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Browsing: 447 times print

Date:2018-06-25
Bracket:2018 NCYU News
Department:ncyu

A front photo of leopard cats Reappearance of an Endangered Leopard Cat in Chiayi is Silver Lining for Conversation
  The leopard cat was announced as an endangered wild animal by the Animal Protection Law, and has been spot only in the low-lying mountains from Miaoli to Nantou based on surveys for over the past decade. It is estimated that there is a population of leopard cats less than 1,000 around Taiwan. And one of them appeared in a mammal survey recently conducted by Lin Ya-Ting, a student of the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, National Chiayi University, with an automatic infrared camera in Jhong Pu Township, Chiayi County. After retrieving the camera, she found the presence of the leopard cat in the scene around four in the morning of May 15th. Despite only one was seen, the fact that the leopard cat still exists in Chiayi came as a pleasant surprise to the researchers.

  Liu Jian-Nan, assistant professor of the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, NCYU, indicated that literature has shown the leopard cat had been widely distributed on the whole island of Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period. In the past ten-plus years, the leopard cat has been found only in such areas as Miaoli, Taichung, Nantou and Changhua according to surveys conducted by the government, academia or private organizations. The only one reported case in Changhua, unfortunately, was a roadkill. The last time it was seen in the Chiayi region could be traced to as far back as 1994, when a leopard cat was found injured by a trap in the mountainous region of Alishan and later sent to the Endemic Species Research Institute, Council of Agriculture, for first aid. More than twenty years had passed without any sign of its existence in the area.

  According to Assistant Prof. Liu, there had been only two wild cats in Taiwan, among which was the Formosan clouded leopard that had been confirmed to be extinct; and the other is the leopard cat, whose population was estimated to be less than 1,000 around Taiwan. There has been increasing attention paid to its conservation in recent years by the government agencies (e.g., Forestry Bureau), academic units (e.g., Endemic Species Research Institute), and civil organizations (e.g., Leopard Cat Association of Taiwan), who have been dedicated to distribution-related research on leopard cats as well as development of measures dealing with threats that face them. In spite of all the efforts, its population has been decreasing continually, and most of the news about the leopard cat these years was depressingly negative: destroyed habitats, roadkills, trap injuries, and virus infection. The rediscovery of the leopard cat in Chiayi demonstrated that there should be a population of wild leopard cats in the region, bringing rare good news for the future existence of leopard cats.

  Assistant Prof. Liu added that the leopard cat was found in the low-lying mountains, where students of the departments installed 15 cameras that have being shooting for more than a year. During the period, only one leopard cat appeared before the camera. Cameras had also been set up in the Chiayi region by other institutions for mammal surveys, but no sign of the leopard cat had ever been found, which is a testament to its scarcity around the area. Given the urgency of the current situation, a more systematic and comprehensive investigation should be carried out in the low-lying mountains of Chiayi to further shed light on the current distribution of the leopard cat in the region. The results can be provided to authorities concerned to devise proactive conservation measures aiming to enable the population to grow and gradually connect with the leopard cat population in the regions of Tainan, Yunlin and Nantou. The ultimate goal is to bring it out of endangerment.

Facts about Leopard Cats
Common name: Leopard cat
Alias: Chinese Tiger Cat, Chinese Money Cat, and Asian leopard cat
Scientific name: Prionailurus bengalensis chinensis
Conservation status: An endangered protected species
Weight range: Around 3-6 kilos; males are slightly larger in body size than females.
Characteristics: The backs of its black with central white spots. Its forehead is marked with two white stripes. Its body, limbs and tail are marked with black spots.
Ecology: They are widely distributed in the mountains, mainly feed on rats. As nocturnal animals, they are active mainly in the early morning and at dusk.
A full-body photo of leopard cats An leopard cat was captured in the photo in Jhong Pu Township, Chiayi during May of 2018
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