China – opinion/news: The current China coronavirus pandemic (not quite according to WHO) has brought to light the relationship between the leopard cat and the Chinese. The leopard cat is the wild cat part of the very popular, purebred domestic cat, the Bengal cat, which is a wildcat hybrid. It is a cute looking cat but fiercely independent. Part of their distribution is in China where they are heavily persecuted.
They are harvested for cat meat. A recent raid on a wild animal species meat trader resulted in the discovery of 2 leopard cat carcasses as well as 3 eagles, 3 pheasants, 48 racoons, 30 squirrels and 250 birds. The raid was part of the Chinese government attempts at a crack down on the sale of unregulated meat. A temporary ban is in place on wildlife meat apparently. Leopard cat meat is sold online. It is frozen. The carcasses were seized from a freezer in a facility in southeast China according to Newsweek.com. It is believed that wildlife carcasses can harbour the coronavirus and other diseases. A professor in medicine, Paul Hunter, told Newsweek that the aerosols (water droplets) in the handling of the carcasses when they are butchered spreads the virus.
The trader has been involved in this illegal trade for a long time. Clearly there are issues with law enforcement if it takes a deadly pandemic to make the government act.
The ornithologists should look to wildlife meat traders in China for bird losses judging by the large number of birds seized. It is sad to think that the leopard cat is so persecuted. In addition to leopard cat meat, hundreds of thousands of leopard cat skins per year where exported in the 1980s. The trade is much reduced nowadays but the cat is still hunted for fur, stolen for the pet business and for food as described above. It’s more of the dreaded cat meat trade only its not domestic cats but small wild cats this time.
The leopard cat is also killed as a pest because it takes poultry. Why isn’t the poultry better protected?
The Chinese government has vowed to ‘resolutely and and severely crack down’ on the illegal wildlife meat trade. It looks like the horse has bolted. The only reason why the government is cracking down on the wildlife meat business is to make the country safer for the citizens. What about stopping it for the sake of animal welfare?
Information of leopard cat threats: IUCN Red List.
SOME MORE ON THE LEOPARD CAT:
Heart-rending photograph of Asiatic leopard cat and her kitten lying next to each other, killed on road