Cat - Prionailurus bengalensisBy: C.M.Shorter
This medium size cat has a beautiful coat and markings with fur
coloring from a light almost fawn color to red, grey and brown.
Markings are black rosettes covering both sides of the body, elongated
on the sides, with four prominent facial stripes. The center two
often join into one stripe and extends down the back. It is unfortunate
that these same markings put this cat at great risk making them
one of the most sought out modern day Wild Cat for the fur trade.
The Leopard Cat
is one the most common of the smaller of
the Wild Cats
and shares territory with our Siberian
ranging through the Ussuri region of Southeastern
Siberia on throughout southeastern Asia and into India
where the mighty Bengal
roams. Known to inhabit
over 21 countries, the Leopard Cat is widely distributed
through this area extending as far as Indonesia. Preferred
territory is forests and jungles, found both in the low
country and hilly, even mountainous areas of these ranges.
They have been persecuted in untold numbers
and harvested for their fur, much like the baby Harp
Seal for their
pelts. Although current
day regulatory intervention is in place with no new export permits
allotted since 1993, it is estimated in the last decade between
80,000 to 150,000 skins alone were exported to Russia. Japan is
the major consumer of these pelts importing as many as 50,000 skins
annually. China recently asked that their quota be increased by
500% and they view these cats as a natural revenue resource. The
Leopard Cat is also consumed as a food item in these areas. Domestic
breeders looking to profit have also polluted the Leopard Cat gene
pool purchasing them from unscrupulous dealers and crossing this
species with domestic cats to establish new breeds sold at "bengal
Well one good thing - the Leopard Cat has adapted to areas with
human encroachment and disturbance of their territories. Often
found near villages they den in tree hollows, small caves, under
shelter of fallen branches on the ground and high on rock ledges
and overhangs. Mainly nocturnal they are excellent swimmers like
our Fishing Cat and Flat
Headed Cats. Both arboreal and terrestrial,
hunting in trees and on the ground respectively, prey consists
of hares, rodents, small deer, birds, reptiles, snakes and fish.
Widely held in Asian and European zoos, less than 30 Leopard
Cats are in breeding
programs worldwide. A large number of Leopard
Cats are owned by private individuals although there is no actual
captive count. Lacking field studies, present day wild population
count is unknown. We do know that population is declining placing
the Leopard Cat on CITES Appendix II, with one subspecies Prionailurus
bengalensis bengalensis already placed on CITES Appendix I.
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Scientific Name: Prionailurus bengalensis
Common Name(s): Leopard Cat
Range: Southeast Asia, India, Indonesia. Known in over 21 countries
from Manchuria to Sumatra, Java, and into the Philippines.
Average Weight: 2.5 - 7kg (5.5 - 15 lbs)
Length: 89 - 96cm (35 - 38")
Diet: Carnivorous. Hares, rodents, small deer, birds, reptiles,
snakes and fish.
Gestation Period: 66 - 70 Days
Cub Maturity: 6 - 8 Months
Cubs Per Litter: 1 - 4 Kittens
Lifespan: 10 -12 Years. Captive individuals recorded lifespan
up to 18 years.
Predators: Man. Threats: Extremely exploited for the fur trade.
Social Structure: Solitary
Territory Size: 30 - 120 (17 - 68 miles)
Conservation Status: Placed on CITES Appendix II, Prionailurus
bengalensis bengalensis placed on CITES Appendix I.