JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – What a pity that a rare Asiatic golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) was injured when it got tangled up for two days in a wild boar trap in Kamang Mudiak Village in Agam Regency, West Sumatera.
Classified as near threatened by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the golden cat lives on grasslands, forests, and farms. Its population has dropped about 20 percent, and nearly 30 percent in recent years because of habitat loss and poaching activity.
The species has been documented from 12 countries in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia where they can only be found on Sumatera Island.
Villagers found the four-year-old male golden cat on June 16 in a farm.
“The rare cat was tangled up in wild boar trap on Tuesday. We have evacuated the cat already,” Head of the Bukittinggi Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA Bukittinggi) Vera Chiko told Kompas.com June 17. It was later brought to a veterinary clinic.
“The location where it was trapped was quite far from the village. We are now treating the cat at the Bukittinggi Zoo Animal Clinic,” said Chiko. “The villagers often find a golden cat on the farm.”
He said that the trap was meant to catch wild boars. When the villagers had it inspected, they found the unsuspecting golden cat, which is thought to have comparable abundances to the tiger.
Two years ago, another golden cat also surprised the villagers in Gempong Masjid, Kawai XVI Subdistrict in Aceh Province on the northern end of Sumatera. At that time, the golden cat was spotted in the garage of a resident.
Get to know more about golden cat
The golden cat, which has common coat color of golden or red-brown, can be found in tropical and subtropical regions in Southwest Asia from China, India, to Malay Peninsula, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia.
When compared to domestic cats, golden cats have different sizes and sounds. Often, people who spot the golden cats would mistake them for tiger cubs. Although it is known as a golden cat, the color of the species’ coat is quite varied from brownish-gold, black, fox red to grey.
The golden cats have white and black stripes extending from the eyes to the neck, while its lower abdomen, inner legs, and lower tail are usually white.
In a previous interview, wildlife ecologist of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Sunarto said a golden cat is considered as a forest cat. Sunarto added that the nine types of forest cats include tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, and golden cat.
The size of golden cats is slightly smaller than a clouded leopard but larger than a domestic cat. "It is about 60-80 centimeters in size," said Sunarto.
He said golden cats are adept climbers and hunters. If their presence is disturbed, the cat will likely attack. Globally its status is near threatened, except in Indonesia. In some cases, some animals are globally safe but in Indonesia, their status is otherwise.
“Honestly, we don’t have detailed data on golden cats in Indonesia,” Sunarto said.
The golden cat, whose habitat is in the forests and plateaus, remains threatened, he said. Their population is threatened by deforestation and hunting.
He said that the golden cat is different from the cat that can live on palm oil plantation. Golden cats live on grassland, forests, and farms. If forests are cleared and turned into palm oil plantations, the golden cat’s original habitat is also threatened.
“We have never heard that golden cat can live on palm oil plantations. We are concerned about this,” he said.
Elsewhere, Data Analyst from East Java BKSDA Agus Irwanto said that it is forbidden to capture, preserve, or trade in golden cats. Failure to adhere to the rules will result in five years jail time and a fine of 100 million rupiahs ($7,055), according to Law No. 5/1990 on Conservation of Natural Resources and the Ecosystems.
Back into the wild
The golden cat tangled up in wild boar trap in Kamang Mudiak Village will soon be released back into the wild, said Head of West Sumatera BKSDA Erly Sukrismanto.
“The golden cat’s condition has improved. The wound is starting to heal,” said Erly, adding that once it is ready, the golden cat will be released back into the wild.
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