Asiatic Golden Cat (Catopuma temminckii) is one of the widely distributed wildcat species in Bhutan from lower subtropics to areas above 3,000m. It is one of the largest of all the other small cats geographically distributed over South Asia (Nepal, Bhutan, and North-Eastern India) through parts of China to South-Eastern Asia (Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, and Sumatra). The Asiatic golden cat is generally found in forested habitats with some records from scrubs, open rocky terrain, and grasslands from sea level to 4,000m.
In Bhutan, four different morphs of Asiatic golden cats (Golden form, ocelot form, melanistic form, and grey form) were recorded. However, the new study revealed the presence of two new color morphs, cinnamon and the rosetted morphs of the Asiatic golden cat. It is believed that the Asiatic golden cat’s polymorphism helps them overcome competition and predation from larger carnivores in the wild.
This finding was the result of the joint research project on resolving population estimation biases from camera-trap studies undertaken by the World Wildlife Fund and the Department of Forest and Park Services in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London, Panthera International, Flora and Fauna International, and the University of Southampton with a lead researcher from the Department of Forest and Park Services. The study site was in the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park and Royal Manas National Park in central Bhutan.
The study for calibrating camera-trap bias deployed 300 cameras in 100 2 x 2 km survey grid cells for 14 months period in Tingtibee Range (Administrative block) of Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park and Gomphu Range of Royal Manas National Park. The camera-trap pictures reveal the presence of the Asiatic golden cat from 800 to 2500 m in this study area.