Above photo: published under Wikimedia® creative commons license license = Attribution-ShareAlike License. Author is 岐部 博 (Hiroshi Kibe) ja:User::ｋａｔｕｕｙａ. This is a stuffed cat at the Japan National Science Museum, Tokyo, Japan.
This wild cat's habitat is a relatively small island south of the Japanese mainland:
View Larger Map
So how endangered is this wildcat, the size of a domestic cat? According to the Red List (IUCN) this is the position:
CR stands for Critically Endangered (CR), facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. Why?
The island habitat would seem ideal. The habitat is subtropical rain forest. Iriomote is the largest of the Yaeyama Islands at 289 square kilometres. How big is that? At nearly 300 square kms, if the island were square it would be about 17 kms by 17 kms. Small, yes, but there are less than 100 Iriomote wildcats on the island. Can a population that small successfully breed without inbreeding and failing health?
It would seem that the reason for the dwindling population of this wild cat is not clear. Except to say this. The meat of this cat is considered a "delicacy" on the island. Got an idea where this cat is going? But the inhabitants of the islands (a small 2,000 at a maximum) are proud of this cat. Perhaps not everyone is equally proud.
Some people say that the traffic kills some of the cats. Yet there are few roads and no doubt few vehicles. The truth is we simply don't care enough to preserve some (perhaps any) wild animals. The Iriomote wildcat preys on small animals. There is a question mark as to whether this cat species is a separate species of cat or as a subspecies of the leopard cat. The cat is known as the mountain cat to some of the islanders.
Iriomote wildcat to Home Page