Leopard cats thriving on Pulau Tekong
They might be of the same size as a domestic cat, but make no mistake — they are definitely not your average house cat…
As they are incredibly WILD.
But are CUTE nonetheless.
The leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) is a critically endangered species — with less than 50 mature adults — in Singapore.
In fact, according to mammal expert Marcus Chua, there are only about 20 leopard cats on Singapore’s mainland.
The jungle cat used to be a common sight from 1800s to 1920s, but after massive deforestation and loss of habitat, they have been driven to the brink of extinction.
Thankfully, Mr Chua has found a thriving population of leopard cats on Pulau Tekong — known for being a military training ground.
Mr Chua has studied the cats, which are known for their spotted marking and nocturnal behaviour, and identified 29 of them based on their unique patterns on their coat.
Ironically, Tekong, which is 32 times smaller than Singapore, has a larger population of these felines.
The reason for the leopard cat’s larger population in Tekong
The critically endangered cats are thriving on Tekong as they do not have to compete with civets (which exists only on the mainland) for prey including birds, insects and rats.
Leopard cats are in the middle of the food chain, and are hence also prey for larger carnivores such as pythons.
Mr Chua’s study also revealed that these felines are actually pretty resilient to human disturbances.
He also found that the majority of the cats populate the Eastern side of Tekong, with 13 of them found on the oil palm plantation.
He was also surprised by 8 others located at the reclaimed and original parts of the island.
The researcher believes that the fruiting trees draw prey to the plantations, thus becoming a “buffet table” for the leopard cats.
Despite the fact that the cats thrive in Tekong’s plantations, he maintains that forests are still crucial to the conservation of these cats.
Mr Chua has gleaned a great amount of information on these elusive cats in his 2010 to 2012 study funded by Wildlife Reserves Singapore.
However, more information on neighbouring country’s leopard cats is required for conservation efforts.
Other endangered animals in Singapore
The Sunda pangolin is also near extinction and listed on the Red Book, a publication of all the endangered species in Singapore.
It is a nocturnal creature covered in scales, and endangered due to habitat loss.
They are slow moving animals, and thus have a tendency to get run over by cars.
It seems like Tekong, with its secondary forests intact as well as a lack of other competition, is a conducive environment for saving our endangered leopard cats.
We sure hope to see more of these little cats around!
Like this post and MustShareNews’ Facebook page to keep up with more of our interesting news!
Talk to us! Send in your story suggestions or comments to email@example.com
Featured image via climbingmountkinabalu
With reference to The Straits Times
Drop us your email so you won't miss the latest news.