First jungle cats seen in Thailand for 40 years

First jungle cats seen in Thailand for 40 years

This picture of a wild jungle cat was reportedly taken at the Omkoi Wildlife Sanctuary in Chiang Mai province by freelance photographer Parinya Phadungthin (photo: Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation)
This picture of a wild jungle cat was reportedly taken at the Omkoi Wildlife Sanctuary in Chiang Mai province by freelance photographer Parinya Phadungthin (photo: Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation)

A freelance photographer has taken pictures of jungle cats in the wild in a Chiang Mai forest, four decades after they were thought to be extinct in Thailand.

Thanya Netithammakun, director-general of the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, said officials at Omkoi Wildlife Sanctuary in Chiang Mai province reported that Parinya Phadungthin had taken pictures of male and female jungle cats in the sanctuary earlier this month.

"It is very exciting, delightful because we have not seen these animals in four decades. Now, this proves that jungle cats are not extinct in Thai forests," he said.

The last reported sighting of a jungle cat was by late conservationist Boonsong Lekagul in 1976. Since then there had not been a single report of a sighting or any evidence that any jungle cats were still living in Thailand, Mr Thanya said.

This welcome report showed that the Omkoi Wildlife Sanctuary was in good condition and patrols there were effective, he said. His department would start a study of the population of jungle cats there.

Saksit Simcharoen, head of academic affairs at the department, said no one had seriously studied jungle cats in Thailand, so there was not much information about the animals.

A jungle cat weighs 4-6 kilogrammes and is very agile, he said.

"I have not heard anything about jungle cats for a very long time. I understood they were extinct in Thailand. They have been seen only in forests in India," Mr Saksit said.


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