Do you know that wild cat species experience long list of challenges? One of the challenges is being extinct. It happens due to several reasons, such as degraded and destroyed habitat, hunting and poaching. Many species of feline around the world are facing extinction and it is possible that they are going extinct soon.
Let’s see the six most endangered feline species we need to protect starting from now on!
- Fishing Cat
According to IUCN, the fishing cat is a feline species that is listed as vulnerable. It has scattered populations across Southeast Asia. In some areas, such as Java, Laos and Vietnam, scientists even believe that they are extinct already. However, scientists find themselves difficult to estimate the population of the fishing cat.
There are two factors causing the fishing cat population to decline: habitat loss and conflicts with humans.
These cats mostly inhabit the area along rivers and in mangrove swamps in Asia, primarily in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Amazingly, they are skillful in swimming and dependant on wetlands for their food.
- Iberian Lynx
The species of Iberian lynx in Spain kept declining due to two factors: habitat loss and two diseases. Fifty years ago, the species numbered about 4,000 animals, however, today its wild population is only around 100 and 200 cats. Iberian lynx is also one of the animals which you can find in Siberian Taiga.
This feline species is native to the Iberian Peninsula. Iberian lynx is an expert in rabbit hunting. However, with a diet of 90% rabbit, disease outbreaks killing rabbits have also affected the population of this feline species.
Though it’s illegal to hunt Iberian lynx and its habitat is protected, it is still victim to cars along roads, feral dogs and also poaching by humans.
Luckily, there’s an effort done to increase the population of this feline species. A few dozen additional lynx reside in a captive breeding program. The embryos and egg cells from two females are used in future breeding efforts. There’s a hope that this effort will be successful in increasing the population of Iberian lynxes, at least in captivity.
- South China Tigers
It is hard to estimate how many South China tigers are left in the world. In 1950s, it was estimated that there were 4,000 of them, but they didn’t last long after China declared the cats as “enemy of the people” in 1959. Today, this feline species is considered “critically endangered” and even possibly extinct in the world.
The only South China tigers we can be sure to live is in captivity. There’re some breeding efforts done for over the past 40 years and it brought the species’ population up to 100.
A few of them live in South Africa at a reserve set up by the organization called “Save China’s Tigers”. Although the effort has successfully bred more than a dozen of new tigers there, but it also faces a problem. One of the tigers broke through an electrified gate and killed the others.
Also get to know more about the dangerous animals of China.
- Andean Cats
Andean cat lives high above the tree line of the Andes Mountains of Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Argentina. Andean cats only lives within regions that have a water source. However, this Andean cat is the world’s rarest and the least-known of all cats.
The reasons of this cat being endangered are unsure. There are not any known cases of captive Andean cats, though there are some conservation organizations to protect them and their habitat. No official population count can be confirmed yet.
- Snow Leopard
You might know snow leopard as it is the most well-known cat. Although snow leopards reside in the mountain ranges of Central Asia, they are really popular. Snow leopards live typically at altitudes of 3,350 to 6,700 meters above sea level.
In 2003, it was reported that compiled national snow leopard population was estimated at the numbers of 4,080 to 6,590. However, the reproductive population was suspected to be less than 2,500 individuals. The major threat of this species is habitat loss.
- Asiatic Lion
Lions are commonly known to be African species, but there’s also Asiatic lions. Asiatic lions hails from the western Indian state of Gujarat. Asiatic lion is a single and isolated subspecies listed as endangered by the IUCN.
It is because of the very small population size, which is about 411 individuals in 2010. This lion species resides only in the Gir National Park and Sanctuary, which is entirely off-limits to humans.
As a result, Asiatic lions are vulnerable to extinction due to wildfire, flooding, disease outbreak or other massive unpredictable event. Have you ever wondered how tigers and lions are different? Look closer to the differences between a lion and a tiger.