Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I am voting member of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group and study small cats around the world.

You mentioned Endangered species. The IUCN Cat Specialist Group is responsible for maintaining and updating the Red List of globally threatened mammals. The Cat Specialist Group naturally is responsible for the cats. This is where the terms Critically Endanged, Endangered, Near Threatened, Least Concern, and Data Deficient arise and are used. When you use the term Endangered it has a very specific meaning.

Currently there is only one Critically Endangered wild cat - the Iberian lynx who populations is less than 200 individuals. It is now found only in south Spain but is the subject of a very large effort by the EU to prevent its extinction.

There are 4 Endangered cats: Tiger, Snow leopard, Bay cat, and Andean mountain cat. The Andean mountain cat is the only Endangered cat in the Americas and is found above 3500m in the Andes of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. We now an $80K/yr conservation effort ongoing to secure a future for Gato Andino - the Andean mountain cat.

Because of its small geographic range (mostly in Chile) the Guigna (or kodkod) must be carefully monitored to keep it from slipping to Endangered. This cat has the smallest geographic range of new New Workld cats. There are two males in a private facility.

The Ocelot, Margay, Jaguarundi, Tigrina, Puma, and jaguar are far more common than any of the above cats. These are the species you will find in Panama and in fact throughout the Neotropics and are not Endangered. The Pampas cat and Geoffroy's cat are also not Endangered either.

Compare these cats to the ones I'm most concerned about.

The Chinese mountain cat has not been photographed or camera trapped in the wild ever and has never been the subject of any study whatsoever. The Tibetans make hats out of them. The Flat-headed cat, Bay cat, Marbled cat remain very elusive and unstudied. The Flat-headed cat is a lowland aquatic specialist found in Malaysia, Sumatra, and Borneo - where natural lowlands are fast disappearing.. We have but 2 camera trap pictures of Flat-headed cats and Bay cats - ever taken. There is only one very poor photograph of a wild Bay cat! Talk about rare ...

Anyway, lots of work to do for the cats ...

--jim


Jim Sanderson, Ph.D., TEAM Research Scientist Center for Applied Biodiversity ScienceConservation International1919 M Street, NW, Suite 600 Washington, DC 20036-3521 USA Tel: 202-912-1803 Fax: 202-912-0773Small Cat Conservation Alliance

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