Two New Species of Wild Cat

Two new species of wild cat have just been classified by the Cat Classification Task Force! This brings the total number of wild cats up to forty species. The two new species are the African Wild Cat(Felis lybica) and Sunda Leopard Cat(Prionailurus javanensis).

African Wild Cat

Arkive image - African wildcat stalking prey

The African Wild Cat (Felis lybica) was previously considered a subspecies of the European Wild Cat (Felis silvestris). It’s former scientific name was Felis silvestris lybica. It is found in Africa and Asia.

There are three tentative subspecies for this new species:
Felis lybica lybica – Found in east, west, and north Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Middle East, Corsica, Sardinia and Crete.
Felis lybica cafra – Found in southern Africa
Felis lybica ornata – Found in southwest and central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Mongolia, and China.

Sunda Leopard Cat

Arkive photo - Leopard cat in mangrove habitat

The Sunda Leopard Cat (Prionailurus javanensis) was previously considered a subspecies of the newly re-named Mainland Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis). It’s former scientific name was Prionailurus bengalensis javanensis. It is found in Java, Bali, Borneo, Sumatra, Palawan, Negros, Cebu and Panay, Philippines, and possibly the Malayan Peninsula.

There are two two recognized subspecies for this new species:
Prionailurus javanensis javanensis – Found in Java and Bali
Prionailurus javanensis sumatranus – Found in Borneo, Sumatra, Palawan, Negros, Cebu and Panay, and the Philippines

It is important to recognize that these animals were not discovered in the traditional sense of finding previously unseen individuals in the field. Rather, taxonomists and geneticists determined through morphological, genetic, and biogeographical data that species previously thought to be the same, are in fact multiple species. With time, these findings may change again. Species may be lumped back into one, or split even further.

For the full list of the forty species of wild cat, including the two new additions, please see my list here.

Bibliography:

Cat News, Special Issue, Number 11, Winter 2017: A revised taxonomy of the Felidae

Big Picture Natural World Photography Competition Finalist!

Pampas Cat (Leopardus colocolo) in altiplano at night, Ciudad de Piedra, western Bolivia

Pampas Cat (Leopardus colocolo) in altiplano at night, Ciudad de Piedra, western Bolivia

I am honored to announce that my Pampas Cat picture is a finalist in the terrestrial wildlife category in the Big Picture Natural World Photography Competition, organized by the California Academy of Sciences.

Congratulations to all the winners and finalists of this years competition! I would like to especially congratulate Nayan Khanolkar for the coolest camera trap shot of a leopard I have ever seen and Pete Oxford, who is the definition of a conservation photographer, and a personal hero of mine.

You can see the overall category winners here:
http://bigpicturecompetition.org/the-2016-winning-images/

and the other terrestrial wildlife finalist images here:
http://bigpicturecompetition.org/finalists-terrestrial-wil…/

Finally, you will be able to see all the pictures in person starting July 29th, 2106. I hope you are able to!

This Pampas Cat photograph was taken as part of the Cat in Thin Air project and would not be possible without the help of the Andean Cat Alliance, Juan Carlos Huaranca Ariste, Alejandra Rocio Torrez Tarqui, and Ma Lilian Villalba. Thank you to all of you!

List of the Wild Cat Species of the World

Updated on May 9th, 2017 to reflect new taxonomic decisions made by the IUCN Cat Specialist Group’s Cat Classification Task Force.

Wild Cat Species Silhouettes

So how many different species of wild cats are there in the world? That depends on who you ask. The answer ranges from 37 to 42 species. The reason for this is that cat taxonomy is incredibly difficult and genetic analysis is still shedding light on the matter. Just in early 2017, the Sunda Leopard Cat was determined to be its own species from the Leopard Cat — now called the Mainland Leopard Cat. So, to clear things up, I put together the most accepted list of the 40 wild cat species in the world. This list will undoubtedly change in the future, especially as genetic analysis reveals that current species are actually multiple different species, but I’ll be sure to update it when that happens. The list is organized by the eight different feline lineages. Finally, the underlined common names are links to pictures I have of that species.

Common Name Latin Name Lineage
1. Lion Panthera leo
2. Leopard Panthera pardus
3. Jaguar Panthera onca
4. Tiger Panthera tigris Panthera Lineage
5. Snow Leopard Panthera uncia
6. Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosa
7. Sunda Clouded Leopard Neofelis diardi
8. Asiatic Golden Cat Catopuma temminckii
9. Borneo Bay Cat Catopuma badia Bay Cat Lineage
10. Marbled Cat Pardofelis marmorata
11. Caracal Caracal caracal
12. African Golden Cat Caracal aurata Caracal Lineage
13. Serval Leptailurus serval
14. Geoffroy’s Cat Leopardus geoffroyi
15. Guiña Leopardus guigna
16. Southern Oncilla Leopardus guttulus
17. Northern Oncilla Leopardus tigrinus Ocelot Lineage
18. Andean Cat Leopardus jacobita
19. Colocolo Leopardus colocola
20. Margay Leopardus wiedii
21. Ocelot Leopardus pardalis
22. Iberian Lynx Lynx pardinus
23. Eurasian Lynx Lynx lynx Lynx Lineage
24. Canada Lynx Lynx canadensis
25. Bobcat Lynx rufus
26. Mountain Lion Puma concolor
27. Jaguarundi Herpailurus yagouaroundi Puma Lineage
28. Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus
29. Mainland Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis
30. Sunda Leopard Cat Prionailurus javanensis
31. Fishing Cat Prionailurus viverrinus
32. Flat-headed Cat Prionailurus planiceps Leopard Cat Lineage
33. Rusty-spotted Cat Prionailurus rubiginosus
34. Pallas Cat Otocolobus manul
35. European Wild Cat Felis silvestris
36. African Wild Cat Felis lybica
37. Chinese Mountain Cat Felis bieti
38. Sand Cat Felis margarita Domestic Cat Lineage
39. Black-footed Cat Felis nigripes
40. Jungle Cat Felis chaus

The currently listed subspecies that are sometimes listed as their own species.

Common Name Latin Name Sometimes Classified As
Pampas Cat Leopardus colocolo pajeros Leopardus pajeros
Pantanal Cat Leopardus colocolo braccatus Leopardus braccatus
Iriomote Cat Prionailurus bengalensis iriomotensis Prionailurus iriomotensis

 

Wild Cat Book Review: Wild Cats of the World, by Luke Hunter 2015

Wild Cats of the World, written by Luke Hunter, published by Bloomsbury Natural History, copyright 2015

Wild Cats of the World, written by Luke Hunter, published by Bloomsbury Natural History, © 2015 – cover photograph by Kjetil Kolbjornsrud

Going along with everything wild cat related I wanted to offer up my personal reviews on books about wild cats, for two reasons. One, I own most books written on wild cats. Two, if you are interested in learning more about wild cats, it’s nice to know which books are worth buying. So without further ado, my first review: The Wild Cats of the World, by Luke Hunter, 2015.

This jumping serval is part of the opening spread in Luke Hunter's Wild Cats of the World Book

This jumping serval is part of the opening spread in Luke Hunter’s Wild Cats of the World Book – photograph © FLPA

Organization

This book serves as a guide to the entire wild cat family (Felidae), looking at each individual species known to science. At the time of publication that is 38, including the recently discovered Southern Tigrina. It first looks at the evolutionary history of this mammalian family and gives you insights into what species are most closely related and how eight different lineages (groups of closely related species) have evolved. The book then goes directly into the species descriptions which cover 87% of the book. It concludes with a chapter on the conservation of wild cats.
Book Review Star System five out of five

What Information is given about the Wild Cat Species

Chinese Mountain Cat species pages in Luke Hunter's Wild Cats of the World Book - drawings by Priscilla Barrett, photograph by Tashi Sangbo

Chinese Mountain Cat species pages in Luke Hunter’s Wild Cats of the World Book – drawings by Priscilla Barrett, photograph by Tashi Sangbo

Each of the 38 wild cat species has the following topics covered: taxonomy and phylogeny, description, distribution and habitat, feeding ecology, social and spacial behavior, reproduction and demography, and status and threats. Each of those topics goes into great detail without being overbearing. For example, it states that leopards are known to feed upon over 200 species of prey without listing you all 200 species. Yes, there are books that list all the species — to be reviewed later. I would describe the text as data driven, but readable to non-scientists.
Book Review Star System five out of five

Visual Impact

Each species is introduced by a beautiful full body drawing, along with a range map, and skull drawing. After the introductory drawing are some of the most unique photographs I have seen published of wild cats (full disclosure: I took some of the pictures in this book — but I am definitely talking about the pictures in general!). A few things that really stood out to me. Most of the images are of wild cats in the wild, which is generally not the case for many books on wild cats. Additionally, there are many images which I have never seen published before. Finally, there are an incredible amount of behavioral pictures, also a rare feat!

Additionally, the drawings by Priscilla Barrett of behaviors that have not yet been captured on film are incredibly beautiful and insightful into the lives of these secretive animals. With a total of over 400 photographs and drawings, this book is simply beautiful to look at.
Book Review Star System five out of five

Who is this book for?

The amazing quality of this book is that it is equally appropriate for children learning about the different wild cat species for the first time as well as seasoned biologists who want to know the latest information on the cat species.

Would I recommend buying this book?

This book is a must have if you are at all interested in wild cats. You can get your copy here.

Can you say gorgeous? This lion picture is part of the opening spread in Luke Hunter's Wild Cats of the World Book

Can you say gorgeous? This lion picture is part of the opening spread in Luke Hunter’s Wild Cats of the World Book © FLPA

Cat in Thin Air project launched!

CatinAirLogo

 

The Andean Mountain Cat has been in my heart for a very long time. It is a high altitude specialist and less than 2.500 remain. This is not another sad depressing environmental story however. The Andean Cat has a real chance at survival, but its up to us who care to make sure that happens. The Andean Cat Alliance has been working exclusively on this amazing species since 1999, and they have made real progress. Since however there are less than 10 high resolution pictures of this cat in existence, I want to do my part in helping the Andean Cat by getting more high resolution pictures which can then be used to introduce a ton more people to the cat.

And so, the Cat in Thin Air Project was born. The goals of the project are to first get more pictures of this very elusive cat, but then, and much more importantly help with established education programs as well as create additional avenues to show the cat to the world. Have an interest in wild cats, go check out the project page, want to help? Email me!