Introducing and killing wild animals for entertainment in amphitheatres or for expensive ivory or fur has led to a significant decline in species numbers across the Empire.
As early as 50 BCE, Cicero, as governor of Cilicia (southeastern Turkey), wrote a letter to Marcus Caelius Rufus, who was preparing to organize the Games (in order to gain popularity among the people) that leopards (pantherae) are extremely rare.
The main source of animal supplies was Africa, from where hippos, lions, elephants, giraffes, rhinos and leopards were imported. Big wild cats were referred to as africanae. Tigers were imported from India; interestingly, studies show that tigers were not only caught in India but also in Armenia. From there they were transported by sea. Bears, deer and wild boars were transported from northern and central Europe.