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A native wild cat

The Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) is a native wild cat under the Felidae family, and they are not so easy to see.

Your best chance is to get up to Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG), where they have two resident Leopard Cats on display at the Native Mammal House.

The Kadoorie website says "The Live Education Display team takes care of all long term captive display animals and makes sure to develop enclosures that are appropriate for animals to carry out natural behaviours in a setting that is as close to their natural habitat as possible in captivity.

Diet: Leopard Cats are carnivores. In the wild, they hunt for frogs, lizards, birds and small mammals. In captivity, we provide them with a large range of food choices, making sure to include dead whole prey items such as small rodents and chicks, as well as chicken, beef and fish.

Enclosure Design: The enclosure is designed to keep the cats healthy, both physically and mentally. There is an indoor shelter, natural hiding areas, a large pool and climbing structures".

The pictures here were taken through the glass, into the enclosure, and a more typical shot is shown below....fuzzy, with glass reflection.... how do I avoid this, and get the sharp, natural looking image below?

Well, firstly, use a telephoto lens, as that allows you to focus just on the subject and can cut the glare (or blur bars), with the aperture wide open, like f2.8 or whatever your lens can do. I use a tripod, as there is not much light, so I cannot handhold the camera, and I push the ISO, in this case to over 1200. The grain is not noticeable on such a small picture, and I make sure i slightly overexpose the photo, as there is more information and detail stored in the that range of the image. A great way to reduce glass refections is to use a polariser lens, and then apply some contrast and dehaze in post production. I hope that all helps, but as my friend said :" thats too technical for me" ... but he still takes a great shot!

Being nocturnal animals, the cats are more active at night than during the day, and getting a good picture of one in the wild is very difficult. I have seen a few on my walks, their eyes blazing in the trees before ... poof... they are gone. They are extremely agile and have no problems getting up and down trees and branches.

The animals pictured here are around 6 years old, two sister leopard cats. Chomel and Manis.

Also from the KADOORIE WEB SITE:

Illegal fur and pet trade

Although the wild population of Leopard Cats is considered to be quite healthy in the region, Leopard Cat pelts are commercially traded and used in the fashion industry (average 200,000 per year in the late 1980s) (Nowell and Jackson 1996). Wild Leopard Cats are sometimes kept as pets despite this being illegal. Breeders keep these animals in captivity to interbreed with domestic cats to produce hybrid offspring called Bengal Cats for the pet trade. The Leopard Cat is listed as CITES Appendix I in Bangladesh, India and Thailand and Appendix II in other countries. In Hong Kong, it is protected under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance Cap 170.

What can you do to help protect Leopard Cats?

Do not support the illegal trade and do not buy Leopard Cat fur or keep Leopard Cats as pets. Help by reporting suspected illegal wildlife trade activities to AFCD at (852) 2150 6978 or KFBG hotline at (852) 2483 7200. Help to keep the populations of this fascinating animal healthy in the wild".

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