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This report summarizes the discussion that emerged at the second international Small Wild Cat Conservation Summit held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from 6 to 11 Decem- ber 2019. Thirty one conservationists from 16 countries gathered to share and discuss the conservation status of the world’s small wild cats. They shared their research and conservation experiences, identified common threats and locally appropriate threat reduction strategies. The key threats to the small wild cat species were identified as: habitat loss and degradation, human-small wild cat conflict, hunting and poaching and vehicle collisions. However, only ten small wild cat species with known con- servation initiatives were represented at the summit. A third summit planned for 2022 is envisaged to have more participants and enable the representation of more small wild cat species.
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ISSN 1027-2992
N° 71 | Spring 2020
CATnews 71 Spring 2020
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Are we doing enough to pro-
tect the World’s small wild
This report summarizes the discussion that emerged at the second international
Small Wild Cat Conservation Summit held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from 6 to 11 Decem-
ber 2019. Thirty one conservationists from 16 countries gathered to share and discuss
the conservation status of the world’s small wild cats. They shared their research and
conservation experiences, identified common threats and locally appropriate threat
reduction strategies. The key threats to the small wild cat species were identified as:
habitat loss and degradation, human-small wild cat conflict, hunting and poaching
and vehicle collisions. However, only ten small wild cat species with known con-
servation initiatives were represented at the summit. A third summit planned for 2022
is envisaged to have more participants and enable the representation of more small
wild cat species.
There are 40 species of wild felids (wild
cats) worldwide, of which 33, in 11 genera,
are classified as small cats (Kitchener et al.
2017; Fig. 1). Small wild cats, like big cats,
occur on five continents: Africa, Asia, Eu-
rope, North America and South America.
While the big wild cats such as tiger Pan-
thera tigris, lion P. leo, jaguar P. onca, leop-
ard P. pardus, snow leopard P. uncia, puma
Puma concolor, and cheetah Acinonyx juba-
tus have received significant research and
conservation attention, the small wild cats
remain less studied (Brodie 2009). Yet, small
wild cats provide vital ecosystem services
typical of all predators (Silmi et al. 2013). In
particular, in some areas where large preda-
tors have been extirpated, small wild cats
are “ecologically released” (Crooks & Soule
1999) and have become apex predators
(De Oliveira et al. 2010, Mills et al. 2012,
Mohamed et al. 2013, Sheil et al. 2013). In
these areas, small wild cats face globally
increasing threats akin to those faced by
big cats such as human-wild cat conflict,
hunting and poaching, habitat loss and
degradation. Thirteen of the world’s small
wild cat species are threatened with ex-
tinction. This means, that they are assessed
as Endangered, or Vulnerable by the Inter-
national Union for Conservation of Nature
IUCN. Effective conservation of these spe-
cies is further hampered by limited scientific
knowledge, as they are far less studied than
their larger big cat relatives (Brodie 2009).
Small wild cats receive less than 1% of the
conservation funding made available for
all the 40 wild cat species (Brodie 2009, J.
Sanderson, pers. comm.). This has a direct
influence on the volume of research and
conservation actions undertaken for small
wild cats. So far, of 33 species, only the An-
dean cat Leopardus jacobita (CONAF 2016),
guiña Leopardus guigna (CONAF 2017) and
the Pallas's cat Otocolobus manul (Pallas's
Cat Global Action Planning Group 2019)
have global conservation action plans. Ef-
fective science-based strategy to ensure
the survival of all threatened small wild
cats is necessary, thereby ensuring the
persistence of the ecosystem services they
provide. In an effort to advance the conser-
vation of small wild cats, the Small Wild
Cat Conservation Summit (SWCCS), spon-
sored by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species
Conservation Fund, Cincinnati Zoo, the
Fishing Cat Fund and the Small Wild Cat
Conservation Foundation gathered 31 con-
servationists from 16 countries (Supporting
Online Material SOM Table T1) to Colom-
bo, Sri Lanka for five days (6–11 December
This was the second such summit, following
its successful maiden version in 2017 of the
same name (Appel et al. 2018). Ten species
of small wild cats were represented by the
participants at the summit: African golden
cat, Andean cat, bobcat, caracal, Eurasian
lynx, fishing cat, guiña, leopard cat, Pallas’s
cat and pampas cat. The goal of the summit
was to share experiences and discuss the
conservation of the world’s small wild cats.
For the programme of the summit see SOM
T2. The summit was co-organized by Badru
Mugerwa, Anya Ratnayaka, Ashan Thuduga-
la and Jim Sanderson.
meeting report
CATnews 71 Spring 2020
Species presentation summaries
Fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus
Ex-situ conservation (Linda Castañeda)
Ex-situ conservation of small wild cats not
only provides a genetic bank to potentially
revive wild populations but can also provide
insights into the species biology such as be-
haviour and dietary requirements that is rele-
vant for in-situ conservation of the species in
the range countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia,
India, Nepal and Sri Lanka).
Bangladesh (Sayam Chowdhury and Ai Suzuki)
The most prevalent threats to fishing cats in
Bangladesh are habitat loss and human-dri-
ven persecution, either in retaliation to live-
stock/poultry depredation (Chowdhury et al.
2015) or out of innate fear of fishing cats and
the misconception that they kill/hurt humans.
Fear of the fishing cat is deeply embedded
in local communities, leading to justification
for its killing. In some cases, the species is
perceived as being as dangerous as tigers.
Public sensitization and awareness through
outreach events reaching over 300 children
at local schools have been conducted to
change public attitudes towards the species.
Forty local duck farmers have also participa-
ted in workshops aimed at developing miti-
gation measures for fishing cat depredation
of ducks, mostly via installation of predator
proof enclosures.
Lower Gangetic Floodplains and Chilika Lake
Ramsar site (Tiasa Adhya)
The two key threats to the fishing cat in
this area are habitat loss and human-driven
persecution. Lawsuits and public outreach
through social media and films are being used
to effectively protect habitat from being con-
verted. While interactions with stakeholders
ranging from local residents to government
bodies must be sustained, community-owned
and managed self-sustaining conservation
programmes are promising to reduce human
driven persecution. For example, the imple-
mentation of a “goat seed bank” with a lo-
cal non-governmental organization, in which
economically backward community members
are given pregnant goats on condition that at
least one kid would be available to replace
any goat that a neighbour might lose to a
fishing cat. The second is the disbursement
of 10 kg fry to fishermen on condition that
they would provide food to the fry and help
mon-itor fish loss to predators through a cam-
era trap exercise.
Godavari Delta, Andhra Pradesh (Giridhar
Fishing cats here take fish from aquaculture
ponds. Consequently, fishermen respond by
persecuting the cats in retaliation or by in-
stalling electric fences around the ponds to
deter predators. Habitat destruction driven by
the expanding commercial aquaculture is an
emerging threat to the fishing cat in this re-
gion. Conservation education programmes in
primary schools are ongoing to raise aware-
ness of the species.
Eastern Ghats (Murthy Kantimahanti)
Fishing cats are killed by incidental capture
in snares/traps for bushmeat hunting and
direct hunting by guns for food. Further, ha-
bitat destruction through sand mining along
riverbanks and conversion of riparian buffer
to agriculture are emerging threats (Kan-
timahanti et al. 2019). Alternative income
generation activities for poachers and their
families are being promoted to discourage
poaching. Lawsuits have been effective to
protect the habitat by stopping sand mining
in the coastal mangrove forest.
Sri Lanka (Anya Ratnayaka and Ashan Thu-
Vehicle collisions, poaching, urbanization and
human-fishing cat conflict are key threats to
fishing cats in Sri Lanka. The urban wetlands
of Colombo are prime fishing cat habitat
but threatened by development. Road signs
at vehicle collision hotspots have been
installed to reduce fishing cat-vehicle colli-
Fig. 1. The world's small wild cats and their IUCN Red List status (in parenthesis after the
scientific name); EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable, NT = Near Threatened and LC = Least
Concern. Artwork generously donated by Amy Huxtable.
meeting report
CATnews 71 Spring 2020
sion. Engaging with the wildlife authority to
mitigate poaching is ongoing. Human-fish-
ing cat conflict is being mitigated through
a combination of local community sensiti-
sation meetings on how to increase chicken
and fish safety from fishing cat depredation,
the introduction of chicken coops and com-
pensation through “chicken seed banks”. A
rehabilitation centre to cater for fishing cats
rescued from local communities has also
been constructed. Awareness programmes
targeting the general public and government
are likely to improve attitudes of the public
towards fishing cat conservation. A citizen
science programme has also been initiated
to identify fishing cat distribution and vehi-
cle collision hotspots throughout the island.
Fishing cats are being used as flagship
species for urban wetland conservation in
Colombo, a Ramsar accredited Wetland city
since 2018.
Nepal (Sagar Dahal)
Fishing cats in Nepal are threatened by reta-
liatory killing for fish and poultry depredation,
incidental poisoning from fishing, domestic
dogs, hunting for food and fur, vehicle collisi-
ons, habitat degradation and destruction. Pu-
blic awareness programmes to school child-
ren, fishing communities and politicians are
ongoing to increase support for the fishing
cat conservation. Over 50 families who have
lost poultry to fishing cats have been intro-
duced to predator proof chicken coops as a
way of preventing further depredation.
Cambodia (Vanessa Herranz)
Fishing cats in Cambodia are threatened by
hunting for food and retaliatory persecution
for domestic fowl predation as well as da-
mage to fishing equipment. Water hyacinth
clogging channels, sand mining and illegal
logging are emerging threats to the species
habitat. Community engagement through vil-
lage meetings and workshops are ongoing to
create awareness on the fishing cat and the
threats to its survival. Law enforcement sup-
port through capacity building and equipment
provision to local environment and wildlife
protection office are being used to combat
poaching, illegal logging and land grabbing.
Leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis
Japan (Nozomi Nakanishi)
The primary threat to the leopard cat on the
islands of Iriomote and Tsushima in Japan
for the last two decades has been vehicle
collisions. The local governments and envi-
ronmental agencies have built underpasses
for the cats and set up movable road signs
to warn drivers of the possible presence of
leopard cats. In winter when leopard cats be-
come active for dispersal and mating, flyers
and stickers to raise awareness on heighten-
ed leopard cat presence on highways are dis-
tributed as a part of the leopard cat vehicle
collision prevention campaign.
Pallas’s cat Otocolobus manul
Mongolia (Buyandelger Suuri)
The Pallas’s cat in Mongolia is threatened by
habitat degradation, hunting and unintended
killing of Pallas's cat, and rodent prey de-
clines due to vermin control of the Brandt's
vole Lasiopodomys brandtii. Over 2,500 trees
have been planted in the Eastern Mongolian
steppe which the Pallas’s cat use for shade
during the increasingly warming summers.
Twenty individuals of the Mongolian mar-
mot Marmota sibirica have also been re-
introduced in Eastern Mongolian steppe to
increase burrows which the Pallas’s cat use
during freezing winters. Public awareness
programmes including conservation educa-
tion and eco-tourism are ongoing to raise the
species’ profile to local people and the inter-
national community.
I. R. Iran (Niloufar Raeesi Chahartaghi)
The Pallas’s cat in Iran is threatened by
feral dogs, hunting, habitat loss and prey
reduction (Moqanaki et al. 2019). Raising
awareness among local people using an
infographic poster is the only conservation
initiative in place at the moment. Research
projects and conservation initiatives to iden-
Fig. 2. Some of the threats facing the ten small wild cats represented at the summit. From
top row left: human- small wild cat conflict and retaliatory persecution of fishing cats (Photo
The Fishing Cat Project), a vehicle collision of a pampas cat (Photo Peruvian Desert Cat
Project), hunting for food (Photo Murthy Kantimahanti), domestic animals (Photo Peruvian
Desert Cat Project) and habitat loss and degradation (Photo Giridhar Malla).
meeting report
CATnews 71 Spring 2020
tify and reduce threats to wild cats in Iran
have been and are continually hampered by
international sanctions currently imposed on
Iran and financial pressures on the environ-
mental sector which make fundraising nearly
African golden cat Caracal aurata
Uganda (Badru Mugerwa)
The African golden cat in Uganda is threat-
ened by both directed poaching for skin and
incidental capture in snares and traps as
poaching bycatch or “collateral damage”
(Mugerwa et al. 2013). Engagement with
local wildlife authorities and reformed (ex-)
poachers through piggery as a source of
alternative livelihood and meat has poten-
tial to dissuade poaching in three protected
areas; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park,
Kasyoha-Kitomi and Echuya Forest Reserves.
Moreover, the piggery initiative is designed
as a “pig seed bank” so as to not only bene-
fit poachers, but the entire local community.
The pig seed bank works by providing a pig
to poachers. When that pig has offspring, at
least one female piglet is given to the near-
est neighbour household in exchange for vo-
luntary community policing against poaching
and other threats to African golden cats.
Caracal Caracal caracal
South Africa (Marine Drouilly and Laurel Serieys)
In South Africa, the African golden cat’s clos-
est relative, the caracal is most threatened
by vehicle collisions, poaching, inbreeding,
disease, habitat loss, retaliatory killing
through hunting, trapping and incidental
poisoning by pesticides used in rodent pest
control programmes (Serieys et al. 2019).
Caracals are responsible for the majority of
domestic cat and dog kills in suburban areas
and for important livestock losses on farm-
land. Indeed, caracals are a major threat to
the financial sustainability of the small live-
stock industry (Drouilly et al. 2018). Together
with the city of Cape Town and South Africa
National Parks, regular patrols to mitigate
poaching and strategic outreach campaigns
are ongoing to discourage the communities’
use of pesticides as a rodent control strat-
egy. Constantly engaging local farmers to
change their perceptions about caracals and
discourage further retaliatory killing, as well
as the use of livestock guarding dogs is a
promising threat reduction initiative. A plan
for a genetic rescue to mitigate the threat
due to inbreeding in the Greater Cape Town
area is also underway.
Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx
France (Marine Drouilly)
The top human related causes of mortality of
the Eurasian lynx in France are vehicle colli-
sions and illegal killings. Strategies to reduce
threats to the Eurasian lynx include a national
conservation action plan to ensure reduced
human-induced mortality, improve the quan-
tity and the quality of lynx habitat, foster
coexistence with human activities, promote
the lynx and its image amongst local commu-
nities, and to develop cooperative scientific
studies and monitoring with the neighbouring
Bobcat Lynx rufus
USA (Laurel Serieys)
Rat poison is one of the main causes of bob-
cat mortality. Bobcats experience secondary
exposure after preying on poisoned rats and
other small mammals targeted with the poi-
sons (Serieys et al. 2015, Serieys et al. 2018).
Active advocacy against rat poisoning under
a slogan “Rat Poison Kills More Than Rats”
has helped to create awareness against ro-
denticide use and its impact on wildlife. This
awareness campaign has since precipitated
a lawsuit against the State of California with
the aim to reduce consumer availability of
these ubiquitous poisons.
Guiña Leopardus guigna
Chile (Constanza Napolitano)
The guiña in Chile is threatened by habitat
loss and fragmentation (leading to disrup-
tion of connectivity among subpopulations
and lower genetic diversity), parasites and
diseases transmitted by free-roaming do-
mestic cats and dogs (feline leukemia and
feline immunodeficiency virus; Mora et al.
2015), retaliatory persecution for poultry
depredation and vehicle collisions. Predator-
proof chicken coops and flashlights are used
to stop poultry attacks by the guiña. To re-
duce the spread of diseases and parasites
between domestic animals (cats and dogs)
and the guiña, domestic cats and dogs are
vaccinated and dewormed. Anthropologists
are measuring the overall impact of these
conservation activities, using pre and post-
tests, including focus groups with local
communities to identify and rank informa-
tion, and structured questionnaires. Other
conservation initiatives include public out-
reach campaigns involving media coverage
and conservation education programmes for
school children. A nation-wide conservation
action plan for the guiña has been developed
(CONAF 2017), and its implementation of pri-
ority actions is underway.
Andean cat Leopardus jacobita
Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru (Constanza
The Andean cat is facing human related
threats ranging from habitat destruction
( mining and oil companies desiccating key
wetlands and creating road access to pre-
viously wild areas), kills by domestic dogs,
human-wildlife conflict and general lack of
knowledge about the species relevance. The
Andean Cat Alliance (AGA, for its initials in
Spanish) has been working for the past 20
years in a coordinated way across the spe-
cies range countries (Argentina, Bolivia,
Chile and Peru). Livestock guarding dogs
are bred and given to local communities
to deter depredation of livestock herds. By
giving local communities guardian dogs to
protect their herds, local herders may have
better perceptions and attitudes towards
predators in general, therefore being less
inclined to hunt or harm Andean cats. Local
herders have frequent conflicts with pumas
and foxes killing their livestock, but their re-
taliation to depredation is not discriminatory
of species. Engaging and empowering local
communities in crafts as a tool to simulta-
neously strengthen cultural heritage and to
create a connection between the Andean cat
and livelihood improvement are being used
to discourage the hunting of the Andean
cat. Over 70 park guards have been trained
for the conservation of the Andean cat. Out-
reach and dissemination through public radio
shows, media and conservation education to
school children is raising awareness on the
Pampas cat Leopardus colocola
Peru (Cindy Hurtado and Alvaro García
The pampas cat in Peru is threatened by ha-
bitat degradation and loss, human commen-
sals (feral dogs, cats and pigs), opportunistic
hunting for pet trade and vehicle collisions.
To address these threats, intensive public
aware-ness and sensitization programmes
through environmental education and work-
shops are in place with local authorities,
school children and university students. A
citizen science initiative on social media to
record wildlife vehicle collisions is ongoing
to inform strategic installation of road signs
on pampas cat presence.
meeting report
CATnews 71 Spring 2020
Workshops and panel discussions
While directly working with key stakeholders,
particularly with local people, has been iden-
tified as one of the key approaches in reduc-
ing threats to small wild cats, baseline ecolo-
gical surveys using camera trap and animal
movement (radio or satellite) data have been
important to identify and assess the level of
threats. Additionally to the species presen-
tations, there were a number of workshops
and panel discussions (SOM T2). Participants
were given the opportunity to learn on how
to trap and collar small wild cats, analyse
animal movement data and collect biologi-
cal materials from small wild cats. Also the
newly developed data Science software,
“PantheraIDS”, a software offering advanced
machine learning capabilities to automa-
tically identify species from camera traps,
easy-to-use analytics and mapping tools,
cloud-based database infrastructure as well
as high level security, was presented. Repre-
sentatives from conservation funding organi-
sations shared their insight on fundraising for
small wild cat conservation and also pledged
increased future funding for small wild cats.
Concluding remarks
Are we doing enough to protect the world’s
small wild cats? Perhaps not! It was clear
from the ten species represented at the sum-
mit that small wild cat species are subject
to at least four major threats. These include;
habitat loss and degradation, human-small
wild cat conflict and associated retaliatory
killing (due to livestock, poultry or fish loss),
hunting and poaching, and vehicle collisions.
Other threats such as domestic animals, in-
breeding, prey declines, vermin control, and
diseases contracted from domestic animals
were less often reported, likely because
these issues remain less researched. As hu-
man populations increase, land-use change
reducing native natural habitat and urban
centres expand, human-small wild cat con-
flict and vehicle collisions will increase. On-
going conservation (in particular threat reduc-
tion) initiatives suggest that lasting changes
will likely require multifaceted and pluralistic
approaches. Such approaches should improve
laws and strengthen enforcement of existing
protective legislation, incorporate the results
of ecological and social science research, pro-
mote self-sustaining conservation strategies
and work towards making small wild cats val-
ued locally and globally.
There is a broad disparity in the laws sur-
rounding the management and protection
of small wild cats. For example, caracals in
South Africa are considered vermin and can
be legally killed to mitigate human-caracal
conflict under the South African Wildlife Act
(Avenant et al. 2016), while for other small
wild cats, protection laws are in place but
rarely enforced. Although protected, fishing
cats in Bangladesh and Cambodia are regu-
larly hunted and subject to retaliatory killing
as implementation of the law is weak. This
contrasts strongly with the situation in India,
where the fishing cat is granted the highest
legal protection, and conservation efforts
over the last decade have resulted in im-
proved law enforcement and punishment of
perpetrators. In neighbouring Nepal, laws
to protect this globally threatened felid are
entirely absent, however there are current
advocacy efforts to list the fishing cat as a
legally protected species. Regardless of
legal protection, there is scope to improve
the tolerance of local communities towards
small wild cats and reduce human small wild
cat conflict across the board. Innovative ap-
proaches, like creating community owned
and monitored livestock banks as a way to
replenish local loss of neighbours’ livestock
or poultry to small wild cats or as alternatives
to bushmeat poaching (as demonstrated for
fishing cats in India and African golden cat
Fig. 3. Ongoing interventions to reduce threats to small wild cats. From top row left: pre-
dator proof chicken coops against poultry loss to small wild cats (Photo Sagar Dahal), road
signs against Iriomote leopard cat vehicle collisions in Japan (Photo Nozomi Nakanishi),
public awareness initiatives (Photo Peruvian Desert Cat Project), rehabilitation facilities
for rescued small wild cats in Sri Lanka (Photo Ashan Thudugala), livestock guarding dogs
against predators (Photo Rodrigo Villalobos), piggery “pig seed banks” to dissuade poach-
ing in Uganda (Photo Embaka-Saving African golden cats), advocacy against poison use for
pest control in California (Photo Laurel Serieys) and vaccination of domestic dogs to prevent
disease transmission to wild cats in Chile (Photo Constanza Napolitano).
meeting report
CATnews 71 Spring 2020
in Uganda) need to be explored further and
applied across applicable species ranges.
Although the summit comprised a limited
number of participants, representing only
ten of 33 small wild cat species, we aim for
greater outreach and engagement with all in-
dividuals and organisations who work to con-
serve small wild cats. Funding (for participant
travel and accommodation) was a key chal-
lenge in organising this meeting and explains
the limited attendance and representation of
other small wild cat species. The next (third)
international Small Wild Cat Conservation
Summit in 2022 is envisaged to have a grea-
ter number of participants and more species
represented, enabling a larger and more dy-
namic global conversation about small wild
cat conservation.
Appel A., Mukherjee S. & Cheyne M. S. 2018. First
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Supporting Online Material SOM Tables T1 and T2
are available at
1 Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research,
Alfred-Kowalke-Straße 17, 10315 Berlin, Germany
* <>
2 Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation, P.O.
Box 44 Kabale, Uganda
3 Centre for Conservation of Natural Resources,
The University of Trans-Disciplinary Health
Sciences and Technology, India
4 Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation, 390
Rincon Rd Corrales, NM 87048-7619, USA
5 Small Cat Advocacy and Research, 381/14
Spring Hills Estate, Bowalawatta, 20024, Kandy,
Sri Lanka
6 Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas y Biodi-
versidad, Universidad de Los Lagos, Osorno,
7 Instituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad, Santiago,
8 Global Wildlife Conservation, Texas, USA
meeting report
Full-text available
The phylogeny and taxonomy of the Neotropical genus Leopardus (Felidae) has always been controversial, owing to the cryptic morphology, rapid diversification and instances of hybridization in this clade. We employ whole-genome sequencing data of 15 samples spanning all 8 recognized Leopardus species (IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group) to address how speciation, introgression and demographic events shaped their current diversity. We constructed a consensus phylogeny under the assumption of the multispecies coalescent, quantified the phylogenomic discordance found in the genome and conducted introgression tests to distinguish between incomplete lineage sorting and hybridization as sources of conflicting phylogenetic signal. To assess current genetic diversity in Leopardus, we hybridization as sources of conflicting phylogenetic signal. To assess current genetic diversity in Leopardus, we estimate genomic divergence, heterozygosity and runs of homozygosity in our samples. We show that the consensus phylogeny supports the recognition of Andean and Central American populations of northern tiger cat (L. tigrinus) as a distinct species, not closely related to the NE Brazilian population, and challenge the long-held notion of margay (L. wiedii) and ocelot (L. pardalis) as sister species. We detect historical hybridization between ocelot and the base of the ‘Oncifelis’ clade, and identify introgression between Geoffroy’s cat (L. geoffroyi) and southern tiger cat (L. guttulus). Consistent with a recent radiation, genetic divergence between species is relatively low, yet highly contrasting levels of heterozygosity indicate different demographic histories.
Full-text available
Understanding how human activities influence immune response to environmental stressors can support biodiversity conservation across increasingly urbanizing landscapes. We studied a bobcat (Lynx rufus) population in urban southern California that experienced a rapid population decline from 2002-2005 due to notoedric mange. Because anticoagulant rodenticide (AR) exposure was an underlying complication in mange deaths, we aimed to understand sublethal contributions of urbanization and ARs on 65 biochemical markers of immune and organ function. Variance in immunological variables was primarily associated with AR exposure and secondarily with urbanization. Use of urban habitat and AR exposure has pervasive, complex and predictable effects on biochemical markers of immune and organ function in free-ranging bobcats that include impacts on neutrophil, lymphocyte and cytokine populations, total bilirubin and phosphorus. We find evidence of both inflammatory response and immune suppression associated with urban land use and rat poison exposure that could influence susceptibility to opportunistic infections. Consequently, AR exposure may influence mortality and has population-level effects, as previous work in the focal population has revealed substantial mortality caused by mange infection. The secondary effects of anticoagulant exposure may be a worldwide, largely unrecognized problem affecting a variety of vertebrate species in human-dominated environments.
Full-text available
Caracals are widespread within the assessment region. They are considered highly adaptable and, within their distribution area, are found in virtually all habitats except the driest part of the Namib. They also tolerate high levels of human activity, and persist in most small stock areas in southern Africa, despite continuously high levels of persecution over many decades. In some regions it is even expected that Caracal numbers might have increased. Thus, the Least Concern listing remains. The use of blanket control measures over vast areas and the uncontrolled predation management efforts over virtually the total assessment region are, however, of concern. In the North West and Limpopo provinces, concerns have also been raised about hunting and live-removals. Ongoing monitoring, education efforts, and the continuous propagation of mitigation measures such as exclusion and precautionary techniques, the removal of proven damage-causing animals (DCAs), and sustaining sufficient levels of natural prey diversity and biomass on farmlands, should be a priority to prevent possible national declines. Attention must also be paid to the paucity of existing data about Caracal, especially on rangelands in southern Africa.
Full-text available
1. The current classification of the Felidae was reviewed by a panel of 22 experts divided into core, expert and review groups, which make up the Cat Classification Task Force CCTF of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group. 2. The principal aim of the CCTF was to produce a consensus on a revised classification of the Felidae for use by the IUCN. 3. Based on current published research, the CCTF has fully revised the classification of the Felidae at the level of genus, species and subspecies. 4. A novel traffic-light system was developed to indicate certainty of each taxon based on morphological, molecular, biogeographical and other evidence. A concordance of good evidence in the three principal categories was required to strongly support the acceptance of a taxon. 5. Where disagreements exist among members of the CCTF, these have been highlighted in the accounts for each species. Only further research will be able to answer the potential conflicts in existing data. 6. A total of 14 genera, 41 species and 77 subspecies is recognised by most members of the CCTF, which is a considerable change from the classification proposed by Wozencraft (2005), the last major revision of the Felidae. 7. Future areas of taxonomic research have been highlighted in order to answer current areas of uncertainty. 8. This classification of the Felidae will be reviewed every five years unless a major new piece of research requires a more rapid revision for the conservation benefit of felid species at risk of extinction.
Full-text available
The African golden cat Profelis aurata is a little known felid endemic to Africa's tropical forests. The golden cat is very poorly known but is currently the subject of two related studies in Uganda and Gabon, the first focused research efforts on the species. We conducted three systematic camera trap surveys in Kibale National Park, Uganda, and obtained 63 photographic captures of African golden cats at frequencies ranging from 0.53 to 1.35 captures per 100 trap days. We identified variation in capture rates between sites for golden cats and other species that warrants further investigation. These results will contribute to our ongoing research as we investigate golden cat ecology in the role of apex predator, intraguild interactions with other forest carnivores and responses to anthropogenic influences.
Full-text available
Anticoagulant rodenticides (ARs) are increasingly recognized as a threat to nontarget wildlife. High exposure to ARs has been documented globally in nontarget predatory species and linked to the high prevalence of an ectoparasitic disease, notoedric mange. In southern California, mange associated with AR exposure has been the proximate cause of a bobcat (Lynx rufus) population decline. We measured AR exposure in bobcats from two areas in southern California, examining seasonal, demographic and spatial risk factors across landscapes including natural and urbanized areas. The long-term study included bobcats sampled over a 16-year period (1997-2012) and a wide geographic area. We sampled blood (N = 206) and liver (N = 172) to examine exposure ante- and post-mortem. We detected high exposure prevalence (89 %, liver; 39 %, blood) and for individuals with paired liver and blood data (N = 64), 92 % were exposed. Moreover, the animals with the most complete sampling were exposed most frequently to three or more compounds. Toxicant exposure was associated with commercial, residential, and agricultural development. Bobcats of both sexes and age classes were found to be at high risk of exposure, and we documented fetal transfer of multiple ARs. We found a strong association between certain levels of exposure (ppm), and between multiple AR exposure events, and notoedric mange. AR exposure was prevalent throughout both regions sampled and throughout the 16-year time period in the long-term study. ARs pose a substantial threat to bobcats, and likely other mammalian and avian predators, living at the urban-wildland interface.
Full-text available
The small (2- to 7-kg) leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) is the most common cat species in Asia. Although it occurs in a wide range of habitats and seems to adapt well to anthropogenic habitat changes, surprisingly little is known about this species in the wild. All studies have focused on protected areas, although a large proportion of Southeast Asian forests are timber concessions. During this study, we used large camera-trapping data sets (783 records of 124 individuals) from 3 commercially used forests to investigate consequences of different logging regimes on density and habitat associations of the leopard cat. We applied spatial capture—recapture models accounting for the location of camera-traps (on or off road) to obtain estimates of leopard cat density. Density was higher in the 2 more disturbed forest reserves (X̄ = 12.4 individuals/100 km 2 ± 1.6 SE and 16.5 ± 2 individuals/100 km 2 ) than in the sustainably managed forest (9.6 ± 1.7 individuals/100 km 2 ). Encounter rates with off-road traps were only 3.6—9.1% of those for on-road traps. Occupancy models, which accounted for spatial autocorrelation between sampling sites by using a conditional autoregressive model, revealed that canopy closure and ratio of climax to pioneer trees had a significantly negative impact on leopard cat occurrence. Our results confirm that the leopard cat is doing well in modified landscapes and even seems to benefit from the opening of forests. With such flexibility the leopard cat is an exception among tropical rain-forest carnivores.
Full-text available
We placed camera traps for a month at sixty locations in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to determine the species composition and distribution of medium-to-large terrestrial vertebrates. A total of 15912 images were recorded from 1800 camera trap days. These provided a total of 625 and 338 camera events when filtered by hour and day, respectively. Twenty mammal species were recorded from 594 and 314 camera events by hour and day, respectively. Four bird species were recorded from 31 and 24 camera events by hour and day, respectively. The African golden cat Profelis aurata Temminck was recorded from 27 and nineteen camera events by hour and day, respectively. The black-fronted duiker Cephalophus nigrifrons Gray was most frequently photographed with 179 and 65 camera events by hour and day, respectively. Analyses reveal two species possessed a significantly interior-biased distribution. One species showed an edge-biased pattern. Five species were detected to have significantly biased altitudinal distributions with higher elevations. Distance to park edge and elevation can significantly influence species distribution. The selective use of the park limits the area that each species utilizes, with implications for maximum population sizes and viability. Our observations provide a baseline for long-term terrestrial vertebrate monitoring in Bwindi.
Full-text available
The use of camera traps for wildlife research and monitoring is increasing and this is yielding signifi-cant observations at an accelerating pace. Yet many potentially valuable observations are overlooked, misinterpreted or withheld. Using our first-ever images of a wild African golden cat (Caracal aurata) catching prey, we consider practical challenges and opportunities for more effective image management systems. In particular we highlight the benefits of online image archives and assessments. Little is known about most of the world's mammal species especially in habitats, such as rugged mountain forests, where sites are hard to access and species are elusive. In this context technical developments such as camera traps offer exciting advances. Yet our abilities to collect such data increasingly outpace our capacity to evaluate them. We need help. In this communication we first report the increas-ing use of camera traps. Next we introduce and detail an example in which we almost missed the first recorded images of an African golden cat (Caracal aurata) catching prey. Such examples illustrate the challenges many of us face in handling data. We then consider how an online volunteer-centred 'citizen science' system could improve our assessments. THE INCREASING USE OF CAMERA TRAPS Camera traps are automated, motion-or heat-triggered, cameras. These cameras offer various advantages over other wildlife survey and monitor-ing approaches (e.g. Cutler & Swann 1999; Silveira et al. 2003; De Bondi et al. 2010; Espartosa et al. 2011; Burton 2012). Though once expensive, technically demanding and delicate (e.g. Rice 1995; Cutler & Swann 1999), such cameras have become progressively cheaper, simpler and more reliable. The result is that camera use is increasing and images are being gathered at an accelerating rate (Pyle 2003; Rowcliffe & Carbone 2008). The growing worldwide use of these cameras raises the frequency of valuable but unanticipated obser-vations. New species, remarkable behaviours, and surprising range extensions are being reported (e.g. Rovero et al. 2005; Rovero et al. 2008; Dobson & Nowak 2010). But the assessment and sharing of significant wildlife images, and related information, is a demanding and imperfect process. Interesting images are easily overlooked. Keyword Iran
Abstract Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia virus (FeLV) are two of the most common viruses affecting domestic cats (Felis catus). During the last two decades, reports show that both viruses also infect or affect other species of the family Felidae. Human landscape perturbation is one of the main causes of emerging diseases in wild animals, facilitating contact and transmission of pathogens between domestic and wild animals. We investigated FIV and FeLV infection in free-ranging guignas (Leopardus guigna) and sympatric domestic cats in human perturbed landscapes on Chiloé Island, Chile. Samples from 78 domestic cats and 15 guignas were collected from 2008 to 2010 and analyzed by PCR amplification and sequencing. Two guignas and two domestic cats were positive for FIV; three guignas and 26 domestic cats were positive for FeLV. The high percentage of nucleotide identity of FIV and FeLV sequences from both species suggests possible interspecies transmission of viruses, facilitated by increased contact probability through human invasion into natural habitats, fragmentation of guigna habitat, and poultry attacks by guignas. This study enhances our knowledge on the transmission of pathogens from domestic to wild animals in the global scenario of human landscape perturbation and emerging diseases.
Mammalian carnivores are particularly vulnerable to extinction in fragmented landscapes, and their disappearance may lead to increased numbers of smaller carnivores that are principle predators of birds and other small vertebrates. Such `mesopredator release' has been implicated in the decline and extinction of prey species. Because experimental manipulation of carnivores is logistically, financially and ethically problematic,, however, few studies have evaluated how trophic cascades generated by the decline of dominant predators combine with other fragmentation effects to influence species diversity in terrestrial systems. Although the mesopredator release hypothesis has received only limited critical evaluation and remains controversial, it has become the basis for conservation programmes justifying the protection of carnivores. Here we describe a study that exploits spatial and temporal variation in the distribution and abundance of an apex predator, the coyote, in a landscape fragmented by development. It appears that the decline and disappearance of the coyote, in conjunction with the effects of habitat fragmentation, affect the distribution and abundance of smaller carnivores and the persistence of their avian prey.