This is a heart-rending photograph of a mother Asiatic leopard cat and her cub lying next to each other on the roadside having been hit together by a vehicle. It is believed that the mother had her kitten in her mouth when she hit as she was carrying her kitten to a new den site.
The Asiatic leopard cat is the wild cat ancestor of the famous Bengal cat. They are endangered1 in Taiwan and only 1,000 remain in the wild in that country it is believed. World-wide roadkill has a distinct negative impact on wildlife conservation.
The cat was trying to navigate across a motorway. There was little chance of success. They never do it, but authorities should be aware of wild species ‘highways’ when building highways for humans.
Many species have their own routes often developed over many years. If motorways are built which cut across these routes you get a high level of roadkill of that particular species at that particular location. A classic example is the way roads intersect Florida causing many Florida panther deaths on the roads.
“Vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for panthers.” – National Geographic
In one study of a 2-mile stretch of Highway 44 through Payne’s Prairie State Park in Florida the following roadkills were found: 1,291 snakes, 1,333 frogs, 374 turtles, 265 birds, 72 mammals, 29 alligators, 1 lizard.
The numbers may surprise people. In Taiwan there have been 77 Asiatic leopard cat road kills between Nov 2011 and June 2019. Fifty-six occurred in one place: Miaoli County. Perhaps this is where the leopard cat has it’s routes.
Looking at America the University of Washington tells us that 5.5 million reptiles are roadkilled in Australia annually, 65,451 deer on Michigan’s roads in 1997, 102 black bears in North Carolina in 2002.
Roadkill is just another example of how humans are pushing wildlife off the planet. There is less and less space for wild species free of human intervention and therefore danger.
1. IUCN RED LIST CATEGORY AND CRITERIA: Least Concern