Rare photo of a leopard cat walking in the water of Shenzhen Bay Park
Updated 12:40, 23-Oct-2022

As Shenzhen has created several ecological corridors throughout the city, more and more animals are being sighted. 

A visitor captured a photo of a leopard cat, which is the first time the species been seen in Shenzhen Bay Park.

The leopard cat is a Grade II protected animal, similar in size to the domestic cat but more slender, and is generally found at night, preferring to move around water ponds. The leopard cat is also known as the "money cat" in China because the spots on its body resemble the Chinese copper coins.

Zhou Linhong, who captured the rare photo, is a photography enthusiast and a member of the Shenzhen Birdwatching Association.

"A few days ago, I came to the observation deck near the mangrove forest to photograph migratory birds, and suddenly a group of migratory birds flew up and a cat slowly emerged from the water, which looked very nervous, and then the cat slowly walked out of the water. I found that this cat was much larger than ordinary cats and had leopard prints on its body, so I thought it should be a leopard cat." Zhou said.

Why did the leopard cat, which usually haunts the mountains and forests, appear in Shenzhen Bay? Guo Qiang, a staff member of the Shenzhen Wildlife Protection Management Office, said it is possible that the ecological environment of Shenzhen Bay, including food and greenery, attracts it to migrate this way.

Guo said, "It is very rare to see a leopard cat in the daytime and in a park where human activities are frequent. The leopard cat used to be hunted extensively because of its beautiful fur, so the population of its species has declined sharply."

"The leopard cat probably came through the two mountains and followed the Dasha River, an ecological corridor. This shows that after the transformation of the Dasha River, it really plays the role of an ecological promenade. In fact, leopard cat populations are distributed in many places in Shenzhen. In recent years, after the Dasha River has undergone ecological restoration, the whole ecological condition has improved, with not only mudflats but also grasses, which is conducive to wildlife migration." Guo said.

"In addition to leopard cats, other protected animals have been found one after another, such as Eurasian otters and green-browed ducks, which are related to the transformation of Shenzhen's ecological environment," said Lin Shishi, who is a senior engineer at the Guangdong Environmental Protection Engineering Vocational College. "Shenzhen delineates the boundaries of ecological space and prohibits construction within the basic ecological control line. As a result, many evergreen broad-leaved forests and a variety of habitats have been preserved in Shenzhen," he added. 

(Video provided by Shenzhen Media Group. Cover image is a screen shot.)

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