Pallas's cat

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Pallas's cat
Manoel.jpg
A manul at Rotterdam Zoo
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Felinae
Genus: Otocolobus
Brandt, 1841
Species:
O. manul [2]
Binomial name
Otocolobus manul [2]
(Pallas, 1776)
Manul distribution.jpg
Distribution of Pallas's cat in 2016 [1]

Pallas's cat (Otocolobus manul), also called the manul, is a small wild cat with a broad, but fragmented distribution in the grasslands and montane steppes of Central Asia. It is negatively affected by habitat degradation, prey base decline and hunting. It has been classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since 2020. [1]

Contents

The Pallas's cat was first described in 1776 by the German naturalist Peter Simon Pallas. [3] [4]

Taxonomy

Felis manul was the scientific name used by Peter Simon Pallas in 1776, who first described a Pallas's cat that he had encountered during his travels in eastern Siberia. [3] [4] Several Pallas's cat zoological specimens were subsequently described:

Otocolobus was proposed by Johann Friedrich von Brandt in 1842 as generic name. [7] [8] Reginald Innes Pocock recognized the taxonomic classification of Otocolobus in 1907, described several Pallas's cat skulls in detail, and considered the Pallas's cat an aberrant form of Felis. [9]

In the 1960s, John Ellerman and Terence Morrison-Scott considered

Since 2017, the Cat Classification Task Force of the Cat Specialist Group recognises only two subspecies as valid taxa, namely: [11]

Phylogeny

Phylogenetic analysis of the nuclear DNA in tissue samples from all Felidae species revealed that the evolutionary radiation of the Felidae began in Asia in the Miocene around 14.45 to 8.38 million years ago . [12] [13] Analysis of mitochondrial DNA of all Felidae species indicates a radiation at around 16.76 to 6.46 million years ago . [14] The Pallas's cat is estimated to have genetically diverged from a common ancestor with the genus Prionailurus between 8.55 to 4.8 million years ago , based on analysis of nuclear DNA. [12] and 9.4 to 1.46 million years ago based on analysis of mitochondrial DNA. [14]

Characteristics

The ears are set low and wide apart Felis manul -Howletts Wild Animal Park -8.jpg
The ears are set low and wide apart

The Pallas's cat is about the size of a domestic cat. Its body is 46 to 65 cm (18 to 26 in) long and its tail 21 to 31 cm (8.3 to 12.2 in). It weighs 2.5 to 4.5 kg (5.5 to 9.9 lb). The combination of its stocky posture and long, dense fur makes it appear stout and plush. Its fur is ochre with dark vertical bars on the torso and forelegs. The winter coat is greyer and less patterned than the summer coat. There are clear black rings on the tail and dark spots on the forehead. The cheeks are white with narrow black stripes running from the corners of the eyes. The chin and throat are also white, merging into the greyish, silky fur of the underparts. Concentric white and black rims around the eyes accentuate their rounded shape. The legs are proportionately shorter than those of other cats, the ears are set very low and wide apart, and the claws are unusually short. The face is shortened compared with other cats, giving it a flattened look. The pupils are circular rather than vertical slits. The short jaw has fewer teeth than is typical among cats, with the first pair of upper premolars missing, but the canine teeth are large. [15]

Distribution and habitat

The Pallas's cat is native to the steppe regions of Central Asia, where it inhabits elevations of up to 5,050 m (16,570 ft) on the Tibetan Plateau. [16] It also lives in parts of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, India, Bhutan and Mongolia, and occur across much of western China. In the south of Russia it lives in the Transbaikal Krai, and alos in the Altai, Tyva, and Buryatia Republics. [1] In 1997, it was reported for the first time as being present in the eastern Sayan Mountains. [17]

Until the early 1970s, only two Pallas's cats were recorded in the Transcaucasus, both encountered near the Aras River in northwestern Iran. [18] Populations in the Caspian Sea region, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, are thought to be declining and becoming increasingly isolated. [19] [20]

In the 21st century, several Pallas' cats were photographed for the first time during camera trapping surveys:

In Ladakh's Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary, Pallas's cats were sighted near Hanle River at an elevation of 4,202 m (13,786 ft) in 2013, and at 4,160 m (13,650 ft) in 2015. [26]

Behaviour and ecology

Pallas's cat at the Zurich Zoo Manul2.jpg
Pallas's cat at the Zurich Zoo

Pallas's cats are solitary. Both males and females scent mark their territory. They spend the day in caves, rock crevices, or marmot burrows, and emerge in the late afternoon to begin hunting. They are not fast runners, and hunt primarily by ambush or stalking, using low vegetation and rocky terrain for cover. They feed largely on diurnally active prey species such as gerbils, pikas, voles and chukar partridges, and sometimes catch young marmots. [15]

Reproduction

The breeding season is relatively short due to the extreme climate in the cat's native range. Estrus lasts between 26 and 42 hours, which is also shorter than in many other felids. Pallas's cats give birth to a litter of two to six kittens after a gestation period of 66 to 75 days, typically in April or May. Such large litters may compensate for a high rate of infant mortality in the harsh environment. The young are born in sheltered dens lined with dried vegetation, feathers, and fur. The kittens weigh around 90 g (3.2 oz) at birth, and have a thick coat of fuzzy fur, which is replaced by the adult coat after around two months. They are able to begin hunting at four months, and reach adult size at six months. Pallas's cats have been reported to live up to 11 years in captivity. [15]

Threats

Female manul: Note the "pinhole" shape of its contracted pupil WhfPallasCat.JPG
Female manul: Note the "pinhole" shape of its contracted pupil

The Pallas's cat has been hunted for its fur in relatively large numbers in China, Mongolia, and Russia; international trade in manul pelts largely ceased since the late 1980s. [27] About 1,000 hunters of Pallas's cats remain in Mongolia, with a mean estimated take of 2,000 cats per year. Cats are also shot when mistaken for the commonly hunted marmot, and trapped incidentally in both legholds set for wolves and foxes and snares set for marmots and hares. They are also killed by herding dogs. While Mongolia has not recorded any trophy exports, pelt exports have grown since 2000, with 143 reported exported in 2007. [1]

Conservation

The Pallas's cat is listed in CITES Appendix II. Hunting is prohibited in all range countries except Mongolia, where the species has no legal protection. Since 2009, it is legally protected in Afghanistan, where all hunting and trade in its parts is banned. [1]

The cat is being studied in the Daursky Nature Reserve in Russia to obtain new information about habitats and migrations, and to estimate the survival rate of kittens and adult cats. [28]

In captivity

Manul kitten in Parken Zoo, Sweden Manul kitten.jpg
Manul kitten in Parken Zoo, Sweden

As of 2010, there were 47 Pallas's cats in 19 member institutions of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums; four litters were expected. No births and three deaths occurred in 2009. The 30-day mortality of 44.9% is the highest mortality rate of any small wild cat. The seasonality of its reproduction makes it difficult to control reproductive cycles. [29] Keeping Pallas's cats healthy in captivity is difficult. They breed well, but survival rates are low owing to infections, which are attributed to an underdeveloped immune system and exposure to viruses not present in their natural high-altitude habitat. [30]

In June 2010, five kittens were born in the Red River Zoo in Fargo. [31] A female was artificially inseminated for the first time at the Cincinnati Zoo and gave birth to three kittens in June 2011. [32] In May 2013, three kittens were born at the Nordens Ark zoo. [33] In May 2016, four kittens were born at the Korkeasaari zoo. [34] In March 2017, five kittens were born in the Hogle Zoo. In April 2017, five kittens were again born in the Red River Zoo in Fargo. [35] In April 2019, Miller Park Zoo announced five kittens; their father was imported from the Czech Republic. [36] In May 2020 six kittens were born at the Poznan zoo. [37] One of them escaped the zoo and was retrieved a few days later in October 2020. [38]

Etymology

The Pallas's cat alternate name 'manul' is the Kyrgyz word for the cat. In Mongolian language, it is called 'manol'. [4] The name 'Pallas's cat' was coined by William Thomas Blanford. [39] The alternate spelling 'Pallas’ cat' is also used.

Related Research Articles

Felidae Family of mammals

Felidae is a family of mammals in the order Carnivora, colloquially referred to as cats, and constitutes a clade. A member of this family is also called a felid. The term "cat" refers both to felids in general and specifically to the domestic cat.

Clouded leopard

The clouded leopard is a medium-sized wild cat occurring from the Himalayan foothills through mainland Southeast Asia into southern China. Since 2008, it is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Its total population is suspected to be fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, with a decreasing population trend, and no single population numbering more than 1,000 adults.

<i>Felis</i> Genus of mammals (cats)

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.

Ocelot Small wild cat

The ocelot is a small wild cat native to the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central and South America. This medium-sized cat is characterized by solid black spots and streaks on its coat, round ears, and white neck and undersides. It weighs between 8 and 15.5 kg and reaches 40–50 cm at the shoulders. It was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758. Two subspecies are recognized: L. p. pardalis and L. p. mitis.

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.

Black-footed cat Small wild cat native to Southern Africa

The black-footed cat, also called the small-spotted cat, is the smallest wild cat in Africa, having a head-and-body length of 35–52 cm (14–20 in). Despite its name, only the soles of its feet are black or dark brown. With its bold small spots and stripes on the tawny fur, it is well camouflaged, especially on moonlit nights. It bears black streaks running from the corners of the eyes along the cheeks, and its banded tail has a black tip.

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.

African golden cat Small wild cat

The African golden cat is a wild cat endemic to the rainforests of West and Central Africa. It is threatened due to deforestation and bushmeat hunting and listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. It is a close relative of both the caracal and the serval. Previously, it was placed in the genus Profelis. Its body size ranges from 61 to 101 cm with a 16 to 46 cm long tail.

Serval Small wild cat

The serval is a wild cat native to Africa. It is rare in North Africa and the Sahel, but widespread in sub-Saharan countries except rainforest regions. On the IUCN Red List it is listed as Least Concern. Across its range, it occurs in protected areas, and hunting it is either prohibited or regulated in range countries.

Caracal Small wild cat

The caracal is a medium-sized wild cat native to Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and India. It is characterised by a robust build, long legs, a short face, long tufted ears, and long canine teeth. Its coat is uniformly reddish tan or sandy, while the ventral parts are lighter with small reddish markings. It reaches 40–50 cm (16–20 in) at the shoulder and weighs 8–19 kg (18–42 lb). It was first scientifically described by German naturalist Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber in 1776. Three subspecies are recognised.

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.

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Jaguarundi Small wild cat

The jaguarundi is a wild cat native to the Americas. Its range extends from central Argentina in the south to the US–Mexico border in the north, through Central and South America east of the Andes. The jaguarundi is a medium-sized cat of slender build. Its coloration is uniform, similar to that of its closest relative, the much larger cougar, but differing significantly from other neotropical cats. It has an elongated body with relatively short legs, a small, narrow head, small, round ears, a short snout and a long tail, resembling otters and weasels in these respects. It is around twice as large as the domestic cat, reaching nearly 36 cm (14 in) at the shoulder and weighs 3.5–7 kg (7.7–15.4 lb). It has two color morphs — gray and red.

<i>Prionailurus</i>

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Marbled cat Small wild cat

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Felinae

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African wildcat Small wild cat

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Snow leopard

The snow leopard, also known as the ounce, is a large cat native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because the global population is estimated to number less than 10,000 mature individuals and is expected to decline about 10% by 2040. It is threatened by poaching and habitat destruction following infrastructural developments. It inhabits alpine and subalpine zones at elevations from 3,000 to 4,500 m, ranging from eastern Afghanistan, the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau, to southern Siberia, Mongolia and western China. In the northern range countries, it also lives at lower elevations.

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