Cat - Mayailurus iriomotensisBy: C.M.Shorter
Extremely rare, the Iriomote Cat has a
lifespan in the wild of 15 years. Their coat is dark brown marked
with spots that blend
into longitudinal striped bands extending down their backs. Relatively
the size of a domestic cat, they have long bodies, with short legs
and tail. White markings pattern their underside with rounded ears
each sporting one white spot on the back being "False
provides as a protective survival feature for many of our Feline
species even the Tigers, one of the greatest predators of our planet.
The Iriomote Cat has eyes that are striking of amber or a yellowish-golden
color. Hunting activity is primarily done in the dusk and dawn
hours making them crepuscular and they are terrestrial, but agile
and excellent climbers with some hunting done in the treetop canopy.
The Iriomote Cat, only recently discovered has one of
the most restricted distribution of all Wild Cats in the
world with population count believed less than 100 in the
world. Classification is still being debated to this day,
with some scientists considering them to be a sub-species
of the Leopard Cat. The Iriomote Cat was discovered only
as recently at 1965. These cats take their name from their
homeland and are found only on the Island of Iriomote,
a small island East of Taiwan.
Habitat is restricted obviously and Iriomote Cats are
found only in the lowland subtropical rainforest. This
cat is also one of the small "Wild Cats" with
average weight of 6-10 lbs. Typical of many of the small
cats in our TigerHomes Educational Series - Wild Cats of
the World, they are always found near forest waterways
taking prey of small rodents, bats including fruit
and birds such as night heron, quail, pigeons and doves,
fish, frogs, reptiles, insects and crabs. Iriomote Cats
are solitary by nature and nocturnal hunters, partially
arboreal and known to be very good swimmers throughout
the dense mangrove and estuaries of their island rainforest.
They even frequent the sandy beaches in search of tasty
aquatic dinner fare, where they have been seen catching
mudskippers and crabs on the shore.
The Iriomote Cat is a good example of an animal which may survive
through Ecotourism with this cat promoted very successfully as
a main source of appeal by the Iriomote Island tourism industry.
Threatened throughout their range and restricted to a single population,
they have been fully protected since 1967 and placed on CITES Appendix
II. Japan's Environmental Agency and the Iriomote Wildlife Center
have joined forces declaring part of their habitat a wildlife protection
area. University students using radio telemetry to track the cats,
they have established feeding and monitoring programs, and there
is a public awareness campaign including numerous signs asking
motorists to drive carefully throughout their island habitat.
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Scientific Name: Mayailurus iriomotensis
Common Name(s): Iriomote Cat
Range: Island of Iriomote Shima, Japan
Average Weight: 3 - 4.5 kg (6.5 - 10 lbs)
Length: 70 - 90 cm (28 - 35")
Diet: Carnivorous. Small rodents, bats including fruit bats,
and birds such as night heron, quail, pigeons and doves, fish,
frogs, reptiles, insects and crabs.
Gestation Period: 63-65 Days
Cub Maturity: 6 - 8 Months
Cubs Per Litter: 1 - 4 Kittens.
Lifespan: 10 - 12 years.
Predators: Threat of vehicular death (10 annually average lost)
Social Structure: Solitary.
Territory Size: 5 - 9.5 km (3 - 5.5 miles)
Conservation Status: Placed on CITES Appendix II since 1967