why are there no large predators in African jungles?

Africa has vast areas of dense jungles, but I don’t think there are any large predators living in them. Why don’t they have their equivalent of a tiger or jaguar?

You mean, aside from lions?

Lions don’t live in jungles…they live on the savannah.

I expect it is too hard for a large predator to get around in a dense jungle. Large predators either ambush and/or run down their prey. In a dense jungle a large animal would make quite a racket moving about. If it stayed in one place its food would have to walk very close by (as opposed to the predator spotting its meal half a mile away in open plains). Once the ambush was sprung the smaller prey would have an advantage in getting away by dodging through the undergrowth.

In the end it’s probably too much trouble so they stick to more open land.

okay, then. Leopards.

How about big snakes? Omnivorous apes? Man?

My WAG is that the size of the prey dictates the size of the predator. If you only have smaller animals in the jungle, a predator the size of a lion or tiger is like swatting mosquitoes with a hammer. You’d get smaller predators in the jungle, for the most part.

What about the semi-mythical marozi, which purportedly lives in the forests of East Africa?

Oh, because those are forests, not jungles. Sorry about that.

Whaddya mean by “jungle”?

Jungle is not a technical term. It’s just a popular term for any tropical forest.

Most tropical forests don’t fit the popular idea of “jungle,” as some impenetrable thicket of vegetation. Most tropical forests are actually quite open and easy to walk through, with little undergrowth since most of the light is blocked out by the canopy and doesn’t reach the ground.

Tropical forests in Africa have leopards, tropical forests in Asia have tigers and leopards, and tropical forest in the Americas has jaguars and pumas. And lions will enter some lighter forest in Africa.

All plenty big enough, if you ask me.

Aside from the clinher point that Colibri notes that the African equivalent of a jaguar is a leopard/panther, is the point Ethilrist raised. Large predators are only really an option against large prey. Most large prey species get large at least in part to avoid predators. Most large animals are at a distinct disadvantage in rain forests. Despite the fact that the undertsorey in most places is reasonably open, in places where it is exposed to the sun it does become a tangle of plants. Animals need to move through these areas, and large animals are very vulnerable to ambush while doing so. Added to this is the problem that there isn’t the bulk of ground level food that is available in grasslands. There are some exceptions, including elephants and rhinos, but large animals are rare in rainforest. With a scarcity of large herbivores, huge predators of lion/sabretooth size aren’t really an option.

Tigers are a bit of a strange case, but they are only occasionally purely forest animals. Over most of their range they exists in areas of forest interspersed with more open wetlands or grassland/savannah patches.

Jungle is a Hindi word for forest, which was derived from a Sanskrit word meaning desert, so originally “jungle” just meant any uncultivated wasteland that wouldn’t support people easily.

I haven’t got anything to add to the comments about the jaguar being replaced by the tiger and leopard in other tropical forests except to say that the various Indonesian tiger species inhabit(ed) more densely-forested habitat than Bengal and Siberian tigers and they are also smaller animals.

As has been stated, rainforests typically don’t support many large mammal species. There are lots of insects, birds and reptiles, but not so many mammals.

Large predators typically eat large prey. So the abscence of large prey species means the absence of large predators.

Also remember that the understory of a rainforest is typically pretty poor habitat. Most of the activity goes on up in the canopies. So most of the predators are those that can get up into those canopies. The larger the predator the harder it will be for them to get into the canopy. So there are predatory birds and snakes, some small cats, but you can’t expect a fully grown tiger to clamber about the treetops.

While there’s not a great density of large mammals in tropical forests, the one’s that do occur there are plenty large.

The African Forest Elephant, recently determined to be a different species from the Savanna Elephant, is the second largest land animal (after the Savanna Elephant). And I can attest from personal experience, having recently been working in the forests of Gabon, that they are plenty common and can move with astonishing stealth through the forests. It also should be mentioned that forest elephants do change forest structure simply by their activities - where they are common there are lots of elephant trails.

The Forest Buffalo, a form of the Cape Buffalo, also occurs in forests, as do several large antelope.

However, leopards do not eat the largest prey available. They mostly feed on smaller forest antelope (duikers) and forest hogs.

In Asia, Asian elephants and some kinds of rhinos and wild cattle occur in forests. Likewise, the tiger doesn’t necessarily prey on these if other game, such as deer, is available.

In the American tropics, the largest animal is the Tapir and lives in forest. Although a jaguar can take a tapir, they generally eat mostly peccaries (wild pigs) and maybe a few deer.

All in all, tropical forests do contain some of the largest mammals, and the largest predators, on each continent. But the largest predators don’t necessarily prey on the largest herbivores - they are mostly immune from attack.