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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Restoring Two Rare Cats

Restoring Two Rare Cats

Bay Cat illustration, 1874 (credit: Wiki-commons)

 

The Bay Cat is a very rare feline known only from tropical forests on Borneo. The small cat is little understood, seldom seen, and declining even in pristine habitats. It is thought that less than 3000 individuals of the endemic cats exist on the Indonesian island. Illegal logging for palm oil plantations and timber exports continue to destroy its rainforest habitat. What makes a sighting especially exciting is that a camera trap observed a young cat on a stroll in a deforested space of second growth forest. The video of such a rare animal surviving in spite of declining habitat shows their utility for conservation and management. According to Imperial College of London researchers:

“Conservationists used to assume very few wild animals can live in logged-over forests, but we now know this land can be home for many endangered species. Our study shows solid evidence that even carnivores, such as these magnificent bay cats, can survive in logged forests.”

Camera traps are essential for wildlife observations. They are non-invasive, can survive long durations in harsh conditions, and allow 24/7 monitoring of an animal's movements and behavior. Along the shrubby landscapes of the US and Mexico border, these remote video cameras have been deployed to monitor the status of another endangered cat, the American ocelot. A Texas wildlife ecologist relates his own story for a Nature documentary on the existing populations and the threats to this spotted cat's survival. He hopes to develop plans to restore ocelots into other suitable habitats where they once existed along the long international border.

The next steps for both of these endangered cats will require trapping some of the animals for captive breeding efforts. Future restoration could then be attempted for reintroducing them back into safer, and hopefully, more protected habitats in Borneo and the United States. WHB

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