Bay cat

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Bay cat
Bay cat 1 Jim Sanderson-cropped.jpg
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Felinae
Genus: Catopuma
Species:
C. badia
Binomial name
Catopuma badia
(Gray, 1874) [1]
BayCat distribution.jpg
Distribution of Bay Cat, 2016 [1]
Synonyms

Pardofelis badia

The bay cat (Catopuma badia), also known as Borneo bay cat and Bornean bay cat, is a wild cat endemic to the island of Borneo that appears to be relatively rare compared to sympatric wild cats, based on the paucity of historical, as well as recent records. Since 2002, it has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List because it is estimated that fewer than 2,500 mature individuals exist, and that the population declined in the past. [1] The bay cat has been recorded as rare and seems to occur at relatively low density, even in pristine habitat. [2]

Contents

Taxonomy and evolution

Felis badia was the scientific name proposed by John Edward Gray in 1874, who first described a bay cat skin and skull collected by Alfred Russel Wallace in 1856 in Sarawak. This cat was first thought to be a kitten of an Asian golden cat. [3] In 1932, Reginald Innes Pocock placed the species in the monotypic genus Badiofelis. [4] In 1978, it was placed in the genus Catopuma. [5]

Tissue and blood samples were acquired only in late 1992 from the female brought to the Sarawak Museum. [6] Morphological and genetic analysis confirmed the close relationship with the Asian golden cat, and that the two species had been separated from a common ancestor for 4.9 to 5.3 million years, long before the geological separation of Borneo from mainland Asia. [7]

The bay cat's classification as Catopuma was widely recognized until 2006. [8] Because of the evident close relationship of the bay cat and the Asian golden cat with the marbled cat, all three species were suggested in 2006 to be grouped in the genus Pardofelis . [9]

Characteristics

Illustration of a bay cat Chat Bai 1874.jpg
Illustration of a bay cat

The bay cat is much smaller than the Asian golden cat. Its fur is of a bright chestnut colour, rather paler beneath, the limbs and the tail being rather paler and redder. The tail is elongated, tapering at the end, with a white central streak occupying the rear half of the lower side, gradually becoming wider and of a purer white towards the tip, which has a small black spot at its upper end. The ears are rounded, covered with a short blackish-brown fur at the outer side, paler brown within and with a narrow brown margin. [3]

In the years between 1874 and 2004, only 12 specimens were measured. Their head-to-body length varied from 49.5–67 cm (19.5–26.4 in) with 30.0- to 40.3-cm-long tails. [10] They were estimated to have an adult weight of 3–4 kg (6.6–8.8 lb), but too few living specimens have been obtained to allow a more reliable estimate. [6]

The short, rounded head is dark greyish-brown with two dark stripes originating from the corner of each eye, and the back of the head has a dark ‘M’-shaped marking. The backs of the ears are dark greyish, lacking the central white spots found on many other cat species. The underside of the chin is white and two faint brown stripes are on the cheeks. Body proportions and the extremely long tail give it the look of the New World jaguarundi. [11]

Distribution and habitat

In the 19th century, only seven bay cat skins surfaced, but a living individual was caught only in 1992. It was trapped on the Sarawak – Indonesian border and brought to the Sarawak Museum on the verge of death. [6]

In the mid 1990s, the most reliable sightings have been reported in Gunung Palung National Park and the upper Kapuas River in West Kalimantan. Two concentrations were reported in the island's interior at the time, in habitat types varying from swamp forests, lowland dipterocarp forest to hill forests up to at least 500 m (1,600 ft). [12] One unconfirmed sighting occurred at 1,800 m (5,900 ft) on Mount Kinabalu. [13] It inhabits dense tropical forests, and has been observed in rocky limestone outcrops and in logged forest, and close to the coast. At least three specimens were found near rivers, but this was probably due to collector convenience rather than evidence of habitat preference. In 2002, a bay cat was photographed in Sarawak's Gunung Mulu National Park. [14] From 2003 to 2005, 15 bay cats were recorded in Kalimantan, Sabah, and Sarawak, but none in Brunei. These records consist of single opportunistic observations. Almost all the historical and recent records are from close proximity to water bodies such as rivers and mangroves, suggesting the bay cat may be closely associated with such habitats. [10]

A camera trapping survey from July 2008 to January 2009 in the northwestern part of Sabah's Deramakot Forest Reserve in an area of about 112 km2 (43 sq mi) yielded one photo of a male bay cat in a total sampling effort of 1916 trap nights. This record expands the range of bay cats to the north. [15]

In Central Kalimantan, a single bay cat was recorded in a mosaic of heath and peat swamp forest in the Rungan River catchment area during surveys carried out between 2016 and 2018. [16]

Ecology and behavior

The secretive and nocturnal behavior of the bay cat, and possibly the low population density, may be an important cause of the rarity of sightings. [12] Camera trapping surveys during 2003–2006 yielded only one photo of a bay cat in 5,034 trap nights. According to unconfirmed anecdotal records from Sarawak, a bay cat was observed on a branch 1 m (3.3 ft) from the ground close to the river during a night hunting expedition. A local animal collector near Lachau, Sarawak, claimed he accidentally trapped two bay cats on separate occasions in December 2003. He reported the bay cats entered his aviary and attacked his pheasants. One cat died in captivity, and the other was released. [10]

Nothing is known about its feeding ecology and reproductive behavior. [11] [15] [17]

Threats

Satellite photo of Borneo showing smoke from burning peat swamp forests Borneo fires and smoke, 2002.jpg
Satellite photo of Borneo showing smoke from burning peat swamp forests

The bay cat is forest-dependent and increasingly threatened by habitat destruction following deforestation in Borneo. Habitat loss due to commercial logging and conversion to oil palm plantations pose the greatest threat to the bay cat. Oil palm plantations are likely to expand in the future as a result of the push for biofuels. [1] Borneo has one of the world's highest deforestation rates. While in the mid-1980s, forests still covered nearly three-quarters of the island, by 2005 only 52% of Borneo was still forested. Both forests and land make way for human settlement. [18]

Illegal trade in wildlife also poses a significant threat. Wildlife traders are aware of the species' rarity, and bay cats have been captured illegally from the wild for the skin and pet markets. [1]

Although Borneo supposedly has 25 wildlife reserves, only three are actually in existence, with the others only proposed. All of these reserves have been encroached upon by human settlement and logging.[ citation needed ]

Conservation

The bay cat is listed on CITES Appendix II. It is fully protected by national legislation across most of its range. Hunting and trade are prohibited in Kalimantan, Sabah, and Sarawak. The bay cat remains one of the least studied of the world's wild cats, hampering the development of conservation actions. [1]

Related Research Articles

Asian golden cat Small wild cat

The Asian golden cat is a medium-sized wild cat native to the northeastern Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and southern China. It has been listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List since 2008, and is threatened by hunting pressure and habitat loss, since Southeast Asian forests are undergoing the world's fastest regional deforestation.

<i>Catopuma</i> genus of mammals

Catopuma is a genus containing two Asian small wild cat species, the Asian golden cat and the bay cat . Both are typically reddish brown in colour, with darker markings on the head.

Flat-headed cat Small wild cat

The flat-headed cat is a small wild cat native to the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Borneo, and Sumatra. It is an Endangered species, because the wild population probably comprises fewer than 2,500 mature individuals, with small subpopulations of no more than 250 adults. The population inhabits foremost wetlands, which are being destroyed and converted. For these reasons, it is listed on the IUCN Red List since 2008.

Marbled cat Small wild cat

The marbled cat is a small wild cat native from the eastern Himalayas to Southeast Asia, where it inhabits forests up to 2,500 m (8,200 ft) altitude. As it is present in a large range, it has been listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List since 2015.

<i>Pardofelis</i> genus of mammals

Pardofelis is a genus of the cat family Felidae. This genus is defined as including one species native to Southeast Asia: the marbled cat. Two other species, formerly classified to this genus, now belong to the genus Catopuma.

Otter civet species of mammal

The otter civet is a semiaquatic viverrid native to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. It is listed as Endangered because of a serious ongoing population decline, estimated to be more than 50% over the past three generations, inferred from direct habitat destruction, and indirect inferred declines due to pollutants.

Bornean ferret-badger species of mammal

The Bornean ferret-badger, also known as Everett's ferret-badger or the Kinabalu ferret-badger, is a member of the family Mustelidae. The scientific name commemorates British colonial administrator and zoological collector Alfred Hart Everett.

Hoses palm civet species of mammal

Hose's palm civet, also known as Hose's civet, is a viverrid species endemic to the island of Borneo. It is listed on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable because of an ongoing population decline, estimated to be more than 30% over the last three generations and suspected to be more than 30% in the next three generations due to declines in population inferred from habitat destruction and degradation.

Borneo elephant subspecies of mammal

The Borneo elephant, also called the Borneo pygmy elephant, is a subspecies of Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) that inhabits northeastern Borneo, in Indonesia and Malaysia. Its origin remains the subject of debate. A definitive subspecific classification as Elephas maximus borneensis awaits a detailed range-wide morphometric and genetic study. Since 1986, the Asian elephant has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List as the population has declined by at least 50% over the last three generations, estimated to be 60–75 years. It is pre-eminently threatened by loss, degradation and fragmentation of habitat.

Bornean orangutan great ape

The Bornean orangutan is a species of orangutan native to the island of Borneo. Together with the Sumatran orangutan and Tapanuli orangutan, it belongs to the only genus of great apes native to Asia. Like the other great apes, orangutans are highly intelligent, displaying tool use and distinct cultural patterns in the wild. Orangutans share approximately 97% of their DNA with humans.

Sunda clouded leopard species of medium-sized wild cat

The Sunda clouded leopard is a medium-sized wild cat native to Borneo and Sumatra. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 2015, as the total effective population probably consists of fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, with a decreasing population trend. On both Sunda islands, it is threatened by deforestation.

Bornean clouded leopard subspecies of medium-sized wild cat

The Bornean clouded leopard is a subspecies of the Sunda clouded leopard. It is native to the island of Borneo, and differs from the Batu-Sumatran clouded leopard in the shape and frequency of spots, as well as in cranio-mandibular and dental characters. In 2017, the Cat Classification Taskforce of the Cat Specialist Group recognized the validity of this subspecies.

Red-breasted partridge Species of bird

The red-breasted partridge, also known as the Bornean hill-partridge, is a species of bird in the family Phasianidae. It is endemic to hill and montane forest in Borneo, preferring bamboos and thickets. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed it as a least-concern species.

Bornean smooth-tailed treeshrew species of mammal

The Bornean smooth-tailed treeshrew is a species of treeshrew in the family Tupaiidae. It is endemic to Borneo. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical dry forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Borneo lowland rain forests ecoregion of Borneo

The Borneo lowland rain forests is an ecoregion, within the tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests biome, of the large island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. It supports approximately 15,000 plant species, 380 bird species and several mammal species. The Borneo lowland rain forests is diminishing due to logging, hunting and conversion to commercial land use.

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References

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