Scientists try to identify species found on Red River alluvial soil
VietNamNet Bridge - Experts believe the wild animals seen on the Red River alluvial soil are rare wildcats, though they still cannot identify the species.

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Bao meo (Prionailurus) that appear on the middle alluvial grounds of the Red River are often caught and sold to wildlife specialty restaurants.


Scientists have called for thorough research on the wild animals to figure out a plan to protect them from hunters.

Tran Quang Phuong is a forest ranger of the Cuc Phuong National Park in Ninh Binh province, who is managing the carnivore and pangolin conservation program.

Phuong, after seeing photos of the animals, affirmed these are a kind of wildcat. 

Bao meo (Prionailurus) that appear on the middle alluvial grounds of the Red River are often caught and sold to wildlife specialty restaurants.
Phuong said Van Khe people called the wild animals ‘bao meo’ because they looked like a panther and cat, while the word cannot be found in a dictionary. ‘Bao meo’ might be the scientific name Prionailurus.

Wildcats lay two or three broods a year, with 3-5 cubs for each brood. As such, Phuong estimates that there might be dozens of wild cats now living on the alluvial soils, noting that they first appeared there in 1994.

Wildcats can be found in most forests in Vietnam. However, as they have been hunted everywhere, they are listed as rare animals, the hunting and trade of which are prohibited.

According to Phuong, a wildcat weighs 3-4 kilos at maximum. It is as big as a home cat and looks like home cat. It mostly eats mice.

However, Van Khe locals affirmed that the animals they saw on the Red River alluvial soil were as big as a dog, much bigger than a home cat.

Meanwhile, Phuong said that he had never heard of any wildcat weighing 8-9 kilos.

Some experts think the animals seen on the alluvial soils could be meo ca (Prionailurus viverrinus). The animal, in its adulthood, can weigh 12-15 kilos. It likes living near rivers and water sources and has characteristics similar to what Van Khe’s people have described.

“At first I thought it was a cat. But later I thought it looked more like a small panther,” a man said.

It would be breaking news if the wild animals on the Red River alluvial soil are Prionailurus viverrinus, because the species is listed as endangered. 

Scientists believe that meo ca have become very rare which can be seen only in U Minh forest and flooded forests in the south. There have been no reports about the existence of meo ca in the north.


VTC

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