Taiwan's Nantou County plans to promote ecotourism for endemic leopard cat

Taiwan's Nantou County plans to promote ecotourism for endemic leopard cat

TAIPEI - After successfully assisting the delivery of a pair of leopard cat twins in March, the Endemic Species Research Institute (ESRI), located in Jiji Township, Nantou County, yesterday staged a seminar on topics related to the preservation and protection of native leopard cat populations in Taiwan.

The seminar followed ten years of research by the institute on this endangered species. The twin leopard cats, a brother and sister named "Jili" and "Jibao," respectively, are reportedly in very healthy condition.

The Jiji Township Government invited local residents to attend the conservation seminar held by the ESRI and indicated its hope to turn the town, with its population of leopard cats, into an ecotourism destination in the future. The township said it hopes that after the two newborns grow up and are released into the wild, the areas surrounding Jiji Township would be a more suitable environment for the cats' survival.

ESRI official Lin Yu-hsiu said that based on records, Jiji Township has sheltered over 20 leopard cats in the past, noting that 17 of them had broken legs, with some caused by vehicle collisions.

Teng Tsung-chun, head of Yuyin Neighborhood in Jiji Township, said that 40 years ago, when people had no idea of the concept of species conservation, he heard stories of locals capturing leopard cats and cooking them for meals.

Yen Hung-ban, the head of Jiji Township, said that the township will promote the concept of species conservation among residents and work with local cultural and creative industries to develop leopard cat-themed commerical products.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) "Red List of Threatened Species" describes the global population of leopard cats as in a stable trend. The IUCN listed the species' population and conservation status as that of least concern. The leopard cat is a widespread species in Asia, found primarily in habitats in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan.

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