect. Its northern limit in these days appears to be Louisiana, Texas, and the adjoining southern United States. Hence it ranges throughout Central and South America down to the Rio Negro of Patagonia. As might, however, have been expected from its being essentially a forest-loving animal, the Jaguar does not occur on the western side of the Andes south of Ecuador.
Thus we may take it that of the six largest and finest carnivorous mammals of the existing creation, four are found in the Old Continent and two others, generally inferior in structure, in the New World. We need not here go at length into the distribution of the smaller cats, some forty or forty-five in number, as variously estimated. It is sufficient to say that those of the New World are specifically distinct from those of the Old, except in the case of the Lynxes, in which the differentiation of the Canada Lynx (F. canadensis) from F. lynx of the Palæarctic Region is perhaps somewhat doubtful. The cats of the Ethiopian and Oriental Regions are also, as a rule, different, and many of them are restricted to comparatively narrow geographical limits.
The second genus of the Cat family (Felide) contains only the Hunting Leopard, Cynælurus jubatus, which has somewhat the same distribution as the Lion. It is found all over Africa, and extends throughout South-western Asia and Persia into Western India up to the confines of Bengal. Attention, however, should be directed to a supposed second species of this genus, the Woolly Cheetah (C. laniger), which has hitherto been only met with in some of the higher districts of the Cape Colony.
Next to the Cats we come to the Viverridæ, or Civets, a much more numerous group containing about seventy species, usually divided into about twenty-four genera. In the New World the Viverridæ are entirely unrepresented, and, as a rule, may be said to belong to the tropical portions of the Ethiopian and Oriental Regions, being entirely absent in the Australian Region. It may also be again remarked that the Malagasy Sub-region is quite peculiar as regards its Viverridæ, six wellmarked genera of this family being entirely restricted to that anomalous island, whilst the seventh, Viverricula, is probably only an introduction from the Oriental Region.
In the Palæarctic Region the Viverridæ are feebly represented by a few scattered species which have strayed from the south into its limits, such as the Common Genet (Genetta vulgaris) and the Ichneumon (Herpestes ichneumon), which are both met with in Southern Spain and Algeria. As a rule, again it may be said that the Ethiopian and Oriental Viverridæ are not only specifically but generically different. But one large genus, Herpestes, has its twenty species divided pretty equally between the two Regions, and the typical Civets, Viverra, are found both in Africa and India.
A third family of the Æluroid Carnivora has been necessarily formed for the reception of the Aard-Wolf (Proteles cristatus). This is a hyenoid form well distinguished by its extremely peculiar dentition. The AardWolf appears to be restricted to the southern and eastern portions of Africa, and constitutes one of the most characteristic forms of Ethiopian mammal-life.
Finally, closing the Æluroid series, we have the small family of Hyænas (Hyænide) containing three wellmarked species, which, taken on the whole, must be denominated Ethiopian, as they all three occur within the limits of that Region, and two of them at the present epoch are restricted to it. But the Striped Hyæna (Hyæna striata) extends from North-east Africa through Arabia and Persia into Northern India, where it is common in the North-western and Central Provinces. It must therefore be registered as a common inhabitant of the Ethiopian and Oriental Regions.
SECTION III.-DISTRIBUTION OF THE DOG-LIKE
The Cynoid, or Dog-like Carnivora, consists only of the single family Canidæ. Of this the great mass of species (from thirty to forty in number) belongs to the true Dogs (Canis), which, as we shall see, are very widely distributed over the earth's surface, whilst the three remaining genera are isolated forms, each of one species only, and are restricted to narrow geographical limits.
The Dogs (Canis) are amongst the most hardy of known mammals, and are spread, as already stated, over the whole earth, being apparently adaptable to all the zones, whether tropical, temperate, or frigid. The anomalous island of Madagascar is the only land to which they have not penetrated, that is, if we allow the Dingo of Australia to be an indigenous and not an introduced species, which is a point open to question. In the Arctic Regions the Polar Fox (Canis lagopus) extends as far north as any other carnivorous mammal, except perhaps the Polar Bear, and is found far above the Arctic Circle in both the Old and the New World alike. On the other hand, in the extreme south of the New