Every year on or around Earth Day, we at CatSynth dedicate a Weekend Cat Blogging posts to the endangered wild cats around the world.
Through the work of the International Society for Endangered Cats and their active Facebook page, we continue to be surprised by the diversity and beauty of the small wildcats, even while observing their similarities to our domestic companions. The bridge between the domestic and the wild is part of what makes these cats so endearing.
We start this year with the Scottish wildcat. A population of European wildcats was found in Scotland in 2012. They are critically endangered, numbering less than 100 according to the Scottish Wildcat Association.
[By Peter Trimming (Scottish wildcatsUploaded by Mariomassone) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons]
Without immediate help, this subspecies – the last cat native to Britian – could go extinct this year! You can follow efforts to save the Scottish wildcat via the Scottish Wildcat Association and Highland Tiger.
The Asiatic Golden Cat lives in the tropical forests of southeast Asia. They are a bit bigger and more muscularly built than domestic cats.
[By Karen Stout (originally posted to Flickr as Asian Golden cat) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons]
They are considered “Near Threatened” or “Vulnerable” on the IUCN scale, largely because of deforestation and hunting. Sadly, there is a thriving illegal trade in their fur, bones and meat, and they are also considered a threat to livestock, which makes them vulnerable to being killed in reprisals.
The Caracal is quite distinctive in its appearance, with its large ear tufts. They are found widely throughout Africa and the Middle East.
[By Kristian Thy from Copenhagen, Denmark (Caracal kitten) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons]
Although not considered endangered, they are often persecuted for threatening livestock. Especially in southern Africa, caracal killings by farmers and ranchers has become all too common.
A perennial favorite of ours, the Black-footed Cat is among the smallest of wildcat species. ISEC is continuing their Black-footed Cat Project in South Africa in order to better understand this species.
[By Zbyszko (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons]
Another group we follow, the The Felidae Conservation Fund, sponsors projects here in the Bay Area and around the world, including an effort to study Arabian Leopard.
[By עמוס חכמון (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons
The Arabian Leopard, which is found in various parts of the Arabian peninsula, is the smallest leopard subspecies and is considered critically endangered.
And of course, we have our own wildcats close to home. Bobcats can be found here in the Bay Area and throughout California.
[By Don DeBold from San Jose, CA, USA (Calero Creek Trail Bobcat) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons]
The main threats to these cats are loss of habitat and fragmentation, especially in our larger more urbanized areas. Bobcats are also hunted for fur and sport (it is still legal in California).
Please visit the sites mentioned in this article to find out more about wildcats and wildcat conservation, and to support their efforts.