THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
TSUSHIMA, Nagasaki Prefecture--A rare indigenous leopard cat has been caught on film in the southern part of Tsushima island for the first time in 23 years, the prefectural government announced.
The Tsushima Yamaneko wild cat is designated as a national natural treasure. It lives only in the island off northern Kyushu and has been named an endangered species by the central government.
An estimated 80 to 110 Tsushima wild cats live in the northern part of Tsushima, but none has been spotted in the southern part since 1984.
The image was captured by an automatic camera system in Izuhara on the night of March 2. The photo project was commissioned by the Environment Ministry.
The wild cat is apparently an adult and well-nourished, prefectural officials said Tuesday.
The sex of the animal was not known.
The southern part of the island is connected by a bridge with the north, where the ministry's Tsushima Wildlife Conservation Center is located.
In the south, the leopard cat population has dwindled due to deforestation and housing developments.
The last leopard cat found there was a carcass, apparently a traffic accident victim, in May 1984.(IHT/Asahi: May 10,2007)