Chinese mountain cat

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Chinese mountain cat
Chinese Mountain Cat (Felis Bieti) in XiNing Wild Zoo.jpg
Chinese mountain cat in Xining Zoo
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Felinae
Genus: Felis
Species:
F. bieti [2] [3]
Binomial name
Felis bieti [2] [3]
ChineseMountainCat distribution.jpg
Distribution of the Chinese mountain cat, 2015 [1]

The Chinese mountain cat (Felis bieti), also known as Chinese desert cat and Chinese steppe cat, is a small wild cat endemic to western China that has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 2002, as the effective population size may be fewer than 10,000 mature breeding individuals. [1]

Contents

It was provisionally classified as a wildcat subspecies with the name F. silvestris bieti in 2007. [4] It is recognised as a valid species since 2017, as it is morphologically distinct from wildcats. [2]

Taxonomy

The scientific name Felis bieti was proposed by Alphonse Milne-Edwards in 1892 who described the Chinese mountain cat based on a skin collected in Sichuan Province. He named it Felis Bieti after the French missionary Félix Biet. [5]

Some authorities consider the chutuchta and vellerosa subspecies of the wildcat as Chinese mountain cat subspecies. [3]

Characteristics

The Chinese mountain cat has sand-coloured fur with dark guard hairs. Faint dark horizontal stripes on the face and legs are hardly visible. Its ears have black tips. It has a relatively broad skull, and long hair growing between the pads of their feet. It is whitish on the belly, and its legs and tail bear black rings. The tip of the tail is black. It is 69–84 cm (27–33 in) long in head and body with a 29–41 cm (11–16 in) long tail. Adults weigh from 6.5–9 kg (14–20 lb). [6]

Distribution and habitat

The Chinese mountain cat is endemic to China and lives on the north-eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. It was recorded only in eastern Qinghai and north-western Sichuan. [7] It inhabits high-elevation steppe grassland, alpine meadow, alpine shrubland and coniferous forest edges between 2,500 and 5,000 m (8,200 and 16,400 ft) elevation. It has not been confirmed in true desert or heavily forested mountains. [8]

The first photographs of a wild Chinese mountain cat were taken by camera traps during light snow in May 2007 at 3,570 m (11,710 ft) elevation in Sichuan. These photographs were taken in rolling grasslands and brush-covered mountains. [9] One individual was observed and photographed in May 2015 in the Ruoergai grasslands. [10] Between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, Chinese mountain cats were documented in an alpine meadow in the southeastern Sanjiangyuan region. [11]

Ecology and behaviour

The Chinese mountain cat is active at night and preys on pikas, rodents and birds. It breeds between January and March. Females give birth to two to four kittens in a secluded burrow. [8]

Until 2007, the Chinese mountain cat was known only from six individuals, all living in Chinese zoos, and a few skins in museums. [9]

Threats

The Chinese mountain cat is threatened due to the organised poisoning of pikas. The poison used diminishes prey species and also kills cats unintentionally. [7]

Conservation

Felis bieti is listed on CITES Appendix II. [1] It is protected in China.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Felis is a genus of small and medium-sized cat species native to most of Africa and south of 60° latitude in Europe and Asia to Indochina. The genus includes the domestic cat. The smallest Felis species is the black-footed cat with a head and body length from 38 to 42 cm. The largest is the jungle cat with a head and body length from 62 to 76 cm.

Wildcat Small wild cat

The wildcat is a species complex comprising two small wild cat species, the European wildcat and the African wildcat. The European wildcat inhabits forests in Europe and the Caucasus, while the African wildcat inhabits semi-arid landscapes and steppes in Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Central Asia, into western India and western China. The wildcat species differ in fur pattern, tail, and size: the European wildcat has long fur and a bushy tail with a rounded tip; the smaller African wildcat is more faintly striped, has short sandy-gray fur and a tapering tail; the Asiatic wildcat is spotted.

Sand cat Small wild cat

The sand cat, also known as the sand dune cat, is a small wild cat living in sandy and stony deserts far from water sources. With its sandy to light grey fur, it is well camouflaged in a desert environment. Its head-and-body length ranges from 39–52 cm (15–20 in) with a 23–31 cm (9.1–12.2 in) long tail. Its 5–7 cm (2.0–2.8 in) long ears are set low on the sides of the head, aiding detection of prey moving underground. The long hair covering the soles of its feet insulate its foot pads against the extremely hot and cold temperatures in deserts.

Jungle cat Medium-sized wild cat

The jungle cat, also called reed cat and swamp cat, is a medium-sized cat native to the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia and southern China. It inhabits foremost wetlands like swamps, littoral and riparian areas with dense vegetation. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, and is mainly threatened by destruction of wetlands, trapping and poisoning.

Pallass cat Small wild cat

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Asian golden cat Small wild cat

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<i>Catopuma</i>

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.

Leopard cat Small wild cat

The leopard cat is a small wild cat native to continental South, Southeast, and East Asia. Since 2002 it has been listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List as it is widely distributed although threatened by habitat loss and hunting in parts of its range.

Kodkod Small wild cat

The kodkod, also called güiña, is the smallest cat in the Americas. It lives primarily in central and southern Chile and marginally in adjoining areas of Argentina. Its area of distribution is small compared to the other South American cats. Since 2002, it has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List as the total effective population may comprise less than 10,000 mature individuals, and is threatened due to persecution and loss of habitat and prey base.

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Tibetan fox

The Tibetan fox, also known as Tibetan sand fox, is a species of true fox endemic to the high Tibetan Plateau, Ladakh plateau, Nepal, China, Sikkim, and Bhutan, up to altitudes of about 5,300 m (17,400 ft). It is listed as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List, on account of its widespread range in the Tibetan Plateau's steppes and semi-deserts.

Asiatic wildcat Small wild cat

The Asiatic wildcat is an African wildcat subspecies that occurs from the eastern Caspian Sea north to Kazakhstan, into western India, western China and southern Mongolia. It is also known as the Asian steppe wildcat and Indian desert cat. The status Least Concern in the IUCN Red List is attributed to the wildcat species complex. There is no information on current status or population numbers for the Asiatic wildcat's entire range, but populations are thought to be declining.

African wildcat Small wild cat

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Chinese red pika

The Chinese red pika is a species of mammal in the family Ochotonidae. Typical of a pika it has short limbs, a small tail and round ears. Specific to the Chinese red pika has distinctive red color in its pelt. The Chinese pika typically lives in rocky terrain at altitudes between 600–1200 meters. and is endemic to the East Qinghai, West Gansu and Northern Sichuan provinces of China and Eastern Tibet.

Moupin pika Species of mammal

The Moupin pika, also known as Ribetischer Pika, Moupin-Pika, Pika del Tibet, and Manipuri pika, is a species of mammal in the pika family, Ochotonidae. It has many subspecies, some of which may be distinct species. Its summer pelage is dark russet-brown with some light spots on the dorsal side, and ochraceous buff tinged on the belly. In winter it is lighter, with buff to dull brown dorsal pelage. A generalist herbivore, it is found in the mountains of the eastern Tibetan Plateau in China, Bhutan, India (Sikkim), and northern Myanmar. Both the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Endangered Species and the Red List of China's Vertebrates classify it as a species of least concern; although one subspecies may be endangered.

Small Cat Conservation Alliance

The Small Cat Conservation Alliance (SCCA) was founded in 1996, to address the conservation needs of small wild cats and their habitat worldwide. Small Cat Conservation Alliance seeks out local scientists and volunteers that are working to protect small cats in remote regions worldwide. They collect data that can be used to seek endangered species classification. SCCA operates in Kalimantan (Borneo), Sumatra, Chile, and China; and works with partners in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, India, Sarawak, Suriname and Vietnam. The Small Cat Conservation is also partnered with the Wildlife Conservation Network.

Chinese leopard

The term Chinese leopard refers to any of the following three leopard subspecies occurring in China:

Arabian wildcat

The Arabian wildcat, also called Gordon's wildcat is a wildcat subspecies that inhabits the Arabian Peninsula. It was first described in 1968 by British zoologist David Harrison who named it Felis silvestris gordoni in honour of Major A.C. Gordon who collected the type specimen in Oman.

References

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