Asian golden cat

The Asian golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) is a medium-sized wild cat native to the northeastern Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It has been listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List since 2008, and is threatened by hunting pressure and habitat loss, since Southeast Asian forests are undergoing the world's fastest regional deforestation.[1]

The Asian golden cat's scientific name honours the Dutch zoologist Coenraad Jacob Temminck. It is also called Temminck's cat and Asiatic golden cat.[2]

Asian golden cat
Asian Golden cat
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Felinae
Genus: Catopuma
Species:
C. temminckii
Binomial name
Catopuma temminckii
(Vigors & Horsfield, 1827)
AsianGoldenCat distribution
Distribution of the Asian golden cat
Synonyms

Pardofelis temminckii

Characteristics

Fishing&goldencatskulls
Illustration of skulls of Asian golden cat (bottom) and fishing cat (top), in Pocock's The Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma[3]

The Asian golden cat is heavily built, with a typical cat-like appearance. It has a head-body length of 66 to 105 cm (26 to 41 in), with a tail 40 to 57 cm (16 to 22 in) long, and is 56 cm (22 in) tall at the shoulder. The weight ranges from 9 to 16 kg (20 to 35 lb), which is about two or three times that of a domestic cat.[2]

The pelage is uniform in color, but highly variable, ranging from red to golden-brown, dark brown to pale cinnamon, and gray to black. Transitional forms among the different colorations also exist. It may be marked with spots and stripes. White and black lines run across the cheeks and up to the top of the head, while the ears are black with a central gray area.[2] Golden cats with leopard-like spots have been found in China, resembling large leopard cats. This spotted fur is a recessive characteristic.[4]

Distribution and habitat

The Asian golden cat ranges from eastern Nepal, northeastern India and Bhutan to Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, southern China, Malaysia and Sumatra. It prefers forest habitats interspersed with rocky areas and inhabits dry deciduous, subtropical evergreen and tropical rainforests.[5]

Since an individual was caught alive in 1831 in Nepal, the country is thought to be the westernmost part of the cat's range.[6][7] However, no specimen has been recorded in the country, until in May 2009 a camera trap survey yielded the first photographic record of a melanistic Asian golden cat in Makalu Barun National Park at an altitude of 2,517 m (8,258 ft).[8]

In the eastern Himalayas, Asian golden cats were recorded in temperate and subalpine forest in Sikkim's Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve up to 3,960 m (12,990 ft) altitude.[9]

In February 2018, golden and spotted Asiatic golden cats were recorded in Buxa Tiger Reserve for the first time.[10] It also lives in more open terrain such as the grasslands of Assam's Manas National Park.[11] It has also been recorded in the Khasi hills of Meghalaya, in Dampa Tiger Reserve, in Arunachal Pradesh's Talley Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Pakke Tiger Reserve, Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary and Singchung-Bugun Village Community Reserve.[12][13][14]

In Bhutan's Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, it was recorded by camera traps at an altitude of 3,738 m (12,264 ft).[15]

In northern Myanmar, it was recorded in Hkakaborazi National Park.[16] In 2015, it was recorded for the first time in the hill forests of Karen State.[17]

In Laos, it also inhabits bamboo regrowth, scrub and degraded forest from the Mekong plains to at least 1,100 m (3,600 ft).[18][19] Between 2004 and 2009, it was recorded in Chinese protected areas in the Qinling and Minshan Mountains.[20]

Results of surveys in Sumatra indicated that it is more common than sympatric small cats, suggesting that it is more numerous than previously believed.[21]

Behaviour and ecology

Catopuma temminckii 2
A gray morph of the Asian golden cat, Arunachal Pradesh, India
Asiatische-Goldkatze-Catopuma-temminckii-tier-katze-0001 2
Asian golden cat with a piece of meat

Asian golden cats are territorial and solitary. Previous observations suggested that they are primarily nocturnal, but a field study on two radio-collared specimens revealed arrhythmic activity patterns dominated by crepuscular and diurnal activity peaks, with much less activity late at night. In the study, the male's territory was 47.7 km2 (18.4 sq mi) in size and increased by more than 15% during the rainy season. The female's territory was 32.6 km2 (12.6 sq mi) in size. Both cats traveled between only 55 m (180 ft) to more than 9 km (5.6 mi) in a day, and were more active in July than in March.[22] Asian golden cats recorded in northeast India were active during the day with activity peaks around noon.[14]

Asian golden cats can climb trees when necessary. They hunt birds, hares, rodents, reptiles, and small ungulates such as muntjacs and young sambar deer.[5] They are capable of bringing down prey much larger than themselves, such as domestic water buffalo calves.[23] In the mountains of Sikkim Asian golden cats reportedly prey on ghoral.[24]

Captive Asian golden cats kill small prey with the nape bite typical of cats. They also pluck birds larger than pigeons before beginning to feed. Their vocalizations include hissing, spitting, meowing, purring, growling, and gurgling. Other methods of communication observed in captive Asian golden cats include scent marking, urine spraying, raking trees and logs with claws, and rubbing of the head against various objects – much like a domestic cat.[2]

Reproduction

Not much is known about the reproductive behavior of this rather elusive cat in the wild. Most of what is known has been learned from cats in captivity.[25] Female Asian golden cats are sexually mature between 18 and 24 months, while males mature at 24 months. Females come into estrus every 39 days, at which time they leave markings and seek contact with the male by adopting receptive postures.[26] During intercourse, the male will seize the skin of the neck of the female with his teeth. After a gestation period of 78 to 80 days, the female gives birth in a sheltered place to a litter of one to three kittens. The kittens weigh 220 to 250 g (7.8 to 8.8 oz) at birth, but triple in size over the first eight weeks of life. They are born already possessing the adult coat pattern and open their eyes after six to twelve days.[2] In captivity, they live for up to twenty years.[27]

A female Asian golden cat at the Washington Park Zoo (now the Oregon Zoo) showed a dramatic increase in the frequency of scent marking during estrus. At the same time, she often rubbed her neck and head on inanimate objects. She also repeatedly approached the male in the cage, rubbed on him, and adopted a receptive posture (lordosis) in front of him. The male's rate of scent marking increased during this time, as did his frequency of approaching and following the female. The male's mounting behavior included a nape bite, but in contrast to other small felids, the bite was not sustained.

A pair in the Washington Park Zoo produced 10 litters, each consisting of one kitten; two litters of a single kitten each were born at the Wassenaar Zoo in the Netherlands; and a single kitten was reported for another litter. Two litters of two kittens each were born at a private cat breeding facility in California, but neither litter survived.

Threats

Asian golden cats inhabit some of the fastest developing countries in the world, where they are increasingly threatened by habitat destruction following deforestation, along with a declining ungulate prey base.[1] Another serious threat is hunting for the illegal wildlife trade, which has the greatest potential to do maximum harm in minimal time.[5] It has been reported killed in revenge for depredating livestock, including poultry but also larger animals such as sheep, goats and buffalo calves.

Illegal wildlife trade

Asian golden cats are poached mainly for their fur.[28] In Myanmar, 111 body parts from at least 110 individuals were observed in four markets surveyed between 1991 and 2006. Numbers were significantly greater than those of non-threatened species. Among the observed skins was a specimen with ocelot-like rosettes — a rare tristis form. Three of the surveyed markets are situated on international borders with China and Thailand and cater to international buyers, although the Asian golden cat is completely protected under Myanmar's national legislation. Effective implementation and enforcement of CITES is considered inadequate.[29]

Conservation

Pardofelis temminckii is included in CITES Appendix I and fully protected over most of its range. Hunting is prohibited in Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam. Hunting is regulated in Laos. No information about protection status is available from Cambodia.[5] In Bhutan, the felid is protected only within the boundaries of protected areas.[15]

The population size of the Asian golden cat is unknown and difficult to estimate. It was regarded as abundant in many countries until the later part of the last century, when poaching shifted away from tigers and leopards to this species. In China, it is reported to be the next rarest cat apart from tigers and leopards.

In captivity

As of December 2008, there were 20 Asian golden cats in eight European zoos participating in the European Endangered Species Programme. The pair in the German Wuppertal Zoo successfully bred in 2007, and in July 2008, two siblings were born and mother-reared. In 2008, a female kitten was also born in the French Parc des Félins. The species is also kept in the Singapore Zoo.[30] Apart from these, a few zoos in Southeast Asia and Australia also keep Asian golden cats.

Taxonomy

Felis temmincki was the scientific name used in 1827 by Nicholas Aylward Vigors and Thomas Horsfield who described a reddish brown cat skin from Sumatra.[31] Felis moormensis proposed by Brian Houghton Hodgson in 1831 was a young male cat caught alive by Moormi hunters in Nepal.[6]

Two subspecies are recognised as valid since 2017:[32]

Phylogeny

Results of phylogeographic analysis indicates that the Asian golden cat, along with the bay cat and the marbled cat, diverged from the other felids about 9.4 million years ago, and that the Asian golden cat and bay cat diverged four million years ago. Because of the evident close relationship with the marbled cat, it has been suggested that all three species should be grouped in the genus Pardofelis.[33]

Mythology

In some regions of Thailand, the Asian golden cat is called Seua fai (Thai: เสือไฟ; "fire tiger"). According to a regional legend, the burning of an Asian golden cat's fur drives tigers away. Eating the flesh is believed to have the same effect. The Karen people believe that simply carrying a single hair of the cat is sufficient.[34] Many indigenous people believe the cat to be fierce, but in captivity it has been known to be docile and tranquil. In the south, it's called Kang kude (คางคูด). It's believed to be a fierce animal. It can hurt or eat the livestock of the villagers and can also hurt larger animals such as elephants.[35]

In China, the Asian golden cat is thought to be a kind of leopard and is known as "rock cat" or "yellow leopard". Different color phases have different names; those with black fur are called "inky leopards", and those with spotted coats are called "sesame leopards".[2]

References

  1. ^ a b c McCarthy, J.; Dahal, S.; Dhendup, T.; Gray, T.N.E.; Mukherjee, S.; Rahman, H.; Riordan, P.; Boontua, N. & Wilcox, D. (2015). "Catopuma temminckii". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2015: e.T4038A97165437. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T4038A50651004.en. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
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External links

African golden cat

The African golden cat (Caracal aurata) is a wild cat endemic to the rainforests of West and Central Africa. It is threatened due to deforestation and bushmeat hunting and listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.It is a close relative of both the caracal and the serval. Previously, it was placed in the genus Profelis.Its body size ranges from 61 to 101 cm (24 to 40 in) with a 16 to 46 cm (6.3 to 18.1 in) long tail.

Asiatic linsang

The Asiatic linsang (Prionodon) is a genus comprising two species native to Southeast Asia: the banded linsang (Prionodon linsang) and the spotted linsang (Prionodon pardicolor). Prionodon is considered a sister taxon of the Felidae.

Batang Gadis National Park

Batang Gadis is a national park covering 1,080 km2 in North Sumatra province, Indonesia extending between 300 and 2,145 metres altitude. It is named after the Batang Gadis river that flows thorough the park. Signs of the endangered Sumatran tiger and the threatened Asian golden cat, leopard cat and clouded leopard were seen in the park. The protection of Batang Gadis as a national park is part of a plan to create the Northern Sumatra biodiversity conservation corridor, which would be connected, via a series of protected areas and forests, to Gunung Leuser National Park in the north of the island.

Bay cat

The bay cat (Catopuma badia), also known as Borneo bay cat and Bornean bay cat, is a wild cat endemic to the island of Borneo that appears to be relatively rare compared to sympatric wild cats, based on the paucity of historical, as well as recent records. Since 2002, it has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List because it is estimated that fewer than 2,500 mature individuals exist, and that the population declined in the past.

The bay cat has been recorded as rare and seems to occur at relatively low density, even in pristine habitat.

Catopuma

Catopuma is a genus containing two Asian small wild cat species, the bay cat (C. badia) and the Asian golden cat (C. temminckii).

Both are typically reddish brown in colour, with darker markings on the head. They inhabit forested environments in Southeast Asia. The bay cat is restricted to the island of Borneo. Originally thought to be two subspecies of the same animal, recent genetic analysis has confirmed they are, indeed, separate species.The two species diverged from one another 4.9-5.3 million years ago, long before Borneo separated from the neighboring islands. Their closest living relative is the marbled cat, from which the common ancestor of the genus Catopuma diverged around 9.4 million years ago.

Felidae

Felidae is a family of mammals in the order Carnivora, colloquially referred to as cats. A member of this family is also called a felid. The term "cat" refers both to felids in general and specifically to the domestic cat (Felis catus).Reginald Innes Pocock divided the extant Felidae into three subfamilies: the Pantherinae, the Felinae and the Acinonychinae, differing from each other by the ossification of the hyoid apparatus and by the cutaneous sheaths which protect their claws.

This concept has been revised following developments in molecular biology and techniques for analysis of morphological data. Today, the living Felidae are divided in two subfamilies, with the Pantherinae including seven Panthera and two Neofelis species. The Felinae include all the non-pantherine cats with 10 genera and 34 species.The first cats emerged during the Oligocene, about 25 million years ago, with the appearance of Proailurus and Pseudaelurus. The latter species complex was ancestral to two main lines of felids: the cats in the extant subfamilies and a third major group of extinct cats of the subfamily Machairodontinae. The machairodonts included the saber-toothed cats such as the Smilodon. The "false sabre toothed cats", the Barbourofelidae and Nimravidae, are not true cats, but are closely related and together with Felidae and other cat-like carnivores (hyaenas, viverrids and mongooses) make up the feliform carnivores.The characteristic features of cats have evolved to support a carnivorous lifestyle, with adaptations for ambush or stalking and short pursuit hunting. They have slender muscular bodies, strong flexible forelimbs and retractable claws for holding prey, dental and cranial adaptations for a strong bite, and often have characteristic striped or spotted coat patterns for camouflage.

Felinae

The Felinae is a subfamily of the family Felidae that comprises the small cats that have a bony hyoid, because of which they are able to purr but not roar.Other authors proposed an alternative definition for this subfamily: as comprising only the living conical-toothed cat genera with two tribes, the Felini and Pantherini; thus excluding all fossil cat species.

Golden cat

Golden cat may refer to:

African golden cat, Caracal aurata, a wild cat distributed in the rain forests of West and Central Africa

Asian golden cat, Catopuma temminckii, a medium-sized wild cat of South-Eastern Asia

Bay cat, Catopuma badia, a wild cat endemic to the island of Borneo

List of species native to Thailand

The wildlife of Thailand includes its flora and fauna and their natural habitats.

Lutrogale

Lutrogale is a genus of otters, with only one extant species—the smooth-coated otter.

Marbled cat

The marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata) is a small wild cat of South and Southeast Asia, where it is suspected to occur over a large range. It is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.The marbled cat was once considered to belong to the pantherine lineage of cats. Genetic analysis has shown it to be closely related to the Asian golden cat and the bay cat, all of which diverged from other felids about 9.4 million years ago.

Melanism

The term melanism refers to black pigment and is derived from the Greek: μελανός. Melanism is a development of the dark-colored pigment melanin in the skin or its appendages.

Pseudo-melanism, also called abundism, is another variant of pigmentation, characterized by dark spots or enlarged stripes, which cover a large part of the body of the animal, making it appear melanistic.

A deficiency in or total absence of melanin pigments is called amelanism.

The morbid deposition of black matter, often of a malignant character causing pigmented tumors, is called melanosis. For a description of melanin-related disorders, see melanin and ocular melanosis.

Mustelinae

Mustelinae is a subfamily of family Mustelidae, which includes weasels, ferrets amd minks.It was formerly defined in a paraphyletic manner to also include wolverines, martens, and many other mustelids, to the exclusion of the otters (Lutrinae).

Nam Et-Phou Louey

Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area (NPA) is a protected area in northern Laos, covering 5,959 km2 in three provinces: Houaphan, Luang Prabang, and Xieng Khouang. The park includes a 3,000 km2 core area where human access and wildlife harvest is prohibited and a 2,950 km2 buffer area where pre-existing villages are allocated land for subsistence living.The park consists mainly of mountains and hills, with elevations ranging between 336 and 2257 metres. The area is the source of many rivers. It is named after the Nam Et River and Phou Louey Mountain ('Forever Mountain'). The area has a high level of biodiversity and endangered species including tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, Asian golden cat, marbled cat, civet, gaur, Sambar deer, white-cheeked gibbon, sun bear, black bear, Asian elephant, dhole, hornbill and three species of otter.Villagers living in the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Park include Tai Dam, Tai Daeng, Tai Kao, Tai Puan, Tai Lue, Tai Yuan, Khmu, Hmong Kao, Hmong Lai, and Yao.

Viengthong, a small town in Houaphan Province, is the site of the Nam Et-Phou Louey NPA headquarters and visitor centre, where tours into the park can be organised. The town has basic accommodation and a handful of restaurants. There are many biking and walking trails, as well as hot springs.

Nyctereutes

Nyctereutes is an Old World genus of the family Canidae, consisting of just one living species, the raccoon dog of East Asia. Nyctereutes appeared about 9.0 million years ago (Mya), with all but one species becoming extinct before the Pleistocene.

Native to East Asia, the raccoon dog has been intensively bred for fur in Europe and especially in Russia during the twentieth century. Specimens have escaped or have been introduced to increase production and formed populations in Eastern Europe. It is currently expanding rapidly in the rest of Europe, where its presence is undesirable because it is considered to be a harmful and invasive species.

Paradoxurus

Paradoxurus is a genus within the viverrid family that was denominated and first described by Frédéric Cuvier in 1822. As of 2005, this genus was defined as comprising three species native to Southeast Asia:

the Asian palm civet (P. hermaphroditus)

the golden palm civet (P. zeylonensis)

the brown palm civet (P. jerdoni)In 2009, it was proposed to also include the golden wet-zone palm civet (P. aureus), the Sri Lankan brown palm civet (P. montanus) and the golden dry-zone palm civet (P. stenocephalus), which are endemic to Sri Lanka.

Pardofelis

Pardofelis is a genus of the cat family Felidae. This genus is defined as including one species native to Southeast Asia: the marbled cat. Two other species, formerly classified to this genus, now belong to the genus Catopuma.

The word pardofelis is composed of the Latin words pardus pard, and felis cat in allusion to the spots of the type species, the marbled cat.

Sungai Kial Forest Reserve

The Sungai Kial Forest Reserve is a protected area of tropical rainforest habitat in Peninsular Malaysia near the town of Tanah Rata in the state of Pahang. The reserve is 100–250 km2 (39–97 sq mi) (uncertain boundaries), but is connected to, and part of, a large forest complex in the Cameron Highlands Forest Complex (> 4,000 km2 (1,500 sq mi)). Here the altitude ranges from 1,000–2,000 m (3,300–6,600 ft), making the likely forest type tropical hill or montane forest, and most likely possessing a high representation of tree species in the dipterocarp family.A camera trapping survey was carried out here in 1999, led by Wan Shaharuddin of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (as part of the Tiger Research Unit) and discovered a range of species including the marbled cat, leopard cat, asian golden cat, muntjac, malay civet, masked palm civet, common porcupine, brush-tailed porcupine, pangolin, sun bear, wild boar, banded linsang, short-tailed macaque (probably meaning the pig-tailed macaque) and wild dog (probably dhole). Despite being connected to the larger Cameron Highlands forest complex there were no tigers detected, which could be due to the relatively low sampling effort (just 575 camera trap nights).

Wildlife of Bangladesh

The wildlife of Bangladesh includes Bangladesh's flora and fauna.

Bangladesh is home to roughly 53 species of amphibian, 19 species of marine reptiles, 139 species of reptile, 380 species of birds, 116 species of mammals and 5 species of marine mammals. In addition to the large bird count, a further 310 species of migratory birds swell bird numbers each year. It has the Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, hoolock gibbon, Asian black bear and other flagship species. The vast majority of these creatures currently dwell in an area of land that is some 150,000 sq kilometers in size. However this does not mean all is well with the country’s natural heritage. So far a number of creatures have disappeared completely from the country and a further 201 species are threatened. The dhole, also called the Asiatic wild dog, is now endangered by habitat and prey-species loss and human persecution. Notable animal species that have disappeared from Bangladesh are the greater one-horned rhinoceros, the Asian two-horned rhinoceros, the gaur, the banteng, swamp deer, nilgai, Indian wolf, wild water buffalo, marsh crocodile and common peafowl.

The majority of the human population lives in or around large cities and this has helped to limit deforestation to some extent. However, the growth rate continues to increase and this has placed large demands on the environment and lead to subsequent clearing of numerous natural habitats. Though several areas are protected under law, a large portion of Bangladeshi wildlife is threatened by this growth.

In 2016, conservationists surveying the super-remote, little-known Chittagong Hill Tracts region of Bangladesh took the country’s first ever photos of the sun bear and gaur. Moreover, the team also captured photos of the Himalayan serow, Asian golden cat, sambar deer, barking deer, leopard cat and Dhole. Locals in the Chittagong Hill Tracts led conservationists to a new population of Arakan forest turtle. Once thought extinct, the critically endangered species was assumed only to survive in neighbouring Myanmar.

Extant Carnivora species

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