Male African lion roaring

Roaring cats

Lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars are the only cats that can roar. The sound is produced by a specialised larynx and flexible hyoid bone and can be used to stake territory, communicate generally or express anger. The four roaring cats are some of the world's most photogenic animals, whose lethal stealth and grace has inspired many film-makers. They feature in many of the classic BBC series from Life of Mammals and Wild Africa to Big Cat Diary and Planet Earth, with such video gems as a night-time lion hunt and glimpses of the world's rarest big cat, the Amur leopard.

Did you know?
There are only four species of cat that can roar. This is because they have a specialised larynx and a flexible hyoid bone.

Scientific name: Panthera

Rank: Genus

Common names:

Great cats


Map showing the distribution of the Roaring cats taxa

The shading illustrates the diversity of this group - the darker the colour the greater the number of species. Data provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

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