The IUCN Cat Specialist Group has just published its long-awaited review of Felidae taxonomy as a special 79 page issue of Cat News. I haven’t had time to read through it yet but the key points of interest are that:
- They recognise 41 species and 77 sub-species including Domestic Cat.
- Felis bieti (Chinese mountain cat) is still recognised as a full species based on ‘its restricted distribution and distinct morphology’ but it is acknowledged that further research is required.
- Felis lybica (‘African’ Wildcat) is recognised as being distinct from Felis silvestris (European Wildcat) with three sub-species being recognised lybica, cafra and ornata (the form often known as Indian desert cat).
- Oncilla is split into two species Leopardus guttulus (Southern tigrina) and L. tigrinus (Northern tigrina).
- Leopard Cat is split into two species Prionailurus bengalensis (Mainland leopard cat)from mainland Asia, Taiwan and Iriomote, and P.javanensis (Sunda leopard cat) from Java, Bali, Borneo, Sumatra, Philippines and possibly the Malay peninsula.
It also lists priorities for further taxonomic research including:
- The need to determine bieti’s relationship with lybica and sylvestris.
- Whether F. lybica is actually three species.
- Whether there is actually more than one species of Marbled cat Pardofelis marmorata.
- Whether Leopardus colocola (Pampas cat) is actually more than one species.
- Whether tigrinus is actually more than one species.
- To determine the boundary between the ranges of the two leopard cats.
The report also includes range maps showing the ranges of the recognised sub-species and also corrects errors in previously published maps most notably it does not include Sumatra in the range of Fishing cat.
From a personal viewpoint it increases my list by two but adds one additional species to the remaining ones I need.