Wild driving kills a Leopard cat

A female adult Leopard cat was found crushed on the expressway opposite to Samazingkha in Thimphu on June 21.
The dead felid with its jaws crushed and major injuries on its head was first spotted by a Thimphu divisional forestry staff on the expressway when he went jogging early in the morning.
“When I reached the spot at 6 AM, the Leopard cat was already dead,” said Phub Tshering of the Forest Protection and Surveillance Unit (FPSU).
Based on the big wheel tracks on the spot, officials believe the animal might have been killed by a truck. With the leopard cat just about the size of a domestic cat, officials say that the driver might have mistaken it for a common house cat.
“In Bhutanese superstition a cat crossing your way is bad omen to the commuter,” Chief Forestry Officer (CFO), Sonam Wangchuk said. “In order to avoid the cat, the driver might have killed it.”
Road killing is a major threat in developed countries where animals are run-down by speeding vehicles. “It is increasingly becoming a trend in Bhutan too,” said the CFO.
The forest officials said it is likely that the wild cat was killed at night since it is a nocturnal animal and was probably on the lookout for prey which consists of small mammals, birds and poultry.
The leopard cat shares similarities with the household cat except that it has longer legs. It has spots and marks on the body and looks like a miniature leopard.
. The leopard cat is one of the most adaptable cats which lives in the tropical rain forests and temperate broadleaf and coniferous forests.
The cat often lives close to human settlements.
Habitat fragmentation, poaching and retaliatory killing by farmers are major threats to the cat globally. In Bhutan, it enjoys a relatively undisturbed habitat.
Meanwhile, a Civet (small nocturnal animal) a rare species was also run-over on the national highway at Lumitsawa under Punakha dzongkhag on June 11.
The Forest and Nature Conservation Rules, 2006 is silent in such cases. While the affected can either kill or drive away wild animals causing crop depredation, it is restricted to only those not included in the Schedule I. Those listed in the Schedule I, are the wild animals critically endangered and vulnerable to extinction.
The dead specimens of both the dead wild animals have been surrendered to the Wildlife Conservation Division (WCD) Thimphu who handed it over to the Taxidermy centre at Taba.

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