Cat News Nr 63


CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and CMS, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, jointly organised a lion meeting for the African range states in Entebbe, Uganda, on 30–31 May 2016. The meeting was led by Clara Nobbe from CMS Secretariat and Tom De Meulenaer from CITES Secretariat. 28 African lion range states were present, making this meeting the best attended lion conference ever. The only missing countries with extant populations were Rwanda, South Soudan, Tanzania, and Mozambique.

The main topic was to discuss the possible listing of the lion under CMS, based on Res. 11.32/2014, asking the CMS Secretariat to (1) commission a review of the status of lion with regard to the implementation of the 2006 Regional Strategies, (2) consult the lion range states about the possible listing of the lion under CMS Appendix II, and (3) prepare the respective topic for CMS CoP 12 in 2017. Appendix II covers migratory species that have an unfavourable conservation status and that require international agreements for their conservation and management. Most range states seem to be in favour of listing the lion under CMS A-II, though some questioned the added value CMS could bring and the southern range states expressed their preventive opposition against a listing in Appendix I (which would restrict harvesting). So far, of all the cats, snow leopard and cheetah are listed under CMS, but we have no practical experience yet what CMS can add to their conservation. In principle, CMS could support the transboundary conservation of populations spreading across international borders by facilitating international agreements. Lion conservation could certainly benefit from such cooperation, especially in Central and West Africa. But all such plans finally depend on the effective implementation of conservation actions, and in this respect, the CMS West African Elephant Memorandum of Understanding, signed in 2005, has not given raise for much hope. The range wide conservation planning process for the cheetah will only now enter the phase where measures at the landscape level are required, which CMS is expected to support by facilitating the cooperation between range states sharing populations.

An important working document for the meeting was a report prepared by Hans Bauer and co-authors on behalf of CMS, reviewing the Lion Conservation Strategies developed in 2006. The report concluded that the threats then identified are all still effective (and that lion bone trade may add a new one) and that the objectives and activities proposed in the Strategies are still valid. The expectation was that the Strategies would be implemented through National Action Plans. Indeed, several countries have developed NAPs, but many have not, and transboundary agreements are rare with exception of some conservation plans for transboundary protected areas. But especially in Central and West Africa, where international cooperation in lion conservation would be crucial, NAPs and transboundary agreements are scarce. In so far, a revitalisation of the implementation of the Strategies also with the help of international treaties would be most welcome. The two main topics with regard to CITES were the proposal by Niger and 10 additional range states for up-listing the lion from Appendix II to Appendix I under CITES, and the Periodic Review lead by Namibia and Kenya. The Niger et al. proposal will be discussed at the CITES CoP 17 in Johannesburg in September 2016. A decision on the proposal by the CoP will terminate the Periodic Review, although it is not yet completed. Niger presented the CITES up-listing proposal and justified it as an important global call and signal for better lion conservation. The proposal divides the African lion range states. The southern African countries oppose the up-listing with the argument that their lion populations are wellpreserved and well managed and can stay a legal harvest through trophy hunting. The only support for their position from West Africa came from Burkina Faso. The representative of this country argued that lions are mainly found within hunting concessions and that a ban of lion hunting would remove the main incentive for conserving lions.

The controversial discussion about lion trophy hunting is dominating much of the lion debate and was also present at the meeting, though trophy hunting is by far not the most important threat to lions. During the days of the lion meeting, South Korea’s president Park Geun-Hye visited Uganda for the opening ceremony of a modern centre for training of Ugandan farmers, as I learnt from the newspaper on 31 May 2016. The new National Farmers Leadership Centre should give the country access to modern agricultural technology and initialise a development as started in South Korea some decades ago. The new centre and the prospective of a more efficient agriculture is indeed something to welcome for an African country. But in the same newspaper, I read a background article about the new centre that put me in a contemplative mood. The article claimed that Uganda has the potential to feed 200 million people. The present population is about 40 million. The new agricultural technology will allow using lands where it was so far not possible to grow crops. Maybe if we are looking back in a few decades, we will find that our dispute on lion trophy hunting was like a discussion on the quality of the cuisine on Titanic.

A report on and the final communiqué of the meeting can be downloaded at:

Urs Breitenmoser

Seasonal use of the upper montane forests by the jaguar in northern Argentina by N. L. Ocampo, N. A. Nigro and F. Falke

Using camera traps between December 2011 and March 2013 in an area of montaneforest bordering cloud grasslands at an altitude ov above 2,300 m, we investigated the seasonal use of the upper montane forests of Argentina by jaguars. We confirmed that the jaguar is present and uses areas above 2,300 m throughout the year, but with a marked difference across seasons.

Predation of an adult puma by an anaconda in south-eastern Brazil by S. M. C. Cavalcanti, P. G. Jr. Crawshaw, L. Pires, M. E. B. Santiago and T. C. Rech

We report the predation of a puma Puma concolor by an adult anaconda Eunectes murinus that occurred in south-eastern Brazil. Despite the death of both animals, the incident raises important questions regarding the role they play in their respectiveniches in the wild.


Supporting Online Material

Figures 1-3

Sand cats in the Moroccan Sahara - preliminary results of a new study by G. Breton, A. Sliwa, S. Azizi and A. Essalhi

We report on the North African subspecies of the sand cat Felis margarita margarita and other desert carnivores in the Moroccan Sahara. The study was initiated in December 2015 under the approval of the Haut Commissariat aux Eaux et Forêts età la Lutte Contre la Désertification, and during 12 days of fieldwork, six carnivore species were observed: two felids (including the sand cat), three canids and one mustelid. The four sand cats seen, two males and two females, were captured, anaesthetized and fitted with GPS or VHF collars. We collected new morphological data, then followed two of them regularly, one less frequently, for several days and nights including observation of hunting sequences. High quality photographs of the sand cats were taken and preliminary results on home-ranges and behaviour are presented here.


Supporting Online Material

Table 1 and Figures F1-F4

Sand cat sightings in Niger and Chad by T. Rabeil, T. Wacher and J. Newby

The sand cat Felis margarita is one of the world’s least studied cats. One consequence is that the African range of this species is poorly known and only few details of its ecology and behaviour are documented. Recent observations in Chad and Niger recorded during fieldwork carried out by the Sahara Conservation Fund SCF and the Zoological Society of London ZSL provide new insights on distribution and behaviour, outlining a significant extension of known range, suggesting presence over a very large area of potential habitat in the Sahara.

Recent records of wild cats in the Boé sector of Guinea Bissau by M. J. Breider, A. Goedmakers, P. Wit, G. S. Niezing and A. Sila

Chimbo Foundation implements a community based conservation program of the Western chimpanzee Pan troglodytes verus in the Boé sector of Guinea Bissau. In 2014 trail-cameras trapped an African golden cat Caracal aurata – this is a new record for the country – and in 2015 caracal Caracal caracal. In the same year lion Panthera leo was recorded by trail-cameras, a valuable proof of the presence of a species in heavy decline over its West-African range.


Supporting Online Material


Distribution update: confirmation of wildcat in central and southern Saudi Arabia by C. Barichievy and T. Wacher

We present new location records for African wildcat Felis silvestris lybica in central and northern Saudi Arabia. These records are substantially different from previously recorded and modelled distributions, indicating that wildcats are likely to be found throughout the Arabian shield.

First record of fishing cat in Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, Agra, India by S. Prerna, B. Raj, V. Sharma, G. Seshamani and K. Satayanarayan

The fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus is a wetland dependant endangered species. Its population shows a decreasing trend all across its distribution. In the last decade, there have been many records of presence of fishing cat in India. On 18 February 2016 in the morning, a dead fishing cat was spotted on the National Highway 2 in Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, Agra, India. This is the first record of the presence of fishing cat within this sanctuary.

Fishing cat may not be extirpated in Pakistan: a call to survey coastal mangroves by F. Zubairi and A. Naidu

Since the last assessment of the fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus by the IUCN Red List in 2010, it has been assumed that this species may have been extirpated from Pakistan. However, recently published articles, surveys, and an incident of a captive fishing cat in southern Pakistan indicate that some populations might still occur in the country. Immediate field surveys for the species are warranted, especially, based on occurrence elsewhere in its range, in mangroves southeast of Karachi. Should fishing cats be found there, global species records and national protection efforts will need enhancement.

Historical evidence of Pallas's cat in Nyesyang valley, Manang, Nepal by R. P. Lama, P. O'Connor, K. Andre, T. R. Ghale and G. R. Regmi

Pallas’s cat Otocolobus manul skin was found with local people of Manang district, Nepal in 1987 when two of the co-authors (Paul O’Connor and Kea Andre) travelled there to film snow leopards. This evidence suggests that the Pallas’s cat has historically been living in Nyesyang valley. The specimen was hidden away as a private specimen and was not offered for sale in contrast with other carnivores known from the area, which were on offer to tourists for sale. Since the information on this rare Pallas’s cat is very scanty, this short communication will help to increase the knowledge about this cat in Nepal Himalaya.

Clouded leopard co-exists with six other felids in Royal Manas National Park, Bhutan by T. Dhendup, T. Tempa and U. Tenzin

Seven species of wild cats were camera trapped in Royal Manas National Park making it one of the parks with the highest diversity of wildcats in the world and hence rightly the title, ‘hotspot of felid diversity’. The camera trapped species weretiger Panthera tigris, leopard Panthera pardus, clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa, Asiatic golden cat Captopuma temminckii, marbled cat Pardofelis marmorata, leopard cat Priornailurus bengalensis and jungle cat Felis chaus. Fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus still remains to be confirmed. We report at least 11 individual clouded leopards in the study site and we suggest that their habitats could be threatened by human disturbances but data is insufficient to determine whether the threat is significant.

Rusty-spotted cat in Kalesar National Park and Sanctuary, Haryana, India by P. Ghaskadbi, B. Habib, Z. Mir, R. Ray, G. Talukdar, S. Lyngdoh, B. Pandav, P. Nigam and A. Kaur

The rusty-spotted cat Prionailurus rubiginosus, endemic to India and Sri Lanka,is one of the world’s smallest cats. Listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List since 2002 (Khan & Mukherjee 2008), this species has only been moderately studied, and increasingly new distribution records are a testimony to how little is known about these small cats. We would like to report a new distribution record for therusty-spotted cat from the Kalesar National Park and Sanctuary KNPS in the state of Haryana in northern India (Fig. 1). This forest is primarily a sal and khair forest interspersed with grasslands and is also the westernmost limit of naturally occurring sal forest in the country. KNPS is situated in the foothills of Himalayas in the Shivalik Hill Range, which runs along the eastern side of the forest.

Detection of a snow leopard population in northern Bortala, Xinjiang, China by P. Guoliang, J. S. Alexander, P. Riordan, K. Shi, Kederhan and H. Yang

We substantiate the presence of snow leopards Panthera uncia using camera traps within the Dzungarian Alatau range in Bortala Mongolia Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang Province, China. A total of 13 camera trap stations were set up in 2012 and a total of 14 camera trap stations in 2013 within an area of 192 km². A total of 11-15 individual adult snow leopards and two sub adults were identified from photo captures of sufficient quality. A range of human activities were noted withinand surrounding the survey area, including livestock herding and mining. We recommend more large scale and intensive camera trap surveys to further assess the population status of the snow leopard within this area.

Chinese mountain cat and Pallas's cat co-existing on the Tibetan Plateau in Sichuan by R. Webb, S. Francis, P. Telfer and A. Guillemont

Chinese mountain cat Felis bieti remained virtually unknown in the wild until Yinet al. (2007) presented the first photographs of the species in the wild taken on the Tibetan Plateau. Sanderson et al. (2010) provide an excellent overview of what is known about the species but to date there appears to be little information on the species ability to co-exist alongside other carnivores. Here we provide what appears to be the first evidence of Chinese mountain cat living alongside both Pallas’s cat Otocolobus manul and Tibetan fox Vulpes ferrilata in the Rouergai areaon the Tibetan Plateau in Sichuan.

Dead Muller's maroon langur: predation or scavenging by Sunda clouded leopard? by A. J. Giordano and Rustam

Among the least known aspects of the Sunda clouded leopard’s Neofelis diardi ecology is its use of available prey species. Here we document the partial remainsof a maroon langur encountered during camera-trapping activities in a protected forest of southern Indonesian Borneo. We believe the carcass represents the first evidence of this highly arboreal primate species as prey of a free-ranging Sunda clouded leopard, and the second published account of primate prey for the felid on Borneo.


Supporting Online Material

Figure 1

The integrated tiger habitat conservation programme - progress to date by S. Roy, T. Gelsi and J.-C. Vié

The Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme (ITHCP) was set up in 2014, financed by the German Government through KfW and implemented by IUCN. The entire 5-year programme has a value of € 20 million.

Conflict in Yemen threatens the Arabian leopard by R. Bürki and U. Breitenmoser

The Arabian leopard Panthera pardus nimr is Critically Endangered and an international conservation breeding programme has been put in place. Attempts to integrate the captive Arabian leopards in Yemen into the programme have so far failed. Currently, the ongoing civil war in Yemen not only threatens the human population, but also the largest group of leopards in captivity. Some of the most severe fighting was around the city of Taiz, leading to the neglect of the animals at Taiz Zoo. Six Arabian leopards have succumbed to starvation, but 14 males and 12 females survived, partly by feeding on their dead peers. With a ceasefire with peace talks in place and thanks to international help from a spontaneously formed Facebook Group, the situation in Yemen as whole and in Taiz Zoo in particular has stabilised, but remains fragile. The Cat SG takes this crisis to remind the range countries of the desperate plight of the Arabian leopard, who is at the verge of extinction. Our appeal is condensed in the“Arabian Leopard Manifesto”.

Review of the Conservation Strategy for cheetah and African wild dog in southern Africa by R. Groom, S. Durant and C. Breitenmoser-Würsten

At the end of 2007, a workshop was held to develop a Regional Conservation StrategyRCS for cheetah Acinonyx jubatus and African wild dog Lycaon pictus in southernAfrica (IUCN/SSC 2007). The strategy was to form a framework for the development of conservation action plans for cheetah and wild dog in all range states. The regional workshop was conducted as a partnership between National Wildlife Authorities, the IUCN/SSC Cat and Canid Specialist Groups and the Range Wide Conservation Program for Cheetah and African Wild Dogs RWCP. Here we reporton the revision of the RCS that took place in August 2015 in South Africa.