Cat News Nr 57


The next Red List assessment of the cats

This is the last issue of Cat News in the 2008–2012 IUCN Quadrennium. The World Conservation Congress in September 2012 in Jeju, Korea, marked also the beginning of the 2013–2016 period. All membership in the SSC expired, and the specialist groups now need to be re-constituted. Christine Breitenmoser-Würsten and Urs Breitenmoser have been reappointed as Co-chairs and Kristin Nowell as Red List Authority Coordinator of the Cat Specialist Group by Simon Stuart who has been re-elected as Chairman of the Species Survival Commission SSC.

“Red List Authority Coordinator” is a new name IUCN uses for what was formerly called “Red List Focal Point” or “Red List Authority”. For us, this will be old wine in new skins, but we will nevertheless give more emphasis to the Red List work in the years to come. One of the SSC programme points for the new Quadrennium is a re-assessment of all mammals by 2015. For the cats, we will do this new assessment based on the new felid taxonomy that the Cat Classification Task Force under the lead of Andrew Kitchener is presently generating. This updated classification will be ready by next year and will serve as checklist for the re-assessment of cat species and subspecies. The Red List Authority Coordinator and the Co-chairs will draft an agenda for the RL assessment of the cats, and we will use Cat News and our website as fora for progress reports and discussions. The updated assessments must then feed into the strategic planning of the Cat SG.

IUCN SSC maintains a Species Conservation Planning Sub-Committee, chaired by Mark Stanley Price, with the purpose to “disseminate the philosophy, methodologies and processes for effective species planning deriving from Strategic Planning for Species Conservation principally across the SSC’s 120 Specialist Groups”. Many cat conservation activists and probably also a few who read this editorial believe that classification, Red List assessment and strategic conservation planning have little to do with in situ conservation and are a waste of time and resources: “We know what to do, so let’s go out and do it!” This is a widespread opinion, also among those who are asked to financially support such “boring” works like assessments or strategic planning. It goes without saying that we need on-the-ground conservation actions to save the cats, but to assure their efficiency and effectiveness, we need planning and control, and as long as funding is limited, we need a certain prioritisation, hence assessments. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is IUCN’s most important tool for species conservation. It does not only provide an objective and widely accepted procedure for assessing a species’ conservation status and therefore a starting point for conservation planning and action, it also facilitates negotiation and cooperation with conservation partners, especially with governmental institutions. The Red List is a well reputed reference for preparing appendices to international treaties, national laws or^bylaws, national red lists and similar conservation acts. But the Red List is not only an inventory. Through its standardised assessment it is foremost a process. We use the (regional) assessment procedure often as a starting point for working with national governmental institutions. This helps finding common ground and defining a baseline to develop a conservation action plan and to monitor the success of subsequent conservation efforts.

The Red List must reflect the best available knowledge, but it is only as good as the data used for the assessment. Assessing cat species or subspecies is constant a struggle for more reliable, more accurate and more recent information. All species and subspecies listed in any of the threatened categories (VU, EN and CR) are assessed according to their absolute population size or population trends (Criteria A, C or D; see Nowell 2009, Cat News 51: 32-33). However, only exceptionally this information comes from a scientific robust monitoring. Generally, we rely on fragmental, anecdotal or indirect information, sometimes extrapolated by means of statistical models, most often compiled as expert opinion. Without any doubt, we will still have to rely on generic data and perception for a long time, but we should make sure that we compile this information in a consistent way and that we get the input of “all” experts. This will be a central contribution of each Cat SG member in the next Quadrennium. We envision having a broad participation in the Red List Assessment for the cats, foremost from all Cat SG members, but we will also find ways to better cooperate and coordinate with partner institutions.

Urs Breitenmoser, Christine Breitenmoser-Würsten and Kristin Nowell

Kaaiyana, a jaguar with cubs in the Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National Park, Bolivia by R. L. Cuéllar, D. Alarcón, F. Peña, A. Romero-Muñoz, L. Maffei, D. Rumiz and A. Noss

Park guards and visitors have recently (September-December 2011) observed and photographed a very tame and calm female jaguar and her two cubs at the Estación Isoso camp in the Kaa-Iya del Gran Chaco National Park. The photographs have allowed researchers to confirm that she is the same female recorded in systematic camera-trap surveys at the same site in 2005 and 2006. During the second survey she was observed and photographed with a large cub, confirming that she has been reproductively active over a five-year period, and has evidently occupied roughly the same range. In 2006 she was also photographed in the company of a male, the only camera-trap record for Kaa-Iya of a male-female pair. The two camera-trap surveys contrast the site fidelity of this female with the apparently much higher turnover of males; only one of four males was present in both surveys that took place less than one year apart.

Survival of a wild puma missing a foot by M. Huck and E. Fernandez-Duque

Wild animals suffer from a variety of natural or human induced injuries, but often little is known how this affects the survival of individuals. Here we report on a wild female puma Puma concolor missing her left hind-foot who survived at least 2.5 months. During a pilot camera-trapping study starting October 2010 we installed ten camera traps in the study area. In June 2011 we obtained a photo from a puma missing her left hind foot. A photo and 15-sec video from the same female was taken 10 weeks later. The video shows the female to use the stump for walking. The apparently good condition of the puma indicates that she was still capable of hunting, although it is possible that she complemented her diet by scavenging on cow carcasses. This suggests that under certain circumstances, especially in case of rare species with low genetic variability, re-introductions also of severed animals should be considered, and that case-to-case decisions have to be made.

Jaguar poisoning in southern Brazilian Amazonia by F. Belem Lopes Palmeira and C. Trapé Trinca

We have recorded jaguar Panthera onca poisoning in retaliation for livestock depredation on ranches in Southern Brazilian Amazonia. This manuscript presents anecdotal information about jaguar poisoning obtained during a systematic survey of livestock depredation by large cats. Ranchers have applied various types of poisons to livestock carcasses in an effort to kill jaguars. In addition, non-target species have been affected, including wild and domestic animals.

Geoffroy’s cat in Salta Province, a potentially interesting area for subspecies by G. A. E. Cuyckens, P. G. Perovic and J. Rojo

The biggest part of Geoffroy’s cat’s Oncifelis geoffroyi distribution is located in Argentina. In the nortwesthern part, three subspecies exist on a broad scale. Nevertheless, due to few records, their limits and possible superposition are not clear on a finer scale. On top of that, taxonomic confusion exists to assign subspecies. In this study we realized a small camera trap survey as part of a broader project. Surprisingly we obtained two records of Geoffroy’s cat with a coat pattern different from the pattern known from earlier records, assigned to the subspecies O. geoffroyi salinarum. Because it is not possible to assign our photos to subspecies, we conclude that taxonomic, genetic and more morphologic studies are needed to confirm subspecies present in this interesting area and to update species and subspecies distribution maps.

Melanistic pampas cat in the central Peruvian Andes by A. J. Giordano, E. de la Cadena and P. Hocking

The pampas cat Oncifelis colocolo is one of the most enigmatic of the neotropical felids. Little is known of its ecology and its distribution and taxonomy are still a matter of debate. Here we provide an account of a melanistic pampas cat in the vicinity of Yanachaga-Chemillien National Park in the Andes of Central Peru. This report is the first official confirmed record of the pampas cat from the Peruvian province of Oxapampa, which now contains a minimum of seven felid species.

Observation on a capive African golden cat by L. Bahaa-el-din

The only known African golden cat Profelis aurata in captivity lives in a small private sanctuary in Libreville, Gabon. Observations of this individual may provide insight on the behaviour of this species which is very rarely and fleetingly observed in the wild.

Supporting Online Material


Systematic survey efforts of the African golden cat – Part 2. Results from Uganda by D. Mills, S. Isoke, A. Plumptre, R. Slotow and L. Hunter

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.

Arabian leopard in lowland region on the south face of Jebel Samhan, Oman by H. Al Hikmani and K. Al Hikmani

Unlike the African leopard Panthera pardus which largely lives on lowland and savannah areas in Africa, the Arabian leopard Panthera pardus nimr occurs mostly in high mountain regions in the Arabian Peninsula. It may have once lived in lowland areas in the region, but development and persecution by local people have probably pushed it up to highland areas more recently. However, on 19 August 2011 an Arabian leopard was sighted at an altitude of 203 m in the foothills of Jebel Samhan. This sighting adds knowledge to the current distribution information of this species in Jebel Samhan.

Supporting Online Material


Regional collaboration on Arabian leopard conservation by H. Al Hikmani

With a fewer than 200 individuals left in the wild, the critically endangered Arabian leopard Panthera pardus nimr needs urgent and sound conservation actions to prevent it from slipping to extinction. Collaboration between range countries has been highlighted in the regional conservation strategy plan as an essential step that must be taken if the leopard is to survive in the wild. Here I report of regional collaboration efforts between Oman, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Record of rusty-spotted cat from Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh, India by A. Vasava, C M Bipin, R. Solanki and A. Singh

The rusty-spotted cat Prionailurus rubiginosus is the smallest felid and is restricted in its distribution to India and Sri Lanka. Although reported to occur throughout India, information about its populations, occurrence and ecology is largely lacking. Consequently, the present distribution range of the species is to a large extent speculative and often inferred from the opportunistic sightings of this species. In this paper, we present a photographic record of this species from a human dominated area in the vicinity of Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary, India.

Clouded leopard in Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park, Nepal by B. P. Pandey

A presence/absence survey was carried out by Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park staff using camera traps, supplemented by interviews and sign surveys during April-June 2010. Four images of a clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa (sex unknown) were captured in a single event in the transition zone of the subtropical and lower temperate vegetation zone of Schima and Castanopsis forest at 1,985 m. The study was carried out to verify the status of the poorly known clouded leopard. This is the first authentic record of the species in a decade and thus presents an important opportunity to follow up with an in-depth ecological study of the species in the area.

Supporting Online Material

Table 1

First ever record of a snow leopard in KugtiWildlife Sanctuary, Himachal Pradesh by N. Mahar, M. S. Idrisi and Rahul Kaul

The snow leopard Panthera uncia is one of the most elusive high altitude species on earth. Despite global conservation efforts, its numbers are declining. In India, states encompassing the Himalayan region constitute the range and habitat of the snow leopard. Extensive surveys and community-based conservation efforts in and around its known range are essential in the long term. Here we present a sighting and first photographic evidence of a snow leopard in Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary KWS of Himachal Pradesh.

Sighting of a snow leopard in Sumdoh Valley, Ladakh by K. Angmo, B. S. Adhikari and G. S. Rawat

The snow leopard Panthera uncia is the top carnivore of the high-altitude cold arid regions of south and central Asia. It is a Schedule I species under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 (WPA). Being elusive in nature and having a very sparse distribution this species is very difficult to spot in its natural habitat. The snow leopard is habitat-specific by nature (occurs mostly above 3,000 m asl.) but may descend to lower elevations during winter for livestock depredation. In a scenario where a decrease in natural habitat is threatening the survival of many species, information on species presence becomes most important for conservation purposes. The present note reports an observation of a snow leopard in Sumdoh Valley in the Indian cold desert of Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir.

First photographic capture of melanistic leopard cat in the Sundarbans by S. Kumar Das, P. Kumar Sarkar, R. Saha, P. Vyas, A. A. Danda and J. Vattakavan

As a part of tiger estimation in the Sundarbans, WWF-India in collaboration with Sundarban Biosphere Reserve Directorate carried out camera trapping at 24 Parganas (South) Forest division of the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve from January to March, 2012. Four species of felids were photocaptured, Bengal tiger Panthera tigris, fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus, jungle cat Felis chaus and leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis. Apart from this, two melanistic leopard cats were also photo captured. This is the first photographic evidence of a melanistic leopard cat and of its presence in the Sundarbans. The habitat is chiefly mangrove forest subjected to tides twice a day.

Asiatic golden cat record from the Kulen-Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, Cambodia by S. Edwards and M. Demski

A total of six consecutive camera-trap images of Asiatic golden cats Catopuma temmincki, three of which showed two individuals, were captured on 9 February 2011 at 10:17 h, with two seconds between consecutive photos, in a dry river bed located at 14° 4' 7.037" N, 104° 11' 41.608" E at 103 m above sea level. The images were obtained during a camera-trapping survey carried out by Frontier Cambodia from January to November 2011 in the Kulen-Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, northern Cambodia.

Supporting Online Material


First hard evidence of leopard in Nakhchivan by B. Avgan, A. Ismayilov, P. Fatullayev, T. T. Huseynali, E. Askerov and U. Breitenmoser

We have carried out a baseline survey in Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, Azerbaijan, in order to reveal the status of the Persian leopard Panthera pardus saxicolor, assess human attitudes towards the species and increase local capacity in wildlife monitoring techniques. On 9 September 2012, one of our camera-traps took a photo of a leopard at Zangezur National Park, approximately 1.5 km from the Iranian border.

Population development of the Iberian lynx since 2002 by G. López, M. López, L. Fernández, G. Ruiz, R. Arenas, T. del Rey, J. M. Gil, G. Garrote, M. García and M. Simón

The Iberian lynx Lynx pardinus population suffered a dramatic decline during the 20th Century, and in 2002, it was considered the most endangered cat in the world. At that time, its population size was found to be fewer than 100 individuals. Since 2002, three consecutive LIFE-Nature projects have been dedicated to the conservation of this Iberian endemism, including actions increasing carrying capacity and decreasing threats. As a result, the Iberian lynx population has grown, and it was found to be 326 individuals in 2011. Moreover, two reintroduction programs are ongoing and effects of inbreeding are being mitigated through translocations.

VII International workshop for Andean cat conservation by M. L. Villalba and R. Palacios

Between 19 and 22 April 2012, the Andean Cat Alliance (AGA) held its biennial international meeting in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. AGA has recently elaborated its Strategic Plan for Andean Cat Conservation, and in this VII international encounter the team worked together to elaborate a funding strategy. The aim of the funding plan is to develop a tool for achieving funds, both to implement the Strategic Plan as well as to maintain the operational costs of AGA.