Miaoli first municipality in Taiwan to pass law protecting leopard cats

Miaoli has introduced several measures aimed at conservation of the endangered species

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Leopard cat. (Endemic Species Research Institute photo)

Leopard cat. (Endemic Species Research Institute photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Miaoli County passed legislation protecting leopard cats on Tuesday (Dec. 10), becoming the first municipality in Taiwan to enact a law dedicated to the conservation of a single species.

The northern county of Miaoli is one of the places in the island nation with a large leopard cat population, but human activities have had a detrimental impact on the wild feline’s habitat. Frequent roadkill incidents make protecting the endangered species an even more pressing issue.

The new legislation, which takes effect in 2020, stipulates that any public construction project involving at least 1 hectare of land or road with a length of at least 1 kilometer will not receive a greenlight before being cleared by environmental experts, reported the Taiwan Environmental Information Center.

The bill also prohibits the use of chemical fertilizers and provides incentives for individuals and organizations to support the initiative. Those eligible for a reward include law enforcement officers who come to the rescue of leopard cats as well as communities that organize volunteer leopard cat patrol teams or install shelters to help reduce competition between the cats and stray animals, the report said.

To reduce the number of leopard cats killed by traffic, the Miaoli government has joined the Forestry Bureau this year in building culverts under highways to allow them safer passage. The measure has proven effective, with the endangered felines caught on camera passing through a culvert 39 times.