Biodiv Sci ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (9): 22089.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2022089

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Camera-trapping study of marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata) in Tengchong area of Mt. Gaoligongshan, Yunnan

Fei Li1, Xiangyuan Huang2, Xingchao Zhang2, Tsz Kin Au1, Bosco Pui Lok Chan1,*()   

  1. 1. Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, Hong Kong 999077
    2. Yunnan Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve (Tengchong Bureau), Tengchong, Yunnan 679100
  • Received:2022-02-25 Accepted:2022-05-30 Online:2022-09-20 Published:2022-07-31
  • Contact: Bosco Pui Lok Chan


Background & Aim: The marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata) has a highly restricted distribution range in China and is rarely recorded, and very little is known about this elusive wild felid. There has been no published work to analyze the spatial distribution and daily activity pattern of the species in China, which will enhance our understanding of this nationally endangered and protected species, and provide scientific information for conservation management.
Methods: Gaoligongshan is located in the western part of Yunnan Province bordering Myanmar, extending from the Tibetan Plateau to Indochina. We conducted camera-trap survey at 34 camera-trap stations in the Tengchong Section of Yunnan Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve and its surroundings between April 2014 and May 2021. We analyzed the spatial distribution of marbled cat in Tengchong Gaoligongshan based on the data acquired. Daily activity patterns of marbled cat and the sympatric and similarly sized leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) were also analyzed using kernel-density estimation.
Results: During the study period, a total of 230 independent records of marbled cat were obtained in 31,462 camera trap nights, with an encounter rate many-folded higher compared with data from tropical regions. Our study yielded significantly higher encounter rate of marbled cat in the northern portion of Tengchong (i.e. north of 25°30' N), and the species mainly occurred at well preserved evergreen broad-leave forest at 2,300‒3,100 m. Daily activity pattern analysis reveals that marbled cat was mainly diurnal and has bimodal activity peaks at 6:00‒11:00 and 14:00‒19:00, respectively. The sympatric leopard cat was predominantly nocturnal in the northern portion of Tengchong while it tended to be more crepuscular in the southern portion where marbled cat was rare.
Recommendations: The existence of a stable population of marbled cat in Tengchong Gaoligongshan provides a golden opportunity to enhance our understanding on different aspects of this elusive species, for the benefit of its conservation management. A study using spatially explicit capture-recapture modelling derived from camera-trapping data to estimate its population density would be desirable, and further study should focus on habitat selection, diet and relationships with other sympatric carnivorous species.

Key words: China, small felid, Carnivora, activity pattern, camera trap, conservation