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Chinese Mountain Cat (Felis bieti)

The Chinese Mountain Cat (Felis bieti), also known as the Chinese Desert Cat, is a small wild cat of western China. It is the least known member of the genus Felis and it is more likely a subspecies of Felis silvestris (then called Felis silvestris bieti).

Except for the colour of its fur, this cat resembles an European Wild Cat in its physical appearance. 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. They have a relatively broad skull, and long hair growing between the pads of their feet.

The Chinese Mountain Cat is endemic to China and has a limited distribution over the northeastern parts of the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai and northern Sichuan. It inhabits sparsely-wooded forests and shrublands, and is occasionally found in true deserts. It has been observed in environments from 2,800 to 4,100 metres (9,200 to 13,500 ft) in elevation.

The Chinese Mountain Cat is active at night; it hunts for rodents, pikas, and birds. They breed between January and March, giving birth to two to four kittens in a secluded burrow.

It is almost unbelievable but this cat seems to be protected in China. However, it is still endangered due to the organised poisoning of pikas, its main prey; these poisonings either kill the cats unintentionally, or withdraw their food basis.

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Borneo Bay Cat (Pardofelis Badia)

One of the world’s least-known and most endangered wild cats, the bay cat, has been photographed by Panthera grantees Jedediah Brodie (Universiti Malaysia Sabah/ University of British Columbia) and Anthony Giordano (S.P.E.C.I.E.S/Texas Tech University). Their photograph is the first record of this very elusive cat in the Borneo highlands, at 1460 meters (approximately 4,800 feet).

The records add to our very limited knowledge of the species, which was photographed alive for the first time only in 1998 and where most previous records are from dense lowland forest under 800 meters (approximately 2,600 feet).

Borneo’s bay cat is so elusive that it took over a century before researchers got a chance to study a live one in detail. Covered in striking, rust-red fur with white under the tail and face stripes, this cat was officially named in 1874 on the basis of a skull and torn skin sent to England by the famous naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace. Naturalists didn’t have a chance to study a live one until a bay cat was captured in 1992, and the cat remains so difficult to find that researchers know very little about how this secretive cat actually lives. The fact that the cat is so difficult to find is all the more frustrating because conservationists list the felid as endangered. The deforestation of Borneo may wipe out the bay cat before scientists get a chance to find out more about it.

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