Vol 61 October 2012 

In This Issue
Photo of the Month
Shadow Cats
Volunteers Find New Data on Pallas' Cats
Quick Links
Our Website
Tweeting on Twitter
Felines on Facebook

We have another update on the continuing saga of our new website. Due to blog constrictions on the new site, we have decided to continue posting articles on our existing Felids blog. We have so many followers and visitors on that site it seemed best to continue as is. And the good news is that all of the ISEC Canada directors will now be posting on the blog (just as soon as they figure out what they're doing).


We've also decided to pay more attention to our Facebook page, and have added Lynette Shanley from ISEC Australia as a manager. She will be sharing wild cat articles she finds in her corner of the world. 


Oh, and we are setting up a new wild cat web page for kids...more on that in future issues!


Pat Bumstead, Editor


October Photo Of The Month 
leopard panthera pardus  
This adorable photo originally came across our Facebook page labelled as a Snow Leopard. One of our sharp-eyed followers immediately commented that this wasn't a Snow, and the caption was quickly changed by the original poster. Well done Sarah - the Persian Leopard in the photo probably appreciates the correction!
Shadow Cats 


It's black cat month!


Throughout history, people have been fascinated by black animals that were often perceived to be mysterious or magical because of their colouration.


In reality, this stunning coat colour is caused by an over-development of dark colored pigment in the skin, which is a condition called melanism. If either parent carries the melanistic gene, a single litter can contain both normally coloured and melanistic babies. A lack of this same pigment causes albinism, or white, animals


In the Felidae family, 11 of the 37 species have been recorded as having melanistic coats. The most well known are the black panthers, which can be either a leopard or a jaguar. Although their coats are black, you can still see their spots, as on this jaguar cub.





Coat colours and markings are important in preventing a hunting cat from being seen, and black animals blend into the shadows. Melanistic leopards and jaguars are more often recorded in humid tropical forests where closed tree canopies prohibit light from reaching the forest floor.


While stripes, spots or blotches help cats disappear in dappled light, the unmarked fur of desert animals helps them blend into the background of their desert homes. A black sand cat, for example, would stand out like a beacon in the Sahara.


Among the small wild cats, four South American species have a melanistic form. As well as the two shown below, melanistic Pampas Cats and Kodkods have been reported. 

Oncilla at SOS Care
melanistic-geoffroys cat
Geoffroy's Cat at Big Cat Rescue

In the forests of Southeast Asia, melanistic Asian Golden Cats or Jungle Cats are not uncommon.

Jungle Cat at Heidelberg Zoo

Africa also has melanistic Servals, although they are rarely seen. Servals are normally classed as cats of the marsh in grassland areas, but with a coat colour like this, the cat below must live in a higher, more thickly forested area.

Serval in Kenya by Lion Guardians

There has never been a confirmed instance of a melanistic cougar anywhere throughout their range in North or South America. These cats obviously evolved to hunt in more open areas, and their colouring matches that of the mountain slopes and rocky areas they inhabit.


Bobcats are another animal of open areas, but they can be found in every type of habitat. Their colouring of dark spots on a light background is well known, but in Florida where the vegetation in the Everglades was once impenetrable, 3 black bobcats have been reported in the last 100 years.

Bobcat by USF&W

The 11th black cat species is our beloved domestic cat, and I'm sure many of our readers have been owned by their own little black panther at some time!


Volunteers Find New Data on Pallas' Cats 

Last month, Biosphere Expeditions returned from another successful wildlife conservation project in the Altai Mountains of Asia with some very exciting findings.


Biosphere Expeditions is an international not-for-profit organisation which co-ordinates regular wildlife conservation projects where volunteers from around the globe can take part - enabling them to see parts of the world they might not otherwise be able to, while giving something back.


Their latest expedition to the Altai Mountains was primarily focused on gathering information about the endangered Snow Leopard. However, this year they made a rather significant discovery. By laying camera traps and tracking scrapes, they found that the Pallas' Cat climbs to much higher altitudes than previously thought.


This information will enable local conservation groups such as WWF Russia and Arkhar NGO to gain a better understanding of the behaviour of the local wildlife in a mountainous habitat, where many threatened or endangered species live.


The Pallas' Cat has been classified as "Near Threatened" by the IUCN since 2002, so any new information that can be compiled about them will contribute to better conservation of the species and their habitat.


The expedition to Altai sent five groups of volunteers for two weeks at a time to support Biosphere and the local conservation teams.


Source: Biosphere Expeditions


Thank you for caring about the small wild cats!

ISEC Logo ISEC Canada is a non-profit conservation group working for the smallest wild cat species. All funds raised go directly to wild cat conservation programs around the world.

Wild cats don't have nine lives, and they need all the help they can get. Become an ISEC member or make a donation today. We know it's not an easy world out there right now, but even the smallest amounts can add up.

Learn how you can participate in small wild cat conservation by visiting our website, or donate to wild cat field research projects.

International Society For Endangered Cats (ISEC Canada)
124 Lynnbrook Road SE, Calgary, AB T2C 1S6