Cat News Nr 64


Appendix II: African populations of Panthera leo

A zero annual export quota is established for specimens of bones, bone pieces, bone products, claws, skeletons, skulls and teeth removed from the wild and traded for commercial purposes.

Annual export quotas for trade in bones, bone pieces, bone products, claws, skeletons, skulls and teeth for commercial purposes, derived from captive breeding operations in South Africa will be established and communicated annually to the CITES Secretariat.


The box above contains the decision that was taken by the CITES Conference of Parties 17 in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 5 October 2016, along with a long list of supplementary conservation actions. The original proposal by Niger and ten additional lion range States to up-list Panthera leo did not find strong support because neither the biological nor the trade criteria required to list the African lion under Appendix I were met. The compromise to keep Africa’s lions in Appendix II with an annotation was the result of long negotiations in a specific working group that met for four evenings during the conference. The decision does not affect trophy hunting (trophies are personal effects, not commercial items) but it bans all commercial trade in wild lion parts. This was a response to concerns about the increasing lion bone trade from Africa to East Asia. Under this annotation, it is still possible to export bones and other body parts from captive bred lions from South Africa, but at least it becomes transparent. Many stakeholders wanted to see a zero quota for all lion bone, but CITES can only impose international trade limitations to a country after demonstrating serious problems with sustainability. Many find South Africa’s hunting in confined enclosures (“canned hunting”) ethically unacceptable, but CITES only looks at biological sustainability, which is not an issue here. The problems are with laundering of wild lion bones and creating loopholes for tigers. However, the TRAFFIC/WildCRU report (Williams et al. 2016) does not offer evidence; recent reports from Mozambique (C. Everatt, pers. comm.) remind us that the threat is real but we need to expand such anecdotal evidence into a systematic analysis. We now have three years to gather evidence that the trade is detrimental to the species and then address it again at the next CoP. At the same time, canned hunting remains the focus of many animal welfare organisations, and through a decision at the IUCN Wold Conservation Congress it has also become an issue for IUCN (

The CITES CoP17 decision on the African lion also lists a number of assignments directed to the Secretariat, the Animal Committee, and the Standing Committee, and makes recommendations to the African lion range States and the Parties, which are worth mentioning because they include topics to which the IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group may be able to contribute. These include (1) to develop and implement joint lion conservation plans and strategies (considering the existing plans), (2) develop an inventory of African lion populations and the relevant databases, (3) undertake studies on legal and illegal trade in lion parts and smuggling routes, (4) undertake a comparative study of lion population trends in relation to conservation and management practices, (5) support capacity-building and performing non-detrimental findings, and (6) review the taxonomy of Panthera leo. The CITES Standing Committee shall establish a Task Force for the African lion that incorporates all African lion range States, but also important consumer countries. Finally, all African lion range States are encouraged to collaborate according to this Decision, and “all Parties, governmental, intergovernmental, non-governmental organisations, donors and other entities” are invited to join the efforts to “conserve and restore this iconic species across the continent”.

These are certainly sublime words, and no doubt the lion would be saved if these intentions would come true. But without any irony – these recommendations, and foremost the assignments directed to the Secretariat (“subject to external funding”…), offer a roadmap to implement a number of important conservation measures in collaboration with the lion range States. This is completely in line with the decisions of the Entebbe Lion Range States Meeting in May 2016 (see editorial Cat News 63, Spring 2016), and it reflects the conclusion of the evaluation of the Lion Conservation Strategies (Bauer et al. 2016). We think that the Johannesburg compromise and the resulting Decision is actually more than a stopgap. Up-listing or split-listing would have divided the range States and would have eroded willingness to collaborate. Now we have some clear assignments which outline a constructive way forward and three years – until the next CITES CoP – to prepare for next steps.

Urs Breitenmoser and Hans Bauer

Bauer H., Nowell K., Breitenmoser U., Jones M. & Sillero--Zubbiri C. 2015. Review of Lion Conservation Strategies. CMS working document, Bonn. 

Williams V. L., Newton D. J., Loveridge A. J. & Macdonald D. W. 2015. Bones of Contention: An Assessment of the South African Trade in African Lion Panthera leo Bones and Other Body Parts. TRAFFIC, Cambbridge, UK & WildCRU, Oxford, UK

First record of consumption of olive ridley sea turtle by a cougar by S. Escobar-Lasso, L. G. Fonseca, M. Gil-Fernández, W. N. Villachica, S. Arroyo-Arce, I. Thomson and J. Sáenz

Knowledge on the ecological relationship between cougars Puma concolor and sea turtles may contribute to the conservation of cougars, whose bulk of terrestrial prey continues to decline throughout their range due to poaching. This work describes for the first time the consumption of olive ridley sea turtle Lepidochelys olivacea by a cougar. This event occurred at Santa Rosa National Park, Costa Rica.

First record of a marine turtle predated by a jaguar in Pacuare Nature Reserve, Costa Rica by S. Arroyo-Arce, I. Thomson, C. Fernández and R. Salom-Pérez

Along the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, jaguar Panthera onca predation on marine turtles had only been documented in Tortuguero National Park. It was not until 2014 that this predator-prey interaction was first recorded in Pacuare Nature Reserve. Using a camera trap, we recorded an adult jaguar female predating upon a green turtle Chelonia mydas. This event highlights the growing importance of marine turtles as part of the jaguars’ diet in areas where both species coexist, especially where the main prey species have suffered a progressive depletion due to human activity.

Differential marking behaviour by sympatric felids in a Neotropical forest by B. J. Harmsen, E. Sanchez and R. J. Foster

We studied marking behaviour of sympatric jaguars Panthera onca and pumas Puma concolor using data from 15 months of continuous camera trapping across ca. 200 km² of secondary tropical moist broadleaf forest in Belize. We detected 32 marking events, all by adult males: 21 by jaguars and 11 by pumas. Marking behaviour differed between the two species. Pumas were only observed to scrape mark, while jaguars primarily rubbed and rolled against vegetation. Additional video data from a limited number of video camera traps suggested that the latter behaviour in jaguars is an intraspecific response to spray marking. For both species, only a subset of males engaged in marking at any given location; and these males visited the marked sites more frequently than non-marking males. We found no evidence of interspecific response or counter-marking between jaguars and pumas. We hypothesise that scrape marking by pumas and spraying/rolling by jaguars functions to advertise the presence of dominant males to females.

Jaguarundi in Cumbres de Monterrey NP: A high elevation record for Mexico? M. A. Salinas-Camarena, A. J. Giordano, J. O. Castillo-Hernández and R. Carrera-Treviño

The occurrence of the jaguarundi Herpailurus yagouaroundi near the northern end of its range, as well as its use of certain habitats, is little known. Here we provide what might be a high elevation record for the jaguarundi in Mexico from a protected area on the Nuevo León-Coahuila border, an area where physical confirmation of the jaguarundi was previously lacking. This record underscores the importance of reporting individual jaguarundi occurrences to improve our collective understanding of the distribution and ecology of the species in this region.

Observations of servals in the highlands of central Namibia by K. Stratford, F. Weise, J. Melzheimer and N. de Woronin-Britz

The serval Leptailurus serval is one of the more cryptic cat species to occur in sub-Saharan savannahs. While its conservation status is Least Concern in the IUCN Red List, records are sparse, especially in semi-arid anthropogenic landscapes. We report a series of 38 observations, both current (2006-2014) and historic (1911-1977), that show that servals have been present in the central highlands of Namibia for an extended period, and it is likely that a resident population persists here. We use maximum entropy modelling to define a new range extension for the serval in Namibia. However, our data indicate that the population exists at an extremely low density, making the serval in Namibia very vulnerable to changes in habitat.


Supporting Online Material

Table T1 and T2

First camera trap record of leopards in Eritrea by E. T. Abraha

Camera trap pictures and video footage of leopards Panthera pardus in Eritrea were obtained for the first time in Semenawi-Debubawi bahri protected area between December 2015 and March 2016. The records confirm the presence of the species in the area and in the country. Semenawi-Debubawi Bahri is likely to be a key area for the long-term conservation of the species in Eritrea.

On the status of the leopard in Turkey, again by K. Spassov, A. Ignatov and I. Acosta-Pankov

This review aims to present data on the existence of the last leopards Panthera pardus in Turkey. They exist in a small border region in the south-east of the country. It is possible that some individuals penetrate or survived also in the north-easternmost mountainous region of Anatolia. The species probably went extinct recently in the Taurus Mts in the south-west Turkey. The analysis shows that the data mentioned for the eastern Karadeniz Mts are not reliable. The leopard in Turkey might have disappeared before it was possible to investigate and clarify its taxonomy and ecology. Awareness activities of local volunteers should urgently receive the support of conservation organisations for saving the last leopards in Turkey.


Supporting Online Material

Table T1

Snow leopard illegal trade in Afghanistan: A rapid survey by A. Maheshwari, S. K. Niraj, S. Sathyakumar, M. Thakur and L. K. Sharma

Snow leopard Panthera uncia hunting has been legally banned in the existing Nature Protection Law and Hunting, 1986 & 2000, Wildlife Protection Law 2000, and new Environment Law of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (Snow Leopard Working Secretariat 2013). However, recent rapid surveys revealed information on snow leopard illegal trade in three major cities of Afghanistan. We conducted market surveys in Kabul, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif from 15 to 22 September 2014. There were eight snow leopard skins, which were offered for sale in Kabul and one in Mazar-e-Sharif. We collected indirect evidence for presence of more skins in stock and other snow leopard contraband goods for preparing garments made of snow leopard skin on demand. Trade in snow leopard is serious and widespread. An effective strategy for snow leopard conservation is only possible with the control of trade and poaching.

Highest elevation record of tiger presence from India by A. Bhattacharya and B. Habib

We report here a high elevation record of a female tiger Panthera tigris from the Askot landscape, Uttarakhand, India. The camera-trap picture was taken at an elevation of 3,274 m in March 2016. This is the highest elevation record for the tiger in India.

First photo capture of Asiatic golden cat in Dampa Tiger Reserve, Mozoram, India by J. Gouda, J. Sethy and N. P. S. Chauhan

The Asiatic golden cat Catopuma temminckii also known as the Temminck's cat is a medium-size elusive wild cat distributed throughout South Asia. It is classified as Near Threatened by IUCN and as Scheduled I species by Indian Wildlife Protection Act. Very modest information is available on this cat and it is rarely seen in the wild. Dampa Tiger Reserve along the international border with Bangladesh remained one of the least explored areas of north-east India. Two male Asiatic golden cats were photo-captured using passive camera trap units during November and December 2015. The photographs confirm the presence of Asiatic Golden cat in the reserve and therefore, a detailed study on the population status and ecology of the Asiatic golden cat is recommended for its long-term conservation.

Rusty-spotted cat predating on bats by R. Devkar, R. Bhatt and K. Upadhyay

A rusty-spotted cat Prionailurus rubiginosus was sighted and photographed carrying a bat in its mouth in Jambughoda Wildlife Sanctuary, Gujarat, India. Bats have never been reported as a prey of rusty-spotted cat. Our observation calls for a profound study on food preferences of rusty-spotted cat.

Occurrence of rusty-spotted cat in Balaghat forest division, Madhya Pradesh, India by J. Jena, S. Dey, J. Borah and D. Bhargava

The rusty-spotted cat Prionailurus rubiginosus is the smallest of all cat species found in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The species is reported sporadically from many parts of India. However, very little is known about their ecology. In this paper we report its presence from Balaghat forest division of Madhya Pradesh, India.

Rusty-spotted cat: 12th cat species discovered in Western Terai of Nepal by B. R. Lamichhane, R. Kadariya, N. Subedi, B. K. Dhakal, M. Dhakal, K. Thapa and K. P. Acharya

Rusty-spotted cat Prionailurus rubiginosus is the smallest wild cat, believed to be distributed only in India and Sri Lanka. Recently it was discovered from wider areas than previously thought but never recorded from Nepal. During a camera trap survey primarily targeted for tigers Panthera tigris, rusty-spotted cat was photographed multiple times on a single camera trap station in Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve in January and February 2016. The camera trap location is in dry-deciduous Sal Shoresa robusta forest in core area of the reserve at a distance of approximately 5 km from settlements. This is the first photographic evidence of rusty-spotted cat captured in camera traps in Nepal. Similarly, a photograph of a cat species taken by a park visitor in 2012 from Bardiya National Park was confirmed as rusty-spotted cat. With this record, Nepal has 12 felid species: tiger, common leopard Panthera pardus, snow leopard Panthera uncia, clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa, Eurasian Lynx Lynx lynx, Asiatic golden cat Catopuma temminckii, fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus, jungle cat Felis chaus, leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis, marbled cat Pardofelis marmorata, Pallas's cat Otocolobus manul and rusty-spotted cat.


Supporting Online Material

Figure F1 and Table T1

Stability of tigers in Chitwan National Park, Nepal by C. McDougal, B. Gurung, D. B. Tamang, B. Mahato, R. Kumal, P. M. Shrestha

Tiger Panthera tigris monitoring using radio-telemetry, pugmark tracking and camera trapping was conducted for four decades in an area of approximately 100 km² in the western part of Chitwan National Park, Nepal. The aim was to record the life history longevity and reproductive status of the resident breeding tigers. From 1985 to 2015, the data shows a density of six breeding females / 100 km² and considerable disparity in reproductive success for male and female tigers. Seven long-lived females (12-17 years) produced a mean of 5.14 litters, yielding an average litter size of 2.89. Nearly 60 percent of the cubs survived up to the age of dispersal. Such high reproductive success and constant number of breeding females are the contributing factors in the stability of the Chitwan tiger population.


Supporting Online Material 

Table T1a,b

Camera trap records of Asiatic golden cat at high altitudes in Bhutan by T. Dhendup, T. Tempa and N. Norbu

Recent camera trap evidence from a biodiversity survey in eastern Bhutan recorded an Asiatic golden cat Catopuma temminckii at 4,282 m making it the highest altitudinal record for the species to date. There have been several previous records of the species at high altitudes in Bhutan and India. This suggests that the highlands may be an important habitat for the species, and may also act as movement corridors. Hence, it is important that these habitats are considered in the course of conservation initiatives and decisions for the species.