International Society For Endangered Cats

A Voice For The Wild Cats of the World

Tag Archives: endangered wild cats

Felid SSP species lists

by W. Angermeyer

fishing catWe received a request generated by my last post asking which cats were listed in each of the color coded Felid Species Survival Plans (SSPs) from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Here are the species listed by program, as published in the February issue of the Felid Tag Newsletter:

Yellow:  population is OK now but is not sustainable over the long term

Caracal, Serval, Amur Leopard, Canada Lynx, Cheetah, Snow Leopard, Ocelot, Puma, Clouded Leopard, Bobcat, Jaguar, Black-footed Cat

Green: population in captivity sustainable with a high percentage of genetic diversity for at least the next 100 years.


Red: population in captivity nowhere near sustainable (less than 50 individuals with poor genetic diversity)

Fishing Cat, Sand Cat, Pallas’ Cat


How many days until Christmas?

by W. Angermeyer

6a010535647bf3970b0153927b9eba970b-500wiIt is getting to be crunch time if you have procrastinated on your Christmas shopping like I have. I think even the most organized holiday shopper probably has a few of those small last minute gifts left to purchase. Most of the people on my list are cat lovers like myself so if I find a cat themed gift that I like, it usually goes over well with the recipient. I have found something that not only will please the ailurophiles on your list but also the bibliophiles – young and old alike!

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has partnered with Simon & Schuster to publish another book: ZooBorns CATS! It is a beautiful little book with stunning photographs that showcases the newest and cutest kittens and cubs born at zoos and aquariums around the world. Highlighting each baby as an individual, they include their name, date of birth, home zoo, and fun facts about their unique personality as well as the conservation challenges faced by their species. Just as with the site, the authors seek to build awareness about the ways breeding programs at accredited institutions help support conservation efforts in the wild. Additionally, 10% of all ZooBorn’s proceeds from the sale of every book goes to support the AZA’s Conservation Endowment Fund. By the way, ISEC Canada is included in the list of acknowledgements!

The book is available in many bookstores or as an Ebook as well as through the Zooborns website.

While on the subject of last minute gifts, how about ISEC’s beautiful Small Wild Cats Calendar. Please refer to the post at the top of the page for ordering information. As well, you might consider an ISEC membership which goes towards wild cat conservation and ensures that the lucky recipient receives a gift every month in the form of our newsletter!

Happy Holidays! (and good luck with your shopping)

Glückwünsche Berlin Zoo! (Congratulations on rare and significant births!)

On Aug 5, 2012 the Berlin Zoo celebrated their first Rusty Spotted Cat births. The two healthy kittens, which likely weighed 2.0 – 2.7 ounces (60 – 77 g) each at birth, are now venturing out of the den to explore their habitat.

Rusty Spotted Cats (Prionailurus rubiginosus) are slightly smaller than Black Footed Cats and Kodkods and are the world’s smallest wild cats. Adult weights are estimated at 2.0 – 3.5 lbs (0.9 – 1.6 kg) as compared to the average overfed house cat which ranges from 5 – 20 lbs (2.3 – 9 kg)! They are closely related to the Fishing Cat and Leopard Cat with the main distinguishing feature being it’s tail which averages about 50% of head to body length and is unmarked. In the wild, births usually occur in the spring in a secluded den. The gestation period is approximately  67 days with a litter size of one to three kittens.

Rusty-Spotted cats are found exclusively in Sri Lanka and India. They are threatened by habitat loss due to the conversion of wild lands to farms. The Indian population is listed as CITES Appendix I and the Sri Lankan population as CITES Appendix II. There is some encouraging news from  World Wildlife Fund camera trapping studies over the past few years which discovered Rusty Spotted Cats in the Terai Arc landscape which was a previously unknown distribution area.

Very few zoos display and breed this species so these kittens are a vital and important addition to the captive population. To see these cats in action watch the video of Rusty Spotted Cats from the Wildlife Heritage Foundation.

For more information on Rusty Spotted Cats and other small wild cats please visit the ISEC website at:


“Paws” to Remember

by Wanda Angermeyer

November 11’th is Remembrance Day in Canada and on that day we take a moment from our busy lives to honor the courageous men and women who have fallen protecting the rights and freedoms that we enjoy as Canadian citizens.

As I pause to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice these people made, it makes me think of the finality of death, especially when numerous deaths could mean the extinction of a species. When one thinks of extinct cat species most of us automatically think of the prehistoric saber-toothed cats. More recently extinct cat species include two lion sub-species (Cape  & Barbary) and three tiger sub-species (Bali, Caspian & Javan). The Javan Tiger was  only listed as extinct as recently as 1972!

In an effort to try to spotlight all of the world’s small wild cat species from time to time on our blog, the ISEC directors each have a list of 7 or more species to focus on. My list includes a couple of species listed as “least concern” and a few that are listed as “vulnerable” or “near threatened” on the IUCN Red List.  I also have one species  that was upgraded from “vulnerable” to “endangered” in 2008; the Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus).

The Fishing Cat, once locally common in some areas of eastern India and Bangladesh, has become increasingly difficult to locate throughout their range. The scarcity of recent records suggests that over the past decade, they have undergone a serious and significant population decline. Even in protected wetlands and former Fishing Cat study areas, researchers have been unable to document their presence.

Wetland destruction is the primary threat facing this species, as over 50% of Asian wetlands are under threat and disappearing. Other threats include pollution, hunting and indiscriminate trapping, snaring and poisoning are also taking a toll. A more recently recognized threat was identified in an ABC news report from April 24, 2012 which stated that Thailand shrimp farming is threatening the Fishing Cat. Biologist Namfon Cutter has been conducting research on this species for eight years and claims that the farms threaten the cats in two ways. First through the loss of habitat and also when local villagers kill the cats for preying on their livestock as an alternate food source. Unfortunately it is our consumption of shrimp here in North America that drives the Thailand shrimp farms economy.

It seems like a bleak and tragic future for these amazing little swimming cats but there is some good news. Working with government officials, researchers have had the Fishing Cat made part of the provincial natural resources protection policy, and an extensive public awareness conservation campaign is underway. There has also been some success with captive reproduction of this species. Some of the institutions that celebrated Fishing Cat births this year were the Newquay Zoo in the UK, the National Zoo in Washington and Curraghs Wildlife Park.

fishing cat national zoo

fishing cats national zoo

Perhaps in the future we will see captive bred Fishing Cats released back in to their natural habitat. For now, I intend to do my part by making an informed decision when purchasing frozen shrimp and checking  the country of origin on the package. Hopefully we do not have to ”Paws” to Remember the Fishing Cat as an extinct species in the future.

(Don’t forget to go to our web site for more information on Fishing Cats and other small wild cats.)

Photos of the kittens born at the National Zoo in May of 2012.

Video of Reintroduced Iberian Lynx

Fantastic views of a radio collared Lynx nr. Andujar on 14th February 2012. Believed to be a female nicknamed Elam born in 2008. This was one of three sightings during the week (the other two sightings were of uncollared animals).

Black-footed Birth Dens

"One week old kitten of female Ilse, left in termite mound while the mother was out hunting." A Sliwa

From early on, Black-footed kittens are tough survivors. A female spends just four days with her kittens before returning to her nocturnal hunting routine. She warms and nurses her young in daylight hours. The most common dens are abandoned springhare burrows. Other dens included old hollowed out termite mounds, which earned them their widely used Afrikaans name “miershooptier,” meaning anthill tiger.

Learn more about Black-footed Cats on our website

Help the researchers of the Black-footed Cat Working Group continue this conservation study!

Donate Now Through!

Black-footed Bird Hunter

"Female Lamu feeds on a clapper lark, gnawing off the primary and tail feathers." A. Sliwa

The smaller and more agile females are more successful than males at catching small birds. They flatten to the ground after hearing a bird, then inch closer, carefully placing each foot so as not to make a sound, before finally making an explosive dash and jump to pluck the bird out of the air.

Learn more about Black-footed Cats on our website

Help the researchers of the Black-footed Cat Working Group continue this conservation study!

Donate Now Through!

Black-footed Sparring

"Male Voctor threatens male Spok. Both were competing for a female in heat." A Sliwa.

Like most cat species, Black-footed cats are solitary, coming together only for mating. The resident male seems to be the only one able to mate with a female in her short estrous period, which only lasts for about 36 hours.

Learn more about Black-footed Cats on our website

Help the researchers of the Black-footed Cat Working Group continue this conservation study!

Donate Now Through!

Cats In China: Status of Medium and Small Species

The medium sized cats of China are the European lynx Lynx lynx and the clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa.

Lynx are widely distributed in northern China and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. At present the number and distribution of lynx countrywide remain unknown. Although lynx occur over a large area, there have been relatively strong human activities across their range, and so the species was ranked as a Class 1 protected species. At present we do not know how many natural reserves include lynx.

Clouded leopards occur almost all over southern China. At present the numbers of clouded leopards countywide, as well as their regional distribution, remain unknown. There are intensive social and economic activities in their range, and although it covers a large area, they exist in limited numbers so were ranked as a Class 1 protected species. Almost all reserves in middle and southern China are believed to host the clouded leopard as one of the main protected animals, but the exact number in these reserves remains unknown.

Because large cats such as tigers and leopards are so rare nowadays, their role in the ecosystem has been greatly weakened so medium sized cats can be a partial substitute for the big cats. Therefore the protection of medium sized cats becomes more important for maintaining healthy ecosystems.

Cats of small size include the Chinese mountain cat Felis bieti, the Asiatic wildcat Felis silvestris, the jungle cat Felis chaus, the manul or Pallas’ cat Otocolobus manul, the marbled cat Pardofelis marmorata, the Asiatic golden cat Catopuma temmincki, the leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis and the fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus.

Traditionally, the main economic value of small cats was their fur. The main threats are habitat changes, and chemical poisons used for rodent control in agriculture, forestry and grassland. It is well known that small cats play a great role in rodent control and are indispensable in maintaining a well-sustained ecosystem, a function to which much more attention should be paid.

As of 2006, China has established natural reserves covering 15% of its total territory. Nevertheless, except in some areas where the number and occurrence of these species have been studied, knowledge of the accurate distribution and population size of each cat species is still suffering from a lack of scientific data.

Since 1995, China has conducted a wildlife survey for Class I and II protected species countrywide every ten years.  However the method was not particularly appropriate for cat surveys, leaving gaps of knowledge about cats in each province. Meanwhile the local people still have a very limited awareness of conservation, and cats still suffer form occasional poaching activities. There are insufficient funds for protection and even less for regular monitoring of wild populations, both being necessary for the effective conservation and long term survival of cats. Cat species would also benefit from increased recognition from government, academia and local communities.

Source: CATnews Special Issue 5, Autumn 2010 Authors: Lu Jun, Hy Defu and Yang Liangliang

Next week: The only endemic cat species in China

Cats In China

This is the first in a series of articles on the wild cats of China. The IUCN Cat Specialist Group has released a special report, in conjunction with the Department of Wildlife Conservation, State Forestry Administration, China. Over the next few weeks, we will be presenting excerpts from that publication to give an overall picture of wild cat conservation in that country.

China is a land of cats. Almost a third of the 37 living cat species worldwide occur in the People’s Republic of China. This richness is no surprise considering the size and diversity of the country. China stretches over 9.6 million square kilometres from the Turfan depression 154 metres below sea level to the peak of the Qomolangma at 8,848 metres. Ecological regions include tropical rainforest in the southeast to boreal forest in the north, grass steppe in the northeast to sand deserts in the west and high alpine zones in the southwest. And in all these distinct habitat types, we can find felid species.

For some species the Chinese part is the most significant of their global range. China is important for the conservation of the cats, and the cats are important for nature conservation in China because they are living symbols of China’s biological and ecological diversity.

But China is also the most populated country in the world, and the cats need to share all living space with many people who have, in the course of a very old culture, brought the use of nature to perfection. Today, China is the world’s fastest growing economy, and this brings new challenges, but also opportunities for the conservation of the indigenous fauna. Habitat destruction, the traditional consumptive use of cats, and the increasing fragmentation of the landscape through modern transport infrastructure are among the threats to the survival of wildlife in China.

But the fast development also brings opportunities: as a consequence of urbanization and rural exodus, some regions are experiencing habitat recovery. Vast reforestation programs help to restore the forest, new laws protect wildlife and their habitats.

Over 2,000 protected areas of various categories are today recognised in China, protecting 14-18% of the country’s land area. The increasing wealth of Chinese society not only provides more financial capacity for nature conservation projects, but it also boosts the interest of Chinese citizens in wildlife and nature conservation.

Source: CATnews Special Issue 5 Autumn 2010,  Authors: Urs Breitenmoser, Wang Weisheng, Lu Jun and Eva Jutzeler

Next: Cats In China: Legal Status and Conservation

%d bloggers like this: