Principal Threats
The leopard cat appears to be more tolerant of deforestation and habitat alteration than other Asian felids, with the exception of the jungle cat. However, it is not invulnerable, as attested to by population declines on small islands (Izawa et al. 1991). Captive breeding programmes are being developed for the populations on Tsushima (Japan: T. Doi in litt. 1993) and Negros islands (Philippines: E. Alcala pers. comm.).

In China, the center of its range, commercial exploitation has been heavy, especially in the south-west (Yu Jinping in litt. 1993). Exports from China jumped in 1984, averaging roughly 200,000 skins annually through 1989 (WCMC, unpubl. data). The actual harvest is much higher: a 1989 survey of major Chinese fur companies revealed estimated stockpiles of over 800,000 pelts (Yu and Wozencraft in press). While harvests of leopard cat have been high in the past, averaging 150,000 annually from 1955-1981 (Lu and Sheng 1986), the annual take from 1985-1988 is believed to be of the order of 400,000 (Yu Jinping in litt. 1991). The European Community, formerly the primary destination for leopard cat pelts exported from China, imposed an import ban in 1988, and Japan has since become the main consumer, at a lower level, importing 50,000 skins in 1989 (Johnson and Fuller 1992). There is also a substantial domestic market (Johnson et al. 1993a). Concern over the situation in China has since grown within CITES, and a project to investigate the status of the species and to advise the Chinese government on the design of a sustainable management program is underway (Johnson and Fuller 1992, Johnson et al. 1993).

Leopard cats can hybridize with domestic cats, as is shown by the popular domestic breed, the "safari cat". Hybridization in the wild has been reported (Heptner and Sludskii 1972).

© 1996 IUCN - The World Conservation Union

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