Tag: wildcats

Can You Spot The Cat? Mountain Lion Edition!

This is the real deal, friends. Not a cheesy low-res photo or an intentionally obtuse shot with three pixels of a tail visible.

There’s a cat in this photo — a puma to be exact — and finding it is a good reminder of how awesome these elusive felids are, as well as how well they hide themselves from humans and fellow wildlife alike:

Hidden mountain lion in Nevada
Credit: John Tull, US Fish and Wildlife Service

The photo comes courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Services and eagle-eyed photographer John Tull, who spotted the well-hidden cat in rural Washoe County, Nevada.

Mountain lions are the second-largest cats in the Americas behind jaguars, and although they look like lionesses, they pose little danger to humans. About 15 people have died in conflicts with mountain lions over the past 100 years. Dogs, by contrast, kill between 30 and 50 people a year.

Mountain lions are also known as pumas, cougars, catamounts and panthers, among other names. The word “panther” is a nonspecific word for large cats and is often used in association with jaguars and leopards.

Known scientifically as puma concolor, these mysterious cats are more closely related to small cats (felis) than big cats (panthera), and have the distinction of being the largest cats who can meow.

‘Social Influencer’ Thinks He Saw A Panther…In New Zealand

A New Zealand man says he filmed a “panther” after taking blurry footage of a house cat.

Kyle Mulinder does his best Steve Irwin impression with a breathless “Look at that thing! Amazing!” while zooming in on what looks an awful lot like a domestic cat.

Mulinder continues to provide commentary and generously estimates the cat at “four foot high” as it dashes off a dirt road into a wooded area in New Zealand’s Hanmer Springs Heritage Forest.

Here’s a screenshot of the cat. I wasn’t able to embed the video, so you’ll have to visit the New Zealand Herald to watch it.

Screenshot_2020-11-30 Canterbury mystery Is it a cat or is it a panther - NZ Herald

A handful of New Zealanders have said they’ve seen a large cat since at least this summer, long enough for the local press to dub the cat the Canterbury Panther. Various reports identify the cat as grey, tawny or black.

Mulinder, who calls himself Bare Kiwi online, demonstrated a flair for the dramatic while telling his tale to the Herald.

“It was about 50 metres away, strolling in the other direction but it sat down, turned and looked into my soul,” Mulinder said. “It was a very emotional experience. I was fearing for my life.”

(Insert terrifying Buddy joke here.)

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Yolanda van Heezik, a zoologist at New Zealand’s Otago University, said the chances of a big cat on the loose are “extremely unlikely.”

Aside from the lack of convincing footage of the Canterbury Panther, there aren’t any obvious signs of a mountain lion, jaguar or leopard, van Heezik said. Those signs could include scratches from large claws high up in trees, widespread scent-marking and the trail of prey that would be left by a large carnivore.

“No one’s ever caught one, no one’s ever got really good evidence that they are something different from just a large feral cat,” she said earlier this month. “And there’s also a complete lack of evidence that is indirect like if you had a really big cat like that you would expect there to be more stock kills, for example, but we don’t really have that evidence either.”

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Aside from the cat’s small size, there are other obvious reasons why it’s unlikely to be a panther. The word panther can refer to a cougar, also known as a mountain lion or puma. It can also refer to a jaguar or a leopard.

None of those cats are found on New Zealand: Pumas and jaguars are native to the Americas, while leopards exist in Africa and parts of Asia.

Of course it’s possible someone purchased a big cat from the illegal wildlife market and the animal escaped or was let go, but those cases are rare and big cats tend to be the “toys” of the ultra-wealthy. Local authorities have ruled out the possibility of a large cat escaping from any nearby zoo or wildlife facility, according to the Herald.

World’s Smallest Kittens Born At UK Sanctuary

Just look at these little guys!

Two rusty spotted cat kittens were born just days ago at the Porfell Wildlife Park and Sanctuary in Cornwall, which announced the good news on Facebook.

“They have only recently been spotted out of their den and seem to be getting more curious each day. They both seem very healthy and have started to show a little bit of personality,” a spokesperson for the sanctuary told the Independent. “They’ve been giving our very small team a lot of joy during this all this uncertainty and put a smile on our faces each morning.”

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Mom cat keeps a close eye on her kittens. Credit: Porfell Wildlife Park and Sanctuary

Their mom (pictured above) has been so protective of her babies that staff at the sanctuary haven’t gotten close enough to determine the gender of the kittens.

Rusty spotted cats are among the smallest felids in the world: As adults they max out at between 2 and 3.5 pounds, with a body between 14 and 19 inches. That’s about a third the size of a typical domestic cat.

Along with black-footed cats, who are about the same size, they’re the tiniest of the entire feline family.

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One of the kittens ventures beyond the den to explore. Credit: Porfell Wildlife Park and Sanctuary

Rusty spotted cats range in parts of India and Sri Lanka, but like so many other wild animals, they’re threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation. They’re famously elusive, difficult to photograph or film in the wild, and the Porfell sanctuary says there are only about 50 of them in captivity around the world. The sanctuary is a participant in a breeding program to help conserve the species.

Like so many other sanctuaries and wildlife refuges, Porfell is hurting due to the SARS-CoV2 outbreak. You can support their efforts via GoFundMe.

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