Saturday, July 14, 2012

Chinese Mountain Cat

Felis silvestris bieti
The Chinese Mountain Cat is a very elusive feline. In fact, they are so hard to find that they were the very last cats to be discovered by science! Even then, most of what we knew was taken from skins, and it wasn't until 2007 that the first photograph was taken of one in the wild! They were once considered to be their own separate species, but genetic testing in recent years has led to reclassification.

This subspecies of Wildcat is endemic to China, where it can be found at high elevation grasslands, coniferous forests, and shrublands. They are active at night, and hunt for small animals like Birds, Pikas, and other Rodents.

It should come as no surprise that the Chinese Mountain Cat is a vulnerable subspecies with a small population size. Estimates state that only around 10,000 mature individuals remain. The intentional poisoning of Pikas has a lot to do with the Cat's decline. The Pika population goes down, lowering the Mountain Cat's food supply, and the cats themselves can become poisoned and die as well. Chinese Mountain Cats are listed in CITES II, and are protected in their native country, though the protection isn't as enforced as it is in other animals.

IUCN Status : Vulnerable
Location : China
Size : Body length up to 33in (84cm), Weight up to 9lbs (20kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Carnivora
Family : Felidae -- Genus : Felis -- Species : F. silvestris -- Subspecies : F. s. bieti

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