Welcome to our gallery post about Endangered and Vulnerable Cat Species.
Endangered and Vulnerable Cat Species
Given that Endangered Species Day is around the corner, this guide takes a look at some of the endangered and vulnerable cat species in the world today. The world’s wild cats are fiercely beautiful, suave and ferocious at the same time. Their hunting game is an exhibition of power, skill and speed, making them a joy to watch. Having existed throughout history, the existence of some of these cats is under serious threat due to the activities of man, climate change and other trials.
As such, the numbers of these rare cats is in decline, meaning that we have to do more to prevent them from becoming extinct for the sake of the future generations. From the mighty tiger to the tenacious black-footed cat, here is a list of some of the endangered and vulnerable cat species.
1. Snow Leopard – Endangered Status
For thousands of years, the iconic snow leopard was the king of the mountains. Food was in plenty in the form of blue sheep, Argali wild sheep, hares and marmots. Living in the highlands of Central Asia, it has wide paws, much like snowshoes, which make it possible for them to walk across snow. Their numbers have been declining due to poaching, conflict with the locals and insufficient prey. Less than 7,000 of them remain today.
2. Fishing Cat – Endangered Status
Unlike most cats, the Fishing cat is an excellent swimmer. It is roughly twice the size of the normal house cat, weighing 5-15kg. With a powerful build and stocky legs, it is an adept swimmer, going into the water frequently in search of fish. Mostly found in Asia, particularly in India and Nepal, they are facing extinction due to the destruction of wetlands.
3. Iberian Lynx – Endangered Status
The world’s most endangered feline species; there are real fears that it may become the first wildcat to disappear from the face of the earth in 2000 years. There are less than 1,000 of them remaining, living in southwest Spain on the Iberian Peninsula. The decline of breeding females and the spread of exotic diseases threaten their survival. They feed on rabbits, hares, ducks and fish.
Source : Fauna & Flora International
4. Flat-Headed Cat – Endangered Status
The Flat-headed cat is the most unusual of the feline species, with its long, narrow head and a streamlined forehead. They are highly obscure and mysterious, making them the least known of all the cats that walk on the earth today. With webbed feet and a body adapted for speed in water, the flat-headed cat practically lives in water. Native to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, only about 2,000 of are alive today, mainly due to the destruction of their habitats.
5. Bornean Bay Cat – Endangered Status
The bay cat is mostly found in Borneo. The fur has a bright chestnut color, the tail is elongated and the ears more rounded. This bay cat is so rare it was once thought to be extinct. As of 2007, less than 3,000 of them were counted. Their elusive nature makes it very hard to study them – it took more than 100 years to study a live one in detail.
6. Tiger – Endangered Status
The largest of all the Asian big cats, it mostly relies on smell and sound to hunt for prey. All species of tigers are endangered and vulnerable, and two are already extinct. They are mostly solitary, hunting alone rather than in packs. The biggest males can weigh up to 400kg or more. Poaching and habitat loss are the greatest threats to their survival.
7. Andean Mountain Cat – Endangered Status
The Andean cat is considered to be one of the rarest and least known felids in the world. It lives in the Andes Mountains where the climate is harsh and food is scarce. It is a small, sturdy cat and is very difficult to sight – only 10 of them have been seen in the last 25 years. Most of the people who work to conserve it have actually never seen it.
8. Clouded Leopard – Endangered Status
Found in Southeast Asia, they are the best tree climbers among the Felidae family. Their exact numbers are not known, but they are in sharp decline due to illegal hunting and destruction of their habitats. The clouded leopard’s beautiful coat is in high demand across Asia. It is a medium-sized cat weighing between 11-20kg. Its short legs and wide paws make it perfectly adapted for tree life.
9. Asiatic Lion – Endangered Status
The Asiatic lion is very similar to the African lion, though it is somewhat smaller. The adults can weigh between 160-190kg. It is found only in India’s Gujarat Province, but it once ruled the Middle East region as well as India itself. In 2000, this lion was placed at the top of the world’s most endangered big cat species, but aggressive conservation and protection has led their numbers to rise to almost 1,000 today.
10. Marbled Cats – Vulnerable Status
It appears most of the small cats are not very well known, and the Marbled Cat is no exception. Found throughout Southeast Asia, they are very secretive, so they are seldom seen in the wild. It is similar in size to the domestic cat, and the coat looks very similar to that of the clouded leopard. It has a very long bushy tail which can exceed the body length. Their numbers are believed to be less than 10,000 today.
11. Black-Footed Cat – Vulnerable Status
The smallest African felid, it is found in only Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. It has large, grayish-brown eyes, a short tail and a soft, dense coat which varies from dark to tawny gold. Its habitat is medium-length grass fields and the sand plains of the Kalahari and Karoo Deserts. Overgrazing is the main threat these cats face because it reduces their prey base.