【Special Topic】Green Anniversary - Leopard Cat (in Chinese “shih hu”) Day in Taiwan
Most people in Taiwan have heard about leopard cats. Although their appearance and size are similar to domestic cats, the white patches on the back of their black ears and the white stripes in the inner corner of their eyes are the characteristics that tell them apart. Leopard cats are the only surviving endemic cat species in Taiwan. Graded as a level I endangered species with few numbers, leopard cats could face extinction in Taiwan if people don’t protect them with great effort. Therefore, the Endemic Species Research Institute’s Conservation Education Center (ESRICEC) of the Ministry of Agriculture (now Taiwan Biodiversity Research Institute) declared October 5th (in Chinese “shih wu”)to be Leopard Cat (in Chinese “shih hu”) Day due to homophone with an ambition is to raise the awareness of leopard cats conservation through an unforgettable date.
Leopard cats live in low-altitude mountain areas that are close to or even overlap with the developed areas. Hence, leopard cats face loss of habitats, deteriorating environment, roadkill, attacks from stray cats or dogs, or harm from farmers for hunting their chickens.
The good news is that more and more experts and institutions are taking action to protect leopard cats. Take Miaoli County for example, they use the reimbursement from the National Green Network for Land Conservation project through wire netting fence installation on both sides of highways or slow traffic signs to decrease the number of roadkill. National Chung Hsing University worked with the Highway Bureau to develop the first roadkill warning system. In addition, ESRICEC, the Forestry and Nature Conservation Agency, and the Leopard Cat Association of Taiwan have made efforts to cope with the chicken coups conflicts, They helped poultry farmers to build netting fences, reinforce chicken coups, and perform monitoring research to reduce residents’ hostility towards leopard cats.
Anyone can take part in leopard cat conservation, such as slowing down their speed when driving through leopard cat hotspots or showing support for environmental-friendly farm produce. You can even introduce leopard cats to more people on Leopard Cats Day.
Note: The picture is taken from 《大地的孩子：小石虎返家之路》