Cat News Nr 62


Down with the Iberian lynx!

In the June 2015 update of the Red List, the Iberian lynx Lynx pardinus was down-listed to Endangered. You know that a species was really in deep trouble if listing it as Endangered is good news! As a matter of fact, in 2002, when the Iberian lynx as the first cat species ever had to be up-listed to Critically Endangered, the situation was extremely dangerous. I then considered the prospect that the species would go extinct more realistic than that it would survive. Luckily, I was wrong.

In 2002, only 94 Iberian lynx (52 mature individuals) had survived in the last two nuclei in Doñana National Park and in the Andújar region in the Sierra Morena, and no conservation breeding programme for this threatened species had been established. As a matter of fact, the first Iberian lynx was born in captivity only 10 years ago, in 2005.

In 2014, 327 lynx (189 MI) roam again in the two remnant and two reintroduced populations in Andalucía, and some additional animals live in the newly founded populations in Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura and Portugal. The Andalucían lynx has become the Iberian lynx again! Five breeding centres with 79 enclosures in Spain and Portugal nowadays produce lynx for the reintroduction programme. 100 lynx born in captivity were already released, and an additional 25 were translocated from the Andújar population to support the newly founded populations. The release areas are prepared by intensive work to improve the habitat, to enhance the rabbit density and to gain the support of local people. The in situ procedures were originally developed to stabilise the remnant populations. The main problems were epizootic diseases pushing the rabbit density below the threshold needed for lynx to reproduce, and the destruction of the traditional semi-open Mediterranean bushland habitat through overgrazing or timber plantations.

Rabbit diseases remain the major threat to the lynx. The stronghold of the species, the Andújar population, has been decreasing again since 2011, when another outbreak of RHD hit the local rabbit population. But the wider the distribution range of the lynx gets and the more new populations are reintroduced, the less likely it is that a local rabbit epizootic will affect the entire lynx population. The future looks much brighter for the Iberian lynx than 13 years ago: We have the in situ instruments, we have a well-functioning conservation breeding programme, and we have a strong commitment of the Spanish, Portuguese, and European institutions to save this species.

The start of the conservation programme was difficult, overshadowed by severe disagreement over competences and the best conservation strategy and in situ procedures between the authorities in Madrid and Sevilla, but also between conservation practitioners and scientists. The Iberian lynx was a hot issue, and each decision was controversially discussed in the public. The fear of making errors was paralyzing, and important decisions were delayed. But there is no action without risk, and action was urgently needed.

From our present perspective, the recovery strategy outlined and the field procedures developed in the early years of the conservation programmes work. We will always experience (local) setbacks, and there is a continued need for careful monitoring and adjustment, but what we can say at the moment is that we need more of the same. “Endangered” is by no means a satisfying listing, and tomorrow – after today’s celebration of the down-listing – we need to tackle the task to bring the Iberian lynx down to Vulnerable!

“More of the same” includes commitment, endurance, patience – and funding. The conservation of the Iberian lynx has so far costed some 100,000,000 Euro. The bulk came from the European Union through the Life programme, but public and private institutions in the two range countries have contributed, too. Conservationists – used to modest budgets and funding – may be shocked about this figure. But, in fact, this was the price to save a large mammal species in Western Europe from certain extinction. This implies not only in situ work and conservation breeding, but also habitat restoration and traffic infrastructure to provide save passages. It was worth every Euro, also from an economic point of view. This money was spent on intensive work in the historic range of the Iberian lynx, which happens to be a region suffering from a severe economic crisis. Conservation can also create jobs.

And hard labour it was, not only physically, but mentally. The IBERLINCE team (so the name of the Life programme) coordinated by Miguel Angel Simón Mata, has done a great job to preserve this species, and I would like to congratulate all of them to this important intermediate goal that we are celebrating here: The first down-listing of the Iberian lynx.

Urs Breitenmoser

Human-fishing cat conflicts and conservation needs of fishing cats in Bangladesh by S. Chowdhury, A. R. Chowdhury, S. Ahmed and S. Bin Muzaffar

Bangladesh is known as one of the key countries of the fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus, which is now recognized as a globally endangered species in response to its potentially rapid population declines in the last decade primarily due to habitat loss. We analysed media coverage of two major daily newspapers and interviewed local forest officials and conservationists in order to understand human-fishing cat conflicts, the distribution of human-fishing cat conflicts, current management practices and public perceptions. Content analysis of a total of 82 reports on the fishing cat in local and national newspapers revealed 30 confirmed deaths in four years. Other reports included 18 rescue-release cases by the Forest Department of Bangladesh. However, the status of the cats in 38 cases remained undetermined, as there was not enough information in the news reports. A survey of fishing cat habitat inside and outside protected areas throughout Bangladesh is essential. A management plan involving local conservation groups based in villages adjacent to wetlands can help reduce possible human-fishing cat conflicts and notify local wildlife authorities to take necessary conservation actions.


Supporting Online Material

Figures 1-3

Recent records of fishing cat and its conservation in coastal South India by A. Naidu, M. Kantimahanti, N. P. Kumar, K. Thompson, S. S. Sreedhar and A. Rao

In coastal South India, the first published records of confirmed evidence-based observationsof fishing cats Prionailurus viverrinus were in 2006, and then again in 2012 and 2014, all from the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary in the state of Andhra Pradesh. With the use of recent local news articles, interviews with local people, field tracking, and camera-trap surveys outside protected areas, we recorded fishing cats in severalmore locations along the coastline of Andhra Pradesh from November 2013 until August 2014. We present our findings through an online, interactive map and promote the need for data sharing on fishing cats. Based on the reports and our preliminary findings, we surmise that the Krishna and Coringa Wildlife Sanctuaries and proximal mangroves probably hold the southernmost, sizeable populations of fishing cats in India. We also provide details on needed community-based measures for the long-term conservation of fishing cats in this region.


Supporting Online Material

Figures 1-3

The bay cat in Kalimantan, new information from recent sightings by W. J. Sastramidjaja, S. M. Cheyne, B. Loken and D. M. Macdonald

Through the use of camera traps we present new information on the distribution of bay cats Catopuma badia in Kalimantan including two new confirmed locations. Nine sites were surveyed between 2011-2014 across Central and East Kalimantan. All new photographs were taken during daylight hours and only 1 of 4 cats was captured near water. We consider the presence and non-detection of bay cats in differentforest types and at different elevations noting that the photos were obtained from cameras placed at or higher than the average altitude of the whole camera grid at each site and all from disturbed forest. The distribution of cameras is not believed to affect detection of bay cats as long as all micro-habitat types are surveyed. We highlight the priority of peat-swamp forests for additional survey effort.


Supporting Online Material

Table 1 and Figures 1-2

An interesting morph of the Borneo bay cat in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo by A. Ampeng, S. Ahmad, S. Osman, M. Bujang and A. Bujang

A black morph Borneo bay cat Catopuma badia was recorded at Gunong Pueh Forest Reserve, located in the most western part of Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. This is the first record of a black morph from a survey effort totalling 10,066 trap nights in which the species coloration recorded had either a reddish bay coat or a blackish grey coat.


Supporting Online Material

Figures 1-2

First confirmation of a marbled cat in northern Cambodia by A. Suzuki, T. Sokha, T. Setha and A. Iwata

The status of the marbled cat Pardofelis marmorata in Cambodia remains poorly understood, although a recent review indicates the importance of this country in regional conservation of the species. An investigation of its status is encouraged to plan appropriate conservation measures. One individual was photographed in the evergreen forests in a former logging concession in Preah Vihear Province, North Cambodia. This first documentation of a marbled cat substantiates the predictionthat they may inhabit the evergreen forests of North Cambodia.

Survival of a wild female marbled cat to at least 10 years of age by C. Borries, L. I. Grassman, Jr., E. Larney, M. E. Tewes and A. Koenig

We report the sighting of a radio-collared, female marbled cat Pardofelis marmorata on 13 January 2006 at the Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand. The individual had been caught and collared on 31 May 2000 and was estimated to be about 4 years old at the time. This event confirms the survival of an individual to at least 10 years of age in the wild.

First confirmed record of marbled cat in Bangladesh by M. M. H. Khan

In Bangladesh there was no definite record of the marbled cat Pardofelis marmorata, but it was expected to occur in the hill forests of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. In March 2013, a mother with a kitten was spotted by a domestic dog of a local Khasia man in low hills in the southern border of Srimangal sub-district (24°11'17'' N and 91°44'56'' E; altitude ca. 68 m) under Moulvibazar district, Bangladesh. The dog captured (bit) the kitten. Eventually the kitten was sent to Srimangal town where it grew up in captivity, feeding on supplied cow milk in the first six months and later on meat of domestic chicken and pigeon.


Supporting Online Material

Figures 1-2

Social interaction and co-occurrence of colour morphs of the Asiatic golden cat, Bhutan by K. Vernes, T. Sangay, R. Rajaratnam and R. Singye

During a short camera trapping survey along an altitudinal gradient in central Bhutan, we detected two colour morphs of the Asiatic golden cat Catopuma temminckii socially interacting in the same photo frames. A series of camera trap photos showed an individual of the typical golden morph and another of the considerablyrarer spotted or 'ocelot' morph appear at a camera, before a brief bout of 'play fighting'. This is the first time that we are aware of these two colour morphs detected together as a social grouping. During the same survey, we also recorded the grey and black morphs of the Asiatic golden cat, further revealing for the first time that these four colour morphs co-occur at the same locality. Additionally, our data also support previous work that suggested diurnal/crepuscular activity patternsfor Asiatic golden cats in Bhutan.


Supporting Online Material

Table 1

Records of rusty-spotted cat, Sri Lankamalleshwara Wildlife Sanctuary, India by S. Mali and C. Srinivasulu

The rusty-spotted cat Prionailurus rubiginosus is India's smallest arboreal to semi-arboreal cat that has been practically known from most of India except the north-east of the country. From Andhra Pradesh this species has been earlier reported from Nellore and Kurnool districts. We report here the presence of the rusty-spottedcat from Sri Lankamalleshwara Wildlife Sanctuary in Kadapa district of AndhraPradesh based on 18 camera trap records collected between February 2011 and June 2014. Additionally we give the site records of the rusty-spotted cat from India based on published literature and provide an insight on its distribution in scrub-dominated habitat in southern Andhra Pradesh.


Supporting Online Material

Figure 1 and Table 1

Recent records of rusty-spotted cat in dry deciduous forest of Tadoba, Maharashtra, India by M. Davate, N. Chatterjee, A. Dashahre, B. Habib, P. Nigam, M. Trivedi, G. P. Garad, A. Kalaskar and P. Ghaskadbi

Recent observations of rusty-spotted cat Prionailurus rubiginosus in a dry deciduousforest in Central India are reported. The animal was photographed twice in the repetitive trapping sessions in 2014 and 2015 at different locations in Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra. The ecological information on RSC is scanty for this landscape, therefore such records frame a big picture about its distribution and habitat preference.

Tiger dispersals in the semi-arid landscape of north-west India by S. Shah, S. Nayak and J. Borah

The Western India Tiger Landscape WITL is a term coined by WWF-India under its Species and Landscape Programme to describe the semi-arid landscape of north-west India that varies from dense forests to human-dominated corridors. To understandthe historical and present dispersal of tigers Panthera tigris, we carried out a thorough investigation, walked and drove through each forest block, and interviewedas many individuals as possible to understand movement of tigers and other cats in the landscape in the past. We also considered secondary information from the state forest departments, princely state members, ex-poachers and media news of large cats. The basic methods we used were semi-structured interviews and discussions with stakeholders like forest department officers and community leaders. A basic map has been prepared to show the areas of dispersal used in the past. Although the response from forest department officials and analysis of medianews have given similar results, discussions with members of princely states revealed many untold stories of the historical distribution of tigers. Ranthambore Tiger Reserve has a higher tiger population than its carrying capacity and undoubtedlyacts as a source population for neighbouring protected areas. Records of tiger dispersal from Ranthambore only exist since 1999-2000. However, many cases of dispersal have not been written down. The landscape is fragmented with multipleland-use practices, from gorges to croplands and ravines to mining zones, and the tributaries of the Chambal River are important for tiger dispersal.

Observation of patrolling behaviour in male lions in Gir Protected Area, India by V. Meena

In case of lions, it is well established that holding territory and control of pride femalesis important for male coalition fitness. In this regard, maintaining and guarding territory is important to ensure that dependent cubs reach recruitment age. I present the patrolling behaviour of male Asiatic lions Panthera leo persica that defend pride territories rather than individual prides. I report details of vocalization and patrolling behaviour of male lions based on a five year study. Adult males invest considerable time in advertising their territory when compared to subadults, nomads and adult females implying that this behaviour is an important life history strategy. More specific,detailed investigations are recommended to understand patrolling behaviour specifically in the context of reproductive strategies of male lions.

Capturing an old problem Persian leopard close to the Iran-Turkmenistan border by M. S. Farhadinia, I. Memarian, A. Shahrdari, M. Taghdisi, B. Jafari, M. Molazem, F. Moghani and D. W. Macdonald

A Persian leopard Panthera pardus saxicolor was habitually attacking domestic animals near the village of Tazeh Ghaleh in northeastern Iran. Initially, during summer 2014, it killed mainly small livestock, before switching predominantly to herd dogs. Moreover, the leopard attacked three people. In October 2014, the villagers reported the situation to the local authorities, seeking a solution. Therefore, the Iranian Departmentof Environment considered live-capturing and translocation of the animal to a nearby reserve. Foot-snares were set at three locations within the village's territory.The leopard was captured on the third night, the snare had been set close to the carcass of a dog it had killed recently. The leopard was safely anaesthetised, biometrical measurements and samples taken. Its dentition indicated that the animal,a male, was old, estimated at more than 10 years. Biochemical examination of the blood sample revealed severe hepatic and renal problems. Although contingency plans for translocation had been made, as events unfolded it was concluded that the animal was not suitable for release into the wild, and should be held in captivity underintensive veterinary care. Therefore, the leopard was translocated to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Tehran. Carefully documented individual cases, such as this, illustrate vividly the practicalities of tackling human-carnivore conflict, and the need to respond adaptively as each situation unfolds.


Supporting Online Material

Figures 1-2 and Tables 1-3

Camera trapping of Arabian leopard in the Nejd region of Dhofar Mountains by H. Al Hikmani, N. Zaabanoot and A. Zaabanoot

Little is known about the current presence of the Arabian leopard Panthera pardus nimr in the Nejd region of Dhofar Mountains. We report here the first camera trapping records of this critically endangered subspecies in Wadi Amat.

Cat eats cat: leopard consumes adult cheetah, Maasai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya by F. Broekhuis

Hostile interactions between carnivores are not uncommon. Indeed, interspecific killings have been documented in up to 97 pairs of carnivores. For example, it is well documented that lions Panthera leo and spotted hyaenas Crocuta crocuta kill cheetah Acinonyx jubatus cubs and adults, with few records existing of predationby leopards P. pardus. However, less is known to what extent the killed cheetahs are consumed. To my knowledge there are no published records of a predator entirely consuming an adult cheetah. However, on 5 and 6 December 2014 I witnessed an adult male leopard feeding on an adult female cheetah until it was entirely consumed.

Camera-trapping and capture-recapture models for estimating cheetah density by L. K. Boast, H. Reeves and R. Klein

Camera-trap surveys have been used for a variety of species to estimate their densityfor conservation management. Previous cheetah Acinonyx jubatus camera-trap surveys have used capture-recapture analysis to calculate density from species abundance, by using estimations of cheetah's movements to determine the size of the sampling area. However, this method often overestimates species density. This study used a more recently developed spatial capture-recapture model to calculate cheetah density as 0.32 cheetahs/100 km² on commercial farmland in Botswana. However, the precision of the density estimate was limited by the number of cheetahs photographed, a common problem in low-density species. We therefore offer recommendationsto increase the precision of future camera-trap density estimates.

Records of black jaguars at Parque Nacional Barbilla, Costa Rica by C. Sáenz-Bolaños, V. Montalvo, T. K. Fuller and E. Carrillo

Melanism in jaguars Panthera onca is rarely reported quantitatively, despite the suggestionthat it appears to be more common than for any other large cats. Using cameratraps in Parque Nacional Barbilla, Costa Rica, we obtained videos of more than 2 black and more than 3 yellow jaguars during April 2013 - January 2014. One previous record of a black jaguar has been reported from Costa Rica, but extensive camera trapping throughout the species' range has revealed few other records. We suspect that melanism in jaguars is rare, and thus, identifying the ecological circumstances under which black jaguars are more common will likely be elusive.

Causes of jaguar killing in Panama - a long term survey using interviews by R. Moreno, N. Meyer, M. Olmos, R. Hoogsteijn and A. L. Hoogesteijn

We present quantitative data on reported causes of jaguar (Panthera onca) killing in Panama. Between the years 1998 and 2014 we interviewed qualified informants and local stakeholders. Data suggest that from 1989 to 2014 humans killed at least 230 jaguars. Of those 220 died because of retaliation to predation episodes, seven died for the sale of products and as trophies, and three were hunted because of fear to the animal. Information indicates that the existing wildlife protection laws are not enforced. A time-trend analysis suggest that if no interference is exerted killing reports will increase, further endangering jaguar survival in Panama.

The queen of Tikal and her suitors by R. García-Anleu, G. Ponce-Santizo, R. B. Mcnab, J. Polisar, A. Noss, J. Moreira and G. Ruano

Camera-trap surveys repeated in Guatemala's Tikal National Park, Maya Biosphere Reserve, in 2005 and 2009 recorded the same number of jaguars Panthera onca. However, only one individual, the sole confirmed female, was photographed in both surveys, whereas the turn-over of male and unsexed individuals was complete. These results confirm the importance of Tikal for the conservation of the Selva Maya's jaguar population, female site fidelity and reproduction at the site, as well as considerable overlap in male ranges.


Supporting Online Material

Table 1