Small Cats, Small Funds

Everyone knows that lions are kings of the jungle and cheetahs are the fastest animals on earth. These famous big cats, along with their five other fellow big cat species, receive the lion’s share of funding for cat conservation. The 22 known small cat species around the world received only .78 percent of funding since 2007.

Dr. Jim Sanderson of the Small Cat Conservation Alliance is leading the way to increase funding for small cats. He recently told Earth Island Journal that the first step is simply to increase awareness. “It’s the little things that are slipping away under the radar, and it’s all about awareness.”

Jim also explains that threats to small cats mostly come from habitat loss caused by timber harvesting, palm oil plantations, mining and industrial ship ponds. “In Borneo there’s lots of illegal gold mining and river disturbance,” Sanderson told Earth Island Journal. “You have these dredges that are diesel-powered churning up the river bottom looking for gold. The river goes down brown. It’s destroyed. That takes away habitat from the fishing cat and the flat-headed cat.”

People can help small cats by contributing to funding or simply by reading food labels. Products with palm oil contribute to habitat destruction and industrial shrimp raised in Thailand takes away fishing cat habitat.

Jim hopes that small cats don’t have to reach crisis level to get recognized and get helped. “I hope we don’t have a crisis to mobilize funding,” he said. “We want to keep moving in the right direction.”