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Iriomote Cat

Iriomote Cat

Scientific name: Prionailurus bengalensis iriomotensis

The Iriomote cat is a subspecies of the leopard cat living exclusively on the Japanese island of Iriomote. It has been classified as Critically Endangered by IUCN since 2008, as the population size is fewer than 250, is declining, and consists of a single sub population. As of 2007, there are an estimated 100–109 individuals remaining.

Iriomote cats are terrestrial, but climb trees, go into the water and also swim.

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Iriomote cat sighting

It was next to the road..and it was just a coincidence!! One of the most endangered wild cat species on Earth!! Around 100 individuals are thought to exist on the 284 km2 Iriomote Island. Me and my mates observed it capturing one of its favorite prey items: frogs!! Sometimes it is attracted to the road because of prey. Other times it increases its movement (even along the road) because it is in search of females (males are more frequently hit by cars than females) or of a home range.

This individual seemed to be a dispersing young male due to its small size and the period of the year.
Unfortunately, every year, Iriomote cats are victims to roadkills (this year with a record of deaths!!) so if you happen to be on Iriomote Island please drive slowly! Car accidents as well as habitat destruction are considered to be the biggest threats to its survival.

It was just a flash but it seemed like an hour!! And.. I am very happy I was driving so slowly!! 😉