Leopard cats in the news: illegal wildlife trade
It was a busy semester with teaching and other duties, but I managed to somehow squeeze in a conference, and two stakeholder talks (NParks and Wildlife Reserves Singapore) amid the rush.
Leopard cat news appeared several times during the 2nd half of the year, and the two compiled below are those that I remember. The first was most memorable as I showed the embedded video in class and discussed it with my students of Environment and Civil Society of Singapore. The other is more recent, and more grisly. Both show the need to combat illegal wildlife trade in the region.
Here, a leopard cat and other species were trafficked online and perpetrators were busted by Malaysian wildlife officers. Most of the animals were still alive when the offenders were caught. Hopefully they make it back to the wild safe.
People in Malaysia can report illegal wildlife trade by calling 019-3564194. The hotline is managed by an alliance involving Traffic, Malayan Nature Society, WCS Malaysia and WWF Malaysia.
In Myanmar, Traffic reported that the trade in wild cat parts to China has increased by more than three folds, while trade to Thailand has seen a five-fold decrease. It is a bit of a bittersweet revelation from a recent publication by Nijman and Shepherd.
In the markets surveyed, the leopard cat was the second most commonly traded wild cat species, with 458 individuals from 11 surveys. Parts traded included whole skin, skin parts, skull/head and paws. The clouded leopard was the most commonly traded species.
Such trade may have an impact on wild population, and is particularly worrying for the tiger (4th most commonly traded), which is endangered. The authors recommend increased enforcement and cooperation between governments to combat this illegal trade.