NEW TYPE OF GOLDEN CAT DISCOVERED
A peep into the Tibet
The wide range of distribution and food habits of the Asiatic golden cat is due to its adaptive physical modifications—they exhibit different coat color variations known as color morphs. In Bhutan, four different morphs of Asiatic golden cats (Golden form, ocelot form, melanistic form, and grey form) were recorded.
The Asian golden cat is a medium-sized wild cat native to the northeastern Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and southern China. But in Bhutan a new study revealed the presence of two new color morphs, cinnamon and the rosetted morphs of the Asiatic golden cat. It is believed that the Asiatic golden cat’s polymorphism helps them overcome competition and predation from larger carnivores in the wild.
This finding was the result of the joint research project on resolving population estimation biases from camera-trap studies undertaken by the World Wildlife Fund and others.The study site was in the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park and Royal Manas National Park in central Bhutan.
Asiatic Golden Cat (Catopuma temminckii) is one of the widely distributed wildcat species in Bhutan from lower subtropics to areas above 3,000m. It is one of the largest of all the other small cats. The predatory animal like all other in cat family is generally found in forested habitats with some records from scrubs, open rocky terrain, and grasslands from sea level to 4,000m.
The feeding habit of the Asiatic golden cat usually is nocturnal, and it feeds on birds, lizards, small mammals, barking deer, monkeys, and mouse deer. There are also records of hunting of sheep, buffalo calves, sheep, and goats, the prey larger than their body size.
The wide range of distribution and food habits of the Asiatic golden cat is due to its adaptive physical modifications—they exhibit different coat color variations known as color morphs.In Bhutan, four different morphs of Asiatic golden cats (Golden form, ocelot form, melanistic form, and grey form) were recorded.
Wild cats are magnificent ecosystem engineers, with most of them occupying the top position in the trophic. The role of small cats in controlling rodents population to the trophic cascade from big cats helps in the healthy regeneration of forests to maintaining the balanced ecosystem of the landscape. However, wild cats are one of the most conflicted animals with humans. Therefore, continuous monitoring and study of these wildcats are necessary for conservation intervention and mitigation of threats to their survival from negative interaction with the human settlements. Bhutan has 11 species of wild cats on record, nine confirmed, and the presence of lynx and fishing cats based on anecdotal sources. The camera traps had captured seven of the 11 species.