Every year on or around earth day (or “erf day”), we at CatSynth dedicate our Weekend Cat Blogging to some of the world’s endangered wild cat species. We look to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as our primary source for species that are “endangered” or “vulnerable”. There are several cat species on this list from many parts of the world, and we present a few of them here.
This year, we focus on South America (for reasons beyond the scope of this article). The Andean region is home to some rather intriguing cats that we have discussed in the past. Perhaps the most intriguing and most endangered remains the gato andino, or Andean Mountain Cat. The Andean mountain cat lives in rocky areas at high elevations of the Andean region of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Perú. It is quite small, but has a very distinctive large tail. There is now an organization dedicated to studying and protecting the Andean cat, Alianza Gato Andino. There you can find more about the cat, see photos and also see more of the Andean landscape it inhabits. I am drawn to the starkly beautiful dry landscape, and perhaps will have a chance to visit someday.
In reading about the Andean cat, I also learned about the Pampas Cat. The Pampas cat also lives in western South America, but is not considered nearly as threatened a species. As one can see from this photograph, it bears a resemblance to domestic cats, though with perhaps more squat body shape.
It is currently listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, and until recently little was known about it. A project was undertaken in Chile to learn more about these cats.
We round out our South American cats with the Oncilla. It looks quite like a domestic cat with wild the coat and markings of a wild cat. In addition to habitat pressures, it has been trapped in the past for the fur trade.
We next go to southeast Asia where several of the worlds most endangered cats live. The very unusual looking Borneo Bay Cat lives only on the island of Borneo. It is quite rare, and little is known about this cat, but it was classified as “endangered” in 2005 primarily due to habitat loss.
The Flat Headed Cat, also from Indonesia, is not one I would immediately recognize as a cat. It lives in the forests of Indonesia on multiple islands, usually near water. Sightings of this car are rare, and it is classified as “endangered.”
Another endangered cat of southeast Asia (and India) is the Fishing Cat. It has an interesting face with a distinctive flat nose and small ears. As the name suggests, it is quite adapted to hunting and eating fish. As such, it is dependent on wetlands and fishing stocks, and is now also classified by IUCN as “endangered.”
Perhaps the most endangered species of cat remains the Iberian Lynx. It is listed as “critically endangered”, with an IUCN survey suggesting between 84 and 143 adults left in two breeding populations in Spain. Conservation efforts are currently focused on supporting these breeding populations. You can read more about the Iberian Lynx in our first “Earth Day Weekend Cat Blogging” article.
If we include large cats as well, there is the even rarer Amur Leopard of northeastern Asia. A census in 2007 counted only about 20 adults remaining. We conclude with this video of the Amur Leopard:
Weekend Cat Blogging #254 is being hosted by Salome at Paulchens FoodBlog?!
The Carnival of the Cats will be up this Sunday at When Cats Attack.
And the Friday Ark is at the modulator.