All posts by Dr. Jim Sanderson

After a 20-year career as a top Los Alamos National Laboratory mathematician, Dr. Jim Sanderson left his job to study biology and ecology. He traveled to Chile to study an endangered cat called the guigna, and soon he was tracking elusive small cat species around the world. He has become one of the world’s foremost experts on small wild felines and founded Small Cat Conservation Alliance in 1996. Jim was the first to capture a photo of the Chinese mountain cat with a camera trap he had set on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau in China’s Sichuan Province at an altitude of 12,300 feet. Images such as this have the potential to reveal important information about endangered cats and popularize these cats as species that need protection.

29 August

Giridhar Malla will give a presentation titled The role of mangroves in safeguarding the vulnerable Fishing Cat in South India at the Mangrove Symposium of the IUCN-SSC Mangrove Specialist Grouphosted from 12 to 17 September by the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research in Bremen, Germany.

Fishing Cat in Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh, India. Photo credit: Giridhar Malla

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Fishing Cat Ponds

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Fishing Cat Rehab CenterUpdate from Dr. Sanderson:

I just returned from a visit to Sri Lanka.

Fishing Cat Rehab Center

Attached see pics of our road signs, and the rehab enclosure we built. It has two residents. We buy the materials, the land belongs to government, and the army builds it according to our drawings, at no cost to us. They also pay for half the food costs.

Fishing Cat Rehab Center

The cats love the running water as you can see. When we turned the pump on both cats ran from the box and onto the top of the waterfall.

Fishing Cat Rehab Center

One cat who had been snared, had severed the tendons in a rear leg, but still can make it to the top.

Fishing Cat Rehab Center

And he can still catch fish.

A rusty-spotted cat came in and had to have its leg amputated. We now need another $4,000.00 USD to build a similar enclosure for rusty-spotted cats. He is currently at the vet, and was destined to be sent to a terrible zoo.

Instead, Ashan Thudugala is already designing the dual enclosure. I don’t think this enclosure will need a pool or waterfall but its hard to imagine any cat in Sri Lanka avoiding water.

Next week an International film crew will be filming the fishing cats at the center.

Thanks for all your help.

Jim Sanderson, Ph.D.
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“As far as I know this is the best fishing cat enclosure in south Asia which has more space, cages, pond with live fish and a waterfall. Currently we have two fishing cats in the cage and we already released two wounded cats after treating.

But as Jim said, we plan to build a another cage for rusty spotted cats at the same place. Thank you again.

Best regards,  Ashan Thudugala

Pallas Cat Update Sept 26 2015

Sid Francis wrote:

On 13 September, Dan and Honey Jones and I sighted a Pallas’ cat south of Flower Lake in the Ruoergai Grasslands, Sichuan, China. This was my first sighting of this cat in the area for three years!!! This location is just a few hundred meters away from where I sighted the Chinese Mountain cat in autumn last year.

The Pallas’ cat was sitting on a high pile of stones at a disused quarry site. We scoped from around 300 m and watched for around 5 minutes. It was very wary, observing passing motorbikes, and finally disappeared when we got within 200 m of the site.

Thanking Fishing Cat Donors

A million thanks to all those, who supported the work of our members!


Anya & Maalu Fishing Cat Story

Anya & Maalu’s Fishing Cat Story

It was a Friday. A very boring Friday. Well, at least I think it was a Friday… Either way, it was a dull day. I was doing my usual annoy the dogs routine when I got a call.

A call about a fishing cat.

At first, the call was just boring old work stuff, and I think the topic of the cat just happened to pop up. It may have been a phone call about work, but then Maalu, being the sneaky devil that he was, quietly slipped into the conversation.

“Ade, guess what? We are looking after an orphaned fishing cat.”

“A what now?” At the time I was researching leopards, and knew very little about fishing cats.

“A fishing cat. Your uncle did a study on them 6 years ago. Come see it.”

Of course at this point the only thing that I could think of was OH MY GOODNESS I HAVE TO SEE THIS THING NOW!!! But I calmly said yup would love to, and got off the phone – I couldn’t really start squealing like a little kid who was promised a puppy, could I?

The next day I was ready. With my camera in hand, I set out to see this fishing cat. When I got to the location, which the cat called home at the time, I proceeded to tiptoe into the room, and then I saw him.

There he was sitting on the ground, with a soggy fuchsia sock in his mouth. Eyes wide. Paws tucked under. Stubby tail twitching. The only thing that could remotely explain what I thought at that point is perfectly depicted by Agnes from Despicable Me, when she sees the pink and white unicorn at the carnival. Only difference was that I couldn’t grab him and run off.

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Canada Lynx Captured on Film in CO

DENVER (AP) — Scores of fierce-looking lynx roam the remote Colorado high country, 16 years after they were reintroduced to the state. But the elusive animals are rarely seen or photographed.

Now state researchers have captured photos of lynx as they prowl the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. Using automated cameras mounted in trees, the researchers are studying where lynx live and how well they’re doing, said Eric Odell, manager of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s carnivore conservation program.

Odell estimates 200 to 300 lynx live in Colorado but no one knows for sure. He hopes to get several years’ worth of data to track their range over time.

Some key questions about lynx and the monitoring program:


Lynx are medium-size cats with delicately tufted ears, short tails and broad, kitten-like paws. They can be nearly 3 feet long and weigh as much as 30 pounds. Their big paws work like snowshoes, helping them walk across powdery snow, Odell said. They’re widespread in Canada and Alaska but scarcer in the 48 contiguous states, where they are protected as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. They primarily hunt snowshoe hares.


Colorado began reintroducing lynx in 1999 after they disappeared from the state in the 1970s because of hunting, poisoning and development. The lynx were captured in Canada and Alaska and released in the San Juan Mountains. The transplanted cats began having kittens by 2003, and Colorado-born lynx have been having kittens ever since. They mostly live in spruce and fir forests above 9,000 feet elevation.


The cameras are part of an effort to see how much of their potential habitat the lynx are occupying. Researchers randomly chose 50 plots of land, each one about 29 square miles, and began monitoring last winter. They also visit more accessible plots on snowmobiles or skis to look for lynx tracks, scat and fur.


Counting lynx is expensive and labor-intensive. Unlike some species, individual lynx aren’t distinguishable by appearance, so they have to be captured multiple times to document their status, Odell said. The study is also less invasive.


The cameras’ motion detectors trigger the shutter when animals walk into view. At night, they use an infrared flash so the lynx don’t know they’re being photographed. Crews seal the battery-powered cameras inside weather-tight cases and mount them in trees before the snow begins to fall and retrieve them after the snow melts. Odell expects to deploy 124 cameras this winter, about the same as last winter.


Researchers got some lynx photos in 2011. Last winter was the first season for the full study. Odell hopes the state will fund the study for 10 years.


The first year of the study cost about $40,000, Odell said.


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Pallas Cat Updates 2015 Sept

7 September

Arash Ghoddousi wrote:
This Pallas’ cat was photographed in Khosh Yeylagh, one of the oldest reserves in Iran, after more than 10 years since the last observation. The cat was accompanied by a cub.
Khosh Yeylagh reserve is located in the east of the Alborz Mountains in northern Iran.
This and one more photo by courtesy of Iran Environment and Wildlife Watch.

3 September

Nasanbat Battogtokh sent this photo and wrote:
On 29 June, one of our camera traps captured a Pallas’ cat near “Suuj” spring behind “Tsagaan bogd” mountain in the Trans-Altai Gobi, Mongolia.