Chinese Mountain Cat (Felis bieti) – observations and findings from the first active den ever discovered

Back in 2018 I reported on the discovery by ShanShui Conservation Center of an active den of the Chinese Mountain Cat (Felis bieti) on the Tibetan Plateau.  This felid, endemic to China, is one of the most poorly known in the world.  Based on fieldwork over the following months and with the help of infra-red cameras, researchers captured hours of footage of a mother and her two young kittens.  In total, five breeding dens were discovered, and 33 sightings were recorded.  

Now, after painstaking analysis of the footage (more than 7,500 images and 3,000 video clips), much previously unknown information concerning this cat species and its ecology has been revealed and the findings have been published in an article in Zoological Research and can be read and downloaded in PDF format here.

With the kind permission of Han Xuesong, the lead author, I am including below a short video compilation of the mother and kittens that were studied in autumn and winter 2018.  It includes the cats emerging from a den, playing, the mother bringing back food and interactions with two potential threats – an Upland Buzzard and a Tibetan Fox.

With a limited distribution on the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau, Chinese Mountain Cat is among the most elusive and vulnerable of the world’s cats and this data will be vital to help better understand, and therefore protect, this beautiful cat.

Big congratulations to Han Xuesong and the ShanShui team, especially the local rangers, Jihti, Tserdo, and Lulu, for their discovery and the subsequent publication of this article.

Title image: Chinese Mountain Cat (Felis bieti) on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (ShanShui Conservation Center)