Russian blue cat stuffed animal
The Russian blue cat (Panthera sp. catalinae) is a subspecies of the leopard cat. It is found in a small area in South Africa and the adjacent Namib Desert. The population has been severely reduced by a combination of trophy hunting, habitat loss, and introduced predators such as dogs and jackals. The population is now threatened by climate change and desertification.
The first recorded sighting of the subspecies in its current range was in 1909 when a young man named George L. Stuhler encountered a small group of cats near the OmdalMountns in the Cape Province. Shortly afterward, he reported the incident to J.W.S. Dunkin, a professor at the University of Cape Town.
In 1914, the species was rediscovered in the Karoo. In the summer of that year, the first confirmed sightings of the subspecies were recorded in the Swartberg Mountns. The sighting was made by two young men, G.J.G. de Vries and J.J. Vermaak, who were on a hunting trip with their father and grandfather.
Panthera sp. catalinae was first described by Adolf Schwartz in 1918 from specimens collected by J.W.S. Dunkin in 1909 and 1910. The specimens were the remns of an animal that had been killed by a vehicle on the OmdalPass in the Karoo region. Schwartz named it for its location and the type specimen was an adult female, which he referred to as the "OmdalMountn cat". In 1926, Schwartz described a male subspecies named the Kalahari leopard cat. In the same publication, Schwartz described a second subspecies, the Karoo cat, which was subsequently synonymized with the Kalahari leopard cat.
In 1929, Frederick Selous, an English naturalist and hunter, reported that leopard cats had been observed in the Kalahari. In his book The Lion, The Leopard and The Kid, he described them as follows:
The panthera catalinae is about the size of a large domestic cat with a total length ranging from. The head and body are slightly darker than the tl, which is tawny or pale fawn. The upper body is mostly covered with long black hr that is arranged in rosettes and tufts of hr. The back is marked with narrow, pale, irregular stripes that extend to the sides. The legs are covered with dark hr and the tl is long, tapering from a broad base to a long tip. The coat is thick and provides good protection from the cold in summer. The species has a short, bushy tl with a tip that is black with white rings. The face and ears are covered with hr, but have large patches of black fur. The forehead is marked with a short, distinct white stripe. The species has large, dark-rimmed, round, and almond-shaped eyes with yellow irises.
The panthera catalinae is generally regarded as diurnal, with nocturnal and arboreal subspecies. The population is usually found in groups of up to 15 animals. There are no known natural predators. The species is normally found in open grasslands, although some individuals have been found in areas with scrub bush and small trees. The subspecies is largely herbivorous, feeding on various plants. Like other small cats, it feeds on insects, small mammals, snakes, and birds. Its diet consists mostly of insects such as beetles, moths, flies, grasshoppers, and ants. It also eats mice, snakes, birds, and lizards. It sometimes hunts and kills wild goats. It has been known to capture frogs and frogs eggs.
The panthera catalinae is found in a small area in South Africa and adjacent Namib Desert. It has been recorded in the Karoo from the Namaqualand in the northwest to the Swartberg Mountns in the southwest. The only records of the species outside the current range are from the Namib and Kunene Valleys in Namibia, the Lüderitz region in Namibia, and the Hottentots Holland range in the south of the Republic of South Africa.
Population and threats
In South Africa, the panthera catalinae is a small population of about 1,000 individuals, with an estimated decline of more than 50% from its 1980 level. In the last two decades of the 20th century, the species population has decreased by almost 80% due to trophy hunting, habitat loss, and the introduction of predators such as dogs and jackals.
In addition to habitat loss and trophy hunting, the panthera catalinae population has been declining due to the increasing number of domestic cats in the area. Domestic cats can easily out-compete leopard cats, even though their densities are lower. Domestic cats are believed to have been introduced to the region about 100 years ago. Since then, they have displaced or killed leopard cats by eating the animals' prey. As cats in general are known to be the mn predator of small cats in the region, their population also seems to be increasing.
In 2008, conservation organizations introduced the African Lion Cat Initiative, a non-governmental