The jungle cat, Felis chaus, is one of the most common small wild cats in southeast Asia. Also known as the reed cat and the swamp cat, the jungle cat has a distinct vocalization, which sounds like “wow!” Once thought to be a relative of the lynx family, it is actually a close relative of the domestic cat.
The range of the jungle cat is patchy but spans two continents, Africa and Asia. In Africa, it is found only around the Nile River and in the Nile Delta in Egypt. The rest of its range is scattered across southwestern Asia, including India and the Middle East. Major threats to the jungle cat are loss of habitat to industrialization and urbanization of agricultural areas, primarily on the Indian subcontinent. Infrastructure development (land reclamation, dam construction, and irrigation) are also major threats to the jungle cat as these projects destroy the natural wetlands the jungle cat calls home. Environmental pollution and illegal hunting make up secondary threats to the species. Trapping, snaring, and poisoning in agricultural areas throughout its rage are also secondary threats to the jungle cat.
Despite its name, the jungle cat is not closely associated with the classic tropical rainforests one thinks of when imagining the “jungle.” In fact, the jungle cat is mostly found in the marshy swamp areas and low-lying wetlands throughout its range, areas with water and thick vegetation.
The majority of the jungle cat’s diet consists of prey that weighs less that a single kilogram, principally small rodents. Birds, hare, nutria, reptiles such as lizards and snakes, frogs, insects, and fish make up secondary prey sources. However, while these predators specialize in small prey, jungle cats are physically capable of taking down larger prey like young swine, gazelle, and fawns.