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Home sweet home: Asian leopard cats thrive in Mekong basin despite human pressures

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Asian leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) found around the Mekong basin. THE WONDERS OF MEKONG

Home sweet home: Asian leopard cats thrive in Mekong basin despite human pressures

The Wonders of the Mekong project has called for public support for its efforts to promote the welfare of the wild Asian leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), which is still present around the Mekong basin.

While the species is not endangered and is listed as one of Least Concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list, it is still part of the rich array of biodiversity that makes the Mekong basin unique and the welfare and health of all wild animal populations living in the region should be monitored and studied on an ongoing basis as resources allow.

In a social media post on September 1, Wonders of the Mekong said that the Asian leopard cats are about the size of a common house cat, but are equipped with longer legs to help them hunt in tall grass or brush.

The Asian leopard cats tend to try and camouflage themselves with their surrounding environment which makes their coat color and length vary depending on the precise nature of the habitat they live in.

The post noted that the Asian leopard cats are mostly nocturnal animals, meaning they are awake during the night and go hunting at that time. Like most felines, they are carnivorous, feasting on small rodents like mice and rats that are attracted in large numbers to the region's agricultural fields, but the leopard cats are also occasionally known to steal farmers’ chickens.

Asian leopard cats are considered ambush predators, often hiding out in trees and patiently awaiting their next meals. They eat small mammals, lizards, amphibians, birds and even insects.

The species has a mostly solitary lifestyle. Couples only pair up for breeding from January through March. Scientists have determined that females give birth to a litter of 2-3 kittens on average, which are born with their eyes closed, only opening them for the first time about 10 days after birth.

Researchers and historians have long-speculated that Asian leopard cats could have been one of the first cat species to ever be domesticated in China, as far back as around 5,000 years ago.

Asian leopard cats can and have interbred with domestic cat varieties producing the domestic Bengal breed of cats, the project said, citing scientific research.

“Despite being so common and widespread, Asian leopard cat populations are still threatened by the main predator affecting all animals in the region and the world – humans.

“These cats are often killed for their fur after being trapped or are sold by brokers in the pet trade… Join us in raising awareness about the Asian leopard cat and the dangers they and all wild animals face,” the Wonders of the Mekong’s post said.


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