Iriomote Cat Research Papers

Home » Prionailurus bengalensis ssp. iriomotensis (Iriomote Cat)

Taxonomy [top]


Scientific Name:Prionailurus bengalensis ssp. iriomotensis Imaizumi, 1967
Parent Species:
Common Name(s):
EnglishIriomote Cat
FrenchChat D'Irimote
SpanishGato d'Irimote
Mayailurus iriomotensis Imaizumi, 1967
Prionailurus iriomotensis (Imaizumi, 1967)
Taxonomic Notes:Originally described as a distinct species based on morphology (Imaizumi 1967), based on genetic analysis the Iriomote Cat is considered a subspecies of Leopard Cat (Masuda and Yoshida 1995, Johnson et al. 1999).  Taxonomy is currently under review by the IUCN SSC Cat Specialist Group.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered C2a(ii) ver 3.1
Year Published:2015
Date Assessed:2014-04-20
Assessor(s):Izawa, M. & Doi, T.
Reviewer(s):Nowell, K., Hunter, L., Duckworth, J.W., Breitenmoser-Wursten, C. & Lanz, T. and Breitenmoser, U.
Contributor(s):Okamaura, M., Nakanishi, N. & Endo, Y.
This subspecies is found only on the small (284 km2) Japanese island of Iriomote, which consists predominantly of low mountains (300-460 m asl) with sub-tropical evergreen forest, including extensive belts of mangrove along the waterways. Iriomote Cat is distributed all over the island except for village area (Nakanishi and Izawa 2014, Department of Environmental Affairs of Okinawa prefectural government and University of the Ryukyus 2014). Iriomote Cats also occur in lower elevations, a mosaic of wetland, streams and small hills, which are also where the human settlements are (Izawa et al. 2009). Home range sizes have ranged from one to 10 km2 (Nakanishi and Izawa 2009). The population of resident individuals of Iriomote Cat was estimated at around 100 and was not thought to drastically decrease since monitoring began in 1982 (Izawa et al. 2009). However, University of the Ryukyus (2008) showed that the situation is different between mountainous areas and coastal areas. The forest in mountainous areas is well-reserved and the population is stable. However, the population is declining in coastal areas and the estimated level of decrease is about 9% in coastal area during 10 years (University of the Ryukyus 2008). The main threats are the accelerated rates of lowland habitat loss from agricultural development and road re-construction, and the drastic increase in traffic accidents in recent years. This species is listed as Endangered on Japan's 2012 national Red List. Concern over a decreasing population trend warrants listing of the Iriomote Cat on the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered, as the population size is fewer than 250 mature individuals (100-100 individuals in 2008), and the population is declining and consists of a single subpopulation.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This subspecies is found only on the small (284 km2) southern Japanese island of Iriomote.
Countries occurrence:
Japan (Nansei-shoto)
Additional data:
Number of Locations:1
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The population was estimated at around 100 (100-110) individuals in 2008. While the population was considered stable since monitoring began in 1982 (Izawa et al. 2009), researchers now think the population is declining in the lower coastal area due to the accelerated rates of lowland habitat loss and increase of traffic accidents over the past decade (Izawa et al. 2009, Saitoh et al. 2015).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Population severely fragmented:No
All individuals in one subpopulation:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Iriomote consists predominantly of low mountains (300-460 m asl) with sub-tropical evergreen forest, including extensive belts of mangrove along the waterways. However, studies have shown Iriomote Cats live not only in mountainous areas but also in lower elevations with high density, a mosaic of wetland, streams and small hills, which are also where the human settlements are (Izawa et al. 2002, Izawa et al. 2009, Saitoh et al. 2015).

Mating season ranges from February to May (Okamura et al. 2000). The kittens are born from April to July and become independent from the mother between August and December (Okamura et al. 2000). The litter size is recorded as two. The maximum life span is recorded as 13 years for a female in the wild (Nakanishi et al. 2009).

It feeds on a variety of animals including crustaceans, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals (Watanabe et al. 2003).

Home range size is 4.47 ± 2.24 km2 (range 1.26–9.65) for males and 2.80 ± 1.08 km2 (1.17–5.00) for females (Nakananishi and Izawa 2009). Females have stable home ranges and males maintain relatively exclusive home ranges among their own sex. Male home ranges overlap with those of one or two females. Some males are roaming without fixed ranges as transients (Schmidt et al. 2003, Nakanishi et al. 2005).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There is no use or trade information for this subspecies.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Habitat loss and traffic accidents have been the largest threats. Some other threats are negative effects of invasive animals: predation by dogs, competition with feral cats, and the possible infection of disease from domestic cats (Izawa et al. 2009, Saitoh et al. 2015). Recent and future threats for the Iriomote Cat will be human disturbance by tourism including the further increase of road kills and tourism activity in mountainous areas which have been undisturbed so far (Izawa et al. 2009, Saitoh et al. 2015).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is listed on CITES Appendix II (as Prionailurus iriomotensis). It is listed as Endangered on Japan's 2012 national Red List. The Iriomote Cat is protected by law as a Special Natural Monument (1977) and as a National Endangered Species (1994) in Japan. The large area of inner mountainous forests on Iriomote is protected and managed as the National Forest and National Park by the Government of Japan. Nature reserves, national parks and reserved national forest play a part of role to protect the habitat of this cat. The Iriomote Wildlife Conservation Center of the Ministry of Environment and the Forestry Agency, the local government, some NGOs and researchers are concerned with the conservation of this subspecies. The are currently focussing on the threat of traffic accidents to this subspecies.

Errata [top]

Errata reason: The reference Izawa et al. (2002) cited in the Range text cannot be traced and was therefore deleted.
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