Three Rare Cat Species in Southeast Asia May Go Extinct Unless Better Protected
Only six to 11 percent of the habitat used by the fishing cat, leopard cat and rusty-spotted cat is currently protected, based on findings published in the journal Scientific Reports by researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden.
All three species are endemic to the Indian subcontinent, comprising India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan and the Maldives. Over a third of the world's wild felines call the region home, and the three species studied share a common cat ancestor. There are no current population figures on the rare cats as they are extremely difficult to find, even with state-of-the-art camera traps.
But the fishing cat, about twice the size of an average house cat, may no longer have a home, as its preferred habitat — mangrove swamps and coastal wetlands — are increasingly eradicated for development. Since 2016 the species has been listed as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List.
"This study is important because it shows that many small, rare and elusive cats in the Indian subcontinent don't get as much attention as the more spectacular big cats. Nevertheless, the need to protect them is just as pressing," said Mats Björklund, a professor emeritus of Zooecology at Uppsala University, in a statement about the findings.
The leopard cat is also a victim of habitat destruction, but its environment ranges from shrub land and low-lying forests to inland wetlands, and populations are steadier than those of the fishing cat. Part of the study identified which ecological conditions each species preferred, using computer algorithms to predict their numbers and locations in favored areas.
The rusty-spotted cat is one of the smallest wild cat species in the world and mostly spends its time in the deciduous forests of India and Sri Lanka. It is listed as "Near Threatened" on the IUCN Red List, due to increased farmland use of its home.
"Species like the rusty-spotted cat exist only in this region, so to ensure we don't lose them it's essential to create more protected areas," said André P. Silva, the study's lead author and a doctoral student in the department of ecology and genetics at Uppsala University.
The goal of the study was to better understand environmental factors such as land cover, land use and climate, which threaten the three cat species. Thanks to this research, more protective measures can be implemented.
"The number and size of the protected areas must be increased to include more biotopes containing these species," says Björklund.
- Extremely Rare Leopard Cubs Born in Connecticut Zoo - EcoWatch ›
- Small Wild Cats Face Big Threats Including Lack of Conservation ... ›
- 5 Species Bouncing Back From the Brink of Extinction - EcoWatch ›
- Most Meat Will Be Plant-Based or Lab-Grown in 20 Years, Analysts ... ›
- Lab-Grown Meat Debate Overlooks Cows' Range of Use Worldwide ... ›
- Will Plant-Based Meat Become the New Fast Food? - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
One city in New Zealand knows what its priorities are.
Dunedin, the second largest city on New Zealand's South Island, has closed a popular road to protect a mother sea lion and her pup, The Guardian reported.
piyaset / iStock / Getty Images Plus
- No Country Is Protecting Children's Health, Major Study Finds ... ›
- 'Every Child Born Today Will Be Profoundly Affected by Climate ... ›
By Jeff Masters, Ph.D.
Earth had its second-warmest year on record in 2020, just 0.02 degrees Celsius (0.04°F) behind the record set in 2016, and 0.98 degrees Celsius (1.76°F) above the 20th-century average, NOAA reported January 14.
Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for 2020, the second-warmest year the globe has seen since record-keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA. Record-high annual temperatures over land and ocean surfaces were measured across parts of Europe, Asia, southern North America, South America, and across parts of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. No land or ocean areas were record cold for the year. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information
Figure 2. Total ocean heat content (OHC) in the top 2000 meters from 1958-2020. Cheng et al., Upper Ocean Temperatures Hit Record High in 2020, Advances in Atmospheric Sciences
Figure 3. Departure of sea surface temperature from average in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W). Sea surface temperature were approximately one degree Celsius below average over the past month, characteristic of moderate La Niña conditions. Tropical Tidbits
- NASA and NOAA: Last Decade Was the Hottest on Record - EcoWatch ›
- Earth Just Had Its Hottest September Ever Recorded, NOAA Says ... ›
In December of 1924, the heads of all the major lightbulb manufacturers across the world met in Geneva to concoct a sinister plan. Their talks outlined limits on how long all of their lightbulbs would last. The idea is that if their bulbs failed quickly customers would have to buy more of their product. In this video, we're going to unpack this idea of purposefully creating inferior products to drive sales, a symptom of late-stage capitalism that has since been coined planned obsolescence. And as we'll see, this obsolescence can have drastic consequences on our wallets, waste streams, and even our climate.
- Consumer Society No Longer Serves Our Needs - EcoWatch ›
- Electronic Waste: New EU Rules Target Throwaway Culture ... ›