For a country that is roughly a quarter of the size of Texas, Cambodia is home to an impressively high number of wild cat species. Seven types of cats call Cambodia home, including the leopard, clouded leopard, Asiatic golden cat, marbled cat, leopard cat, jungle cat and fishing cat. On International Cat Day, July 8th, we celebrated all these species. In Cambodia, cats face two major threats: habitat loss and poaching. Many of Southeast Asia’s cat species are dependent on the forest and cannot survive in degraded or small habitats, making them highly sensitive to habitat loss.
When an Asiatic golden cat was caught on one of Wildlife Alliance’s camera traps, it was exciting news for both Wildlife Alliance and the species. Although these cats are currently listed as near threatened, their populations are quickly declining. Estimates suggest that their populations are declining at rates as high as 20%-30% in recent years. Because of this, Asiatic golden cats will soon qualify for a vulnerable status. Southeast Asia has some of the highest deforestation rates in the world, which is detrimental to these forest dependent cats. It is also believed that Asiatic golden cats are being targeted by poachers more frequently and are now even being sold as substitutes for tiger pelt and bones. In 2014, Wildlife Alliance confiscated two golden cat skins that were destined for the international market. Wildlife Alliance’s Southern Cardamom Forest Protection Program ensures that 2 million acres of critical cat habitat remains intact and safe. The tireless efforts of our forest rangers allow these animals to continue to thrive in the wild, where they belong.