Chinese mountain cat

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Chinese mountain cat[1]
Chinese Mountain Cat (Felis Bieti) in XiNing Wild Zoo.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Felis
Species: F. bieti
Binomial name
Felis bieti
Milne-Edwards, 1892
Felis bieti map.svg
Distribution of the Chinese mountain cat (in green)

The Chinese mountain cat (Felis bieti), also known as the Chinese desert cat and the Chinese steppe cat, is a wild cat of western China that has been classified as Vulnerable by IUCN, as the effective population size may be fewer than 10,000 mature breeding individuals.[2]

Since 2007, it is classified as a wildcat subspecies, F. silvestris bieti, based on genetic analysis.[3]

Description[edit]

Except for the colour of its fur, this cat resembles a European wildcat in its physical appearance. It is 27–33 in (69–84 cm) long, plus a 11.5–16 in (29–41 cm) tail. The adult weight can range from 6.5 to 9 kilograms (14 to 20 lb). They have a relatively broad skull, and long hair growing between the pads of their feet.[4]

The fur is sand-coloured with dark guard hairs; the underside is whitish, legs and tail bear black rings. In addition there are faint dark horizontal stripes on the face and legs, which may be hardly visible. The ears and tail have black tips, and there are also a few dark bands on the tail.[4]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Chinese mountain cats are endemic to China and have a limited distribution over the north-eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Eastern Qinghai and north-western Sichuan account for all confirmed records of the Chinese mountain cat.[5]

Chinese mountain cats occur in 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. They have not been confirmed in true desert or heavily forested mountains.[6]

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) altitude in Sichuan. These photographs were taken in rolling grasslands and brush covered mountains.[7]

Ecology and behaviour[edit]

Chinese mountain cats are active at night; they hunt for rodents, pikas, and birds. They breed between January and March, giving birth to two to four kittens in a secluded burrow.[4]

Until 2007, this cat was known only from six animals, all living in Chinese zoos, and a few skins in museums.

Threats[edit]

The Chinese mountain cat is threatened due to the organised poisoning of pikas, its main prey. These poisonings either kill the cats unintentionally, or diminish their supply of food.

Conservation[edit]

Felis bieti is listed on CITES Appendix II.[2] It is protected in China.

Taxonomic history[edit]

Alphonse Milne-Edwards first described the Chinese mountain cat in 1892 from a specimen collected in Tibet under the name Felis Bieti after the French missionary Félix Biet.[8]

Some authorities consider the chutuchta and vellerosa subspecies of the wildcat as Chinese mountain cat subspecies.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 534. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ a b c Sanderson, J., Mallon, D. P., Driscoll, C. (2010). "Felis silvestris ssp. bieti". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 
  3. ^ Driscoll, C. A., Menotti-Raymond, M., Roca, A. L. Hupe, K., Johnson, W. E., Geffen, E., Harley, E. H., Delibes, M., Pontier, D., Kitchener, A. C., Yamaguchi, N., O’Brien, S. J., Macdonald, D. W. (2007). "The Near Eastern Origin of Cat Domestication". Science 317 (5837): 519–523. doi:10.1126/science.1139518. PMID 17600185. 
  4. ^ a b c Sunquist, Mel; Sunquist, Fiona (2002). Wild cats of the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 57–59. ISBN 0-226-77999-8. 
  5. ^ He, L., Garcia-Perea, R., Li M., Wei, F. (2004) Distribution and conservation status of the endemic Chinese mountain cat Felis bieti'. Oryx 38: 55–61.
  6. ^ Liao Y. (1988) Some biological information of desert cat in Qinhai. Acta Theriologica Sinica 8: 128–131.
  7. ^ Yin Y., Drubgyal N., Achu, Lu Z., Sanderson J. (2007) First photographs in nature of the Chinese mountain cat. Cat News 47: 6–7
  8. ^ Milne-Edwards, A. (1892) Observations sur les mammifères du Thibet. Revue générale des sciences pures et appliquées. Tome III: 670–671.

External links[edit]