The South American Cats
Dade City’s Wild Things in conjunction with The University of Arizona Wild Cat Research & Conservation have contributed to the education of the native people to assure their knowledge of the cats importance to the ecosystem and why their protection is vital. Also in providing cameras to help monitor the movements and quantities of these cats in the wild in South America.
Javan Fishing Cat : The last Javan fishing cat to be seen was killed by a hunter in 1932. Since then it has not been recorded. The recent discovery that the Fishing cat does not exist (and has not existed) in Sumatra makes identifying areas where the Javan fishing cat might exist vital to its conservation.Chinese Mountain Cat : In 2007, Jim Sanderson and his colleagues got the first photographs of a Chinese mountain cat ever taken in the wild. One of the pictures was published in the prestigious journal Science in May 2007.
Traditional Tibetan pastoralists know the Chinese mountain cat as the Grass cat. The people kill the cats and make hats and other accessories, and sell the skins for US$8.00.
SWCCF seeks contributions to survey for high value conservation areas where the Chinese mountain cat occurs. Several protected areas exist in the region and must be surveyed for the presence of the Chinese mountain cat. Sand Cat : The Sand cat is a desert-adapted cat. Threats to Sand cats in their natural habitat have not been identified. SWCCF intends to work with a local partner to undertake the first thorough investigation of the Sand cat.The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest cat species. Their most recognizable feature is a pattern of dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with lighter underparts. They have exceptionally stout teeth, and their canines are the longest among living felids. The tiger’s patterned coloring is an adaptation for camouflage in their natural habitat, which is often tall grass. The males, especially, have a more bearded and maned appearance in which neck and cheek hair are well developed.Male and female tigers mark their ranges by spraying scent on trees or bushes. The tiger is one of only two cats that enjoys being in water (the other is South America’s jaguar). Webbing between their toes, when spread, enables the tiger to be a very fast swimmer. It will, if given the chance, run hoofed prey, who are much slower swimmers, into the water. The white spots on the back of the tiger’s ears are called “eye spots” or “predator spots.” These spots are believed to function as false eyes as well as to make it look larger to any predator approaching from behind. This is particularly helpful in keeping cubs safe. Major reasons for population decline include habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation and poaching. They are territorial and generally solitary but social animals, often requiring large contiguous areas of habitat that support their prey requirements. The tiger’s numbers will be difficult to increase unless residents can view a live tiger as more valuable than a dead one. Some are starting to realize this and are hoping to use the tiger as a draw for ecotourism.
100 years ago, there were 8 subspecies of tigers, 3 are now extinct and the remaining 5 subspecies are critically endangered:
- Bali (extinct)
- Javan (extinct)
- Caspian (extinct)
- Siberian (critically endangered)
- Bengal (critically endangered)
- Sumatran (critically endangered)
- Indo-Chinese (critically endangered)
- South China tiger (critically endangered)
Siberian: The Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), also known as the Amur tiger, is a tiger subspecies inhabiting mainly the Sikhote Alin mountain region with a small subpopulation in southwest Primorye province in the Russian Far East. In 2005, there were 331 393 adult-subadult Amur tigers in this region, with a breeding adult population of about 250 individuals.The Siberian tiger is reddish-rusty or rusty-yellow in color, with narrow black transverse stripes with a long tail. It is taller than the Bengal tiger. Bengal: The Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) is a tiger subspecies native to the Indian subcontinent that in 2010 has been classified as endangered by IUCN. The total population is estimated at fewer than 2,500 individuals with a decreasing trend, and none of the Tiger Conservation Landscapes within the Bengal tiger’s range is large enough to support an effective population size of 250 adult individuals. The Bengal tiger’s coat is yellow to light orange, with stripes ranging from dark brown to black; the belly is white, and the tail is white with black rings. The white tiger is a recessive gene of the Bengal tiger, which was reported in the wild from time to time in Assam, Bengal, Bihar and especially from the former State of Rewa. There is only one fully authenticated case of a true albino tiger, China specimens of black and blue tigers. Sumatran: The Sumatran (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is a subspecies of tiger found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Genetic testing has revealed the presence of unique genetic markers, which isolate Sumatran tigers from all mainland subspecies. About 400-500 wild Sumatran tigers were believed to exist in 1998, but their numbers have continued to decline. According to the RSPB in March 2008 there were approximately 300 Sumatran Tigers remaining in the wild. The Sumatran tiger is the smallest of the tiger subspecies as compared to the Siberian tiger which is the largest. Adult males: up to eight feet from head to tail, up to 300 pounds; adult females: up to seven feet from head to tail, around 200 pounds. The smaller size of the Sumatran tiger makes it easier to move quickly through the jungle. Also, their stripes are narrower than other tiger species.Indo-Chinese: The Indochinese tiger or Corbett’s tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) is a subspecies of tiger found in Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam and formerly in China. No Indochinese tigers have been seen in China since 2007, and it is believed that the last specimen was killed and eaten by a man now sentenced to 12 years and imprisoned for the crime. Indochinese tigers live in secluded forests in hilly to mountainous terrain, the majority of which lies along the borders between countries. Entrance to these areas is frequently restricted and as of late biologists have been granted limited permits for field surveys. For this reason, comparatively little is known about the status of these big cats in the wild. Mother tigers give birth to two or three cubs at a time. Adult males are 8-feet-5 to 9-feet-4-inches long and females are 7-feet-7 to 8-feet-4-inches long. Males weigh 330 to 430 pounds and females weigh 221 to 287 pounds. About 60 Indochinese tigers live in zoos in Asia and in the United States. Chinese: The Chinese tiger: (commonly known as South China Tiger or Panthera tigris amoyensis) is the most endangered of the five remaining subspecies of tiger and it is believed to be the origin of all the tiger subspecies. In the early 1950s, there were 4,000 tigers in China. Due to human elimination and habitat destruction, there are less than one hundred left on earth today (estimated between 10 and 30 in the wild, and about 60 in Chinese zoos)!The Chinese Tiger used to be a plain animal living all over central and south China, but has been pushed by humans out throughout the past few thousand years and slowly retreated to more remote and mountainous areas south of the Yangtze River. It is a highly adaptable tiger and managed its prosperous existence until humans took over their last bit of land-the mountains.
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