Survival of a native mammalian carnivore, the leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis Kerr, 1792 (Carnivora: Felidae), in an agricultural landscape on an oceanic Philippine island

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M.R.P. Lorica
L.R. Heaney

Abstract

Concerns about vulnerability of mammalian carnivores to extinction, especially on small islands, appear to conflict with prior reports of endemic populations of leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis (Kerr, 1792) surviving in agricultural landscapes on oceanic islands. We investigated the persistence of the Visayan leopard cat (P. b. rabori) in the sugarcane fields on Negros, an oceanic island in central Philippines. A population remained throughout the year at our study site on a sugarcane farm, and reproduction was noted. Non-native rodents form the bulk of the cat diet, followed by reptiles, birds, amphibians, and insects. Prey species identified from the samples commonly occur in agricultural areas in the Philippines. Prey composition did not vary significantly with respect to wet and dry season, or sugarcane harvest cycle. This study provides evidence that an intensively managed agricultural landscape on this oceanic island supports a native obligate carnivore that subsists primarily on exotic rats. This study supports a prior prediction that leopard cats will show flexibility in prey selection on islands with few or no native small mammal prey species, but in this case they do so not by switching to other vertebrates and invertebrates, but rather to exotic pest species of rodents.

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[1]
Lorica, M. and Heaney, L. 2013. Survival of a native mammalian carnivore, the leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis Kerr, 1792 (Carnivora: Felidae), in an agricultural landscape on an oceanic Philippine island. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 5, 10 (Jun. 2013), 4451–4460. DOI:https://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o3352.4451-60.
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