Today, May 17th, is Endangered Species Day. We are celebrating it by bringing attention to the diverse and beautiful felid species around the world that are in danger of becoming extinct. The following species are either currently listed as endangered or vulnerable. We hope that by learning about these amazing relatives of our well-loved domestic cats, readers will be encouraged to act to protect these species.
First up is the well-known snow leopard. This iconic cat lives in the unbelievably cold habitats of alpine and subalpine areas Central Asia and is rarely ever seen in the wild based in part because of its elusive nature and in part because there are so few left in the world. The estimated population of this endangered species is somewhere between 4,000 and 6,5000 individuals.
But there are many lesser-known feline species, some that you may never have even heard of before.
The fishing cat is a species that proves not all cats hate water, but in fact some love the water. These cats live along rivers and in mangrove swamps in Asia, primarily in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. They are skilled swimmers, and are dependent on wetlands for their food. However, human exploitation of fish stocks as well as development of their habitat has had negative effects on the species and they are listed as endangered.
Conservation photographer Morgan Heim has been working on a project titled Cat In Water, which documents the lives of this amazing species, as well as the threats it faces for survival.
The Iberian Lynx is critically endangered, and is the world’s most threatened species of cat with only about 309 living in the wild as of 2013. That is actually up from the roughly 100 individuals estimated to be alive in 2005. Native to the Iberian Peninsula, the Iberian lynx is an expert rabbit hunter — unfortunately it has specialized on only rabbits and the loss of prey due to disease outbreaks as well as habitat has all but wiped it out. Though it is now illegal to hunt them and their habitat is protected, the lynx still falls victim to cars along roads, feral dogs and poaching by humans.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Photo Credit: Programa de Conservación Ex-situ del Lince Ibérico
Photo Credit: Tambako the Jaguar
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