Warning issued over leopard cats’ difficult future

Taipei,  A government agency warned on Monday that the leopard cat could become extinct in the coming decades in Taiwan if nothing is done to help them survive in a worsening environment.

Only about 468 to 669 leopard cats exist in Taiwan at present, and the only remaining wild cat species endemic to Taiwan will almost certainly disappear in the coming 100 years(94.7 percent chance) if no efforts are made to save them, the Forestry Bureau said in a statement.

The bureau issued the call Monday because Oct. 5 has been designated as “Leopard Cat Day,” which marks the start of “Leopard Cat Week” in Taiwan.

Leopard cats are classified as a Level 1 endangered species in Taiwan and are active in hilly areas at elevations of 1,000 meters in Taichung and Nantou and Miaoli counties, but they are often killed by vehicles because their natural habitats are surrounded by roads.

Twelve leopard cats have been killed by vehicles this year, even as a roadkill alert system was being established by the Directorate General of Highways, National Chung Hsing University and the Endemic Species Research Institute to warn drivers of nearby leopard cats.

The species’ looming extinction could also be triggered by the loss of its habitat, pesticides, rodenticides, hunting, attacks by stray cats and dogs, and contagious diseases, the bureau said.

To address the issue, the bureau launched a trial project last year in which incentives were provided to chicken farmers to increase patrols near their farms and encourage them to handle intrusions by leopard cats.

The aim of the project is to have locals become a part of the conservation efforts, the bureau said.

The bureau also has teamed up with the Endemic Species Research Institute and retailer Carrefour to promote leopard cat-friendly products and encourage farmers to work their land in an eco-friendly way to allow the animal to live safely in its natural habitat.


Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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