Rare leopard cat killed on a road in Miaoli.

Leopard cat's habitat is bisected by roads, so many are killed

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The leopard cat, killed by a vehicle. Image courtesy MiaoLi Nature.

The leopard cat, killed by a vehicle. Image courtesy MiaoLi Nature.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) Another endangered leopard cat has been run over and killed on a road in Miaoli.

There are estimated to be fewer than 500 leopard cats altogether in just 3 locations in Taiwan: Nantou, Taichung and Miaoli.

They were listed in 2009 as endangered species in the Taiwanese Wildlife Conservation Act by Council of Agriculture. The Chair of Miaoli County’s MiaoLi Nature Association (苗栗縣自然生態學會) Lin Chin-kun (林錦坤) yesterday found a dead leopard cat at Miaoli City’s Houlong Township (後龍鎮) at the junction of Taiwan Provincial Highway 6. It had been hit by a vehicle.

Lin said the place where the leopard cat was found was an area known to be populated by the rare felines, Houlong Township’s Shihbankeng ( 十班坑 ). As it’s habitat had been intersected by roads, the leopard cats are forced to cross roads to find food and are frequently hit and killed by vehicles.

Lin said that at around 6 am he was on his way to Tungxiao's Shihutian (通霄鎮石虎田) He himself was in a car and clearly saw the body of the leopard cat lying in the middle of the road. He stopped to examine the rare creature and found that its head had been run over by a vehicle.

Lin took a photo and moved the body to the side of the road. He then got in touch with Dr. Chen Mei-ting (陳美汀)Taiwan’s leading expert on leopard cats and asked her to contact Miaoli County Government’s Bureau of Agriculture. Lin said that looking at the degree of wear and tear on the teeth, this was a young leopard cat.

When Taiwan News approached MiaoLi Nature for permission to use Lin's photo the organisation made the following reasoned plea: “Rather than emphasize this as a tragedy, I would like to convey the concern is that we should pay attention to human interaction with low mountain habitats. We need to be more wildlife-friendly in all our construction and engineering projects. The power of the public itself can support change in the public sector practice towards a more wildlife-friendly attitude."

As well as the habitat loss cited by Lin, there are various other factors which contribute to the rapid near extinction of this species. In a paper by the Institute of Bio-resources, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, submitted to the Mammal Society of Japan in 2016, (here) the authors mention various threats to leopard cats including illegal poisoning and trapping that was often overlooked but has a profound effect on the survival of the Taiwanese leopard cat population. In fact five of the leopard cats in the study which were tracked with GPS collars were found dead in traps, baited and poisoned by local farmers and hunters.