COA touts effectiveness of leopard cat patrols

Members of a temple in Nantou County helped relocate two of the endangered cats found near chicken coops, the Agriculture Bureau said

Nine civilian patrols have been set up in Nantou County to protect Taiwan’s endangered leopard cat population, the COA said in a statement yesterday.

The patrols are part of a pilot program launched by the Endemic Species Research Institute in 2019 that provides government grants to residents in Nantou and Miaoli counties to help protect local small wildcat populations.

There are around 300 to 500 leopard cats nationwide, the council said.

Photo provided by the Endemic Species Research Institute via CNA

The patrols work with local authorities on a range of conservation measures, such as reporting illegal traps, installing automatic cameras, securing poultry pens, and helping catch and release leopard cats found on local farms.

Annual grants for civil defense efforts range from NT $ 60,000 to NT $ 100,000, the council said.

Nine patrols were set up in Nantou’s Jhongliao (中寮) Township, and one of them, carried out by members of Yongsheng Temple (永盛 宮) in Yongping Village (永平), helped relocate two leopard cats in January.

Experts from the institute trapped the two cats near chicken coops in the area and found they are in good health, the council said.

The two – called Yong-ge (永 哥) and Sheng-ge (盛 哥) by patrol members – weighed 4.9 kg and 4.6 kg, respectively, and were equipped with pursuit collars as part of the protection effort.

Yong-ge was released back into the wild by the institute on February 3, and Sheng-ge was released on February 24 by Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) while visiting the area to gather feedback on the program said the council.

Members of the patrol have helped the owners of the chicken coops put in protective fences and reinforce the fences in the coop where Sheng-ge was discovered again on Sunday last week.

The program has helped raise awareness of leopard cat conservation and can serve as a model for government to work with local communities, the council said.

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