TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Miaoli County on Friday released four endangered leopard cats (石虎) into the wild after they had been caught by poultry farmers.
Fewer than 1,000 of the small feline are believed to be still living in Taiwan, often in isolated mountain areas from Miaoli down to Central Taiwan’s Nantou County.
While the “Prionailurus bengalensis chinensis” mostly feeds on mice and rats, two farmers in Miaoli had separately caught four of the animals during their intrusion into the chicken coops and delivered them to the county’s wildlife protection center.
Experts had inspected the leopard cats’ health, implanted chips, and released them back into their natural habitat Friday, the Central News Agency reported.
The animals’ sudden appearance at the poultry farms was linked to their search for a place to give birth to kittens, the experts said.
The authorities in Miaoli encouraged farmers to use more fences and night lights to scare away the leopard cats, rather than trying to poison or shoot them, CNA reported.
Earlier this year, infrared cameras discovered that leopard cats lived as far south as Chiayi County, a region where they hadn’t been seen for 24 years.