Seven cat species captured on camera in Indian rain forest

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Washington, March 13 (ANI): A photographer have captured on camera seven cat species in Jeypore-Dehing lowland rain forest in the northeast Indian state of Assam.

According to a report in National Geographic News, wildlife biologist Kashmira Kakati took the pictures during a two-year survey by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

The research found seven cat species in a 354-square-mile (570-square-kilometer) range, which is the highest diversity of cat species yet photographed in a single area.

Partly funded by WCS, Kashmira Kakati had been studying the gibbons of Jeypore-Dehing and became curious about the predator tracks she kept finding on the ground.

"I said, I need to find out what's there," Kakati told National Geographic News. "Nobody had any clue. People who had been in the forest 30 years didn't know," she said.

With 30 digital camera traps, Kakati captured not only the cats, but a number of other rare forest animals between 2007 and 2009.

The camera-trap pictures include a night shot of a rare clouded leopard, so named for the nimbus-like pattern of its coat.

"In Jeypore-Dehing, the cat is so seldom seen that local villagers don't even have a name for it," Kakati said.

Seen in another Jeypore-Dehing camera-trap picture, the leopard cat is a diminutive and distant relative of the better-known spotted predator from which it takes its name.

Leopard cats are considered to have generally stable populations, except for a few subspecies that are close to extinction.

The Jeypore-Dehing rain forest also houses the Asiatic golden cat, which is listed as near threatened-but on the verge of becoming vulnerable-by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

In addition to the seven cat species, Kakati's camera traps recorded 12 other carnivore species in the Jeypore-Dehing range, including a dhole, or Asiatic wild dog; the Malayan sun bear; and several species of the catlike mammal - the civet.

The researchers hope the discovery of so many rare cat species in Jeypore-Dehing, including the threatened marbled cat, will encourage the Indian government to protect a wider portion of the Eastern Himalaya region from development and poaching. (ANI)

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