HDW Enterprises & Foothill Felines Bengals Present:
What About Us? (The Plight of Small Wild Cats)
Interview With Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull Fame
Ian Anderson sharing a moment with one of his
domestic Bengal Cats
All photos used here with the express written permission of Ian Anderson.
"I hope that the information here is of some stimulation to any of you who have ever cuddled a new pet kitten or simply admired one of nature's minor miracles. The little guy who shares your home is a tiny step away, genetically speaking, from the wide array of the 36 species of wild cat, big and small.
They all, to a man, are the pussies cat."
Ian Anderson, January 2001
According to Dr. Jim Sanderson, most people are only aware of the existence of roughly one third of the 37 remaining species of cats on this planet. While millions of dollars in the United States are finally being set aside and spent on much needed conservation and studies of the better known "Big Cats", such as the highly endangered Tiger, what about the lesser known, but equally important medium and small wild cats?? Dr. Sanderson estimates that currently "less that US $50,000 is spent on small cat research all over the world." This appalling and tragic fact has caught the attention, the spirit and the passion of famous musician and devoted cat lover, Ian Anderson.
Ian with the highly endangered, beautiful Ocelot Cat
Ian Anderson, Dr. Sanderson and many others understand that without intimate knowledge of the survival habits, nutrition, habitat, behavior and breeding information, understanding placement in the overall ecology of these smaller wild cats, it is virtually impossible to even begin to try to help them. The key to acquiring this knowledge is through field studies. "Field studies have never been done on African wildcats (Felis silvestris), Sand cats (Felis margarita), Pampas cats (Lynchailurus colocolo), Oncillas (Leopardus tigrinus), Margays (Leopardus weidi), Marbled cats (Pardofelis marmorata), Bornean bay cats (Catopuma badia) and many others,", states Dr. Sanderson.
Ian with an extremely friendly puma!
One of the most elusive and little known small wild cats is the Andean Mountain Cat, described by Ian this way: "In the remote and rarified world of the high Andes, where the one-legged flute-playing god of the local Indians roams and the night temperatures regularly fall below freezing, live the last of a little-known species - the surviving examples of the Andean Mountain Cat (Felis jacobita). Only recently photographed for the first time by Jim Sanderson on a field trip privately sponsored by charitable donation, this little furball on legs needs our help and probable intervention NOW if we are not lose forever one of the 36 species of wild cat on planet Earth (Planetus fragilis)." Ian has committed to a fund-raising effort on behalf of the Andean Mountain Cat, and we urge you to visit the Official Jethro Tull website to learn more about the project, and to join with Ian in this vital mission of love. Link: The Official Jethro Tull Website
A Bengal-holic himself, Ian now shares his home and estate with his wife Shona, their children, and an assortment of furry family members, which currently include 4 Bengal Cats!! His love and concern for the small wild cats of the world is something he very much wishes to share with others. "Getting appreciation of the plight of many of the world's small cats is essential and where better to start than to introduce awareness of these species to the millions of pet cat owners throughout the world. They can identify with the wild cousins of Tigger, Fluffy, Tom, Sylvester and the other domestic bed-warmers who share their lives. After all, that's part of the fascination of the Bengal, especially," says Ian. "The validation of the establishment of the Bengal breed must be that it might raise the consciousness of the public as to plight of the endangered species of small wild cats, particularly, the little spotty guys."
Soomi and Bhajee, two of Ian's Bengal Cats at home
Ian continues: "Most of the countries of the world have one or more species of small wild cat. By small, I mean big enough to give you a fright but probably not mean enough to bite your leg off. So, we are talking something less than the size of the Puma (Mountain Lion, Cougar, Felis Concolor) and on down to the tiny Oncilla (Felis tigrina) weighing a mere 4 - 6 pounds. Smallest of all is the delightful Rusty Spotted Cat (Felis rubiginosa) which, at just over two pounds, is half the size of a typical domestic cat. Many of these are endangered and a few to the point of near-extinction. These little guys are in need of first, recognition on a larger scale and second, some funding to provide research and last-resort breeding facilities, both in captive circumstances and in the wild through acquisition and management of conservation reserves."
Ian with the medium sized spotted Bobcat
"Because the small cats are nocturnal, shy and secretive, they do not make good commercial sense as Zoo exhibits in the ever-tightening economy of the modern zoo. Most zoos have now abandoned breeding programmes for the small cats and the future of some of the species is in the hands of independent privately funded captive breeders, most of whom are scientifically sound and with great dedication and experience," warns Ian. "The Margay, the Ocelot, Geoffroy's Cat, Pallas' Cat, the Marbled Cat, the Fishing Cat, the Flat-headed Cat, the Rusty-spotted Cat, the Iriomote Cat, the Bornean Bay Cat, the Jaguarundi, and the Kodkod are some of the threatened species of small wild cat which need our help. The first three have been mercilessly depleted for their fur - being trapped in their hundreds of thousands in South America - and it is hoped that international pressure will bring this ridiculous trade to an end in our lifetimes, if not in the lifetimes of the little guys themselves."
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