There are some 41 species of cats living in the world today, and out of them, five species stand out as being extraordinarily rare.
Each of these species now may have lesser than 4,000 individuals living in the wild—and their habitats and food sources are getting reduced daily. As such, all of these rare cats’ populations are now declining.
Let’s make you known to these rare wild creatures:
1. Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia)
Snow leopards live in the mountains of Central Asia, at the altitudes of 10,990 to 22,000 ft (3,350 to 6,700 meters). Their biggest threats are insufficient prey (due to humans’ illegally hunting down their prey), poaching, and conflict with local people. There are an estimated 4,080 to 6,590 individuals in the wild, but less than 2,500 of these are able to reproduce.
2. Fishing Cat (Prionailurus viverrinus)
Fishing cats inhabit wetlands in parts of South and Southeast Asia, especially near streams, rivers, and mangrove swamps. Their IUCN status is endangered, as their wetland areas are rampantly being settled or converted into agricultural land.
3. Borneo Bay Cat (Pardofelis badia)
Borneo bay cats are nocturnal and very secretive, and they live only on the island of Borneo. They have been a rare primitive animal, even in pristine habitats, but because of extensive deforestation, their already-scanted population is projected to decline 20% by the year 2020.
4. Flat-headed Cat (Prionailurus planiceps)
Flat-headed cats inhabit lowland forest wetlands in the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Borneo, and Sumatra. Like the fishing cat (their close relative), flat-headed cats’ being dependent on wetlands leaves them vulnerable, as these habitats are frequently converted or destroyed. There may be fewer than 2,500 flat-headed cats left in the world.
5. Andean Cat (Leopardus jacobita)
Andean cats are quite similar to the snow leopard: they live well above the tree line, at elevations of 11,500–15,700 feet (3,500–4,800 meters), wherever there is enough water to support them. Habitat loss and degradation (e.g. from mining) are turning this species from a rare population to an endangered one.
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