Felis chaus (Guldenstaedt 1776) Jungle Cat
Hebrew name: חתול ביצות, hatul bitzot
Global Threat: NE – Not Evaluated
Regional Threat: VU (B,D1+2) – Vulnerable
Distribution area: In the Mediterranean region on the Coastal Plain and the valleys; along the Syrian-African Rift Valley from the Jordan headwaters and the Hula Valley to the Dead Sea area, in suitable habitats.
Historic distribution: Tristram (1884) wrote that this species was not rare in Palestine and was particularly common in riverbank thickets and reed beds and along the Jordan River (in Ilani 1979). Aharoni (1930) noted that the jungle cat is very rare now near the Jordan (in Ilani 1979). Bodenheimer (1958) reported the species to be common in Israel (in Ilani 1979). In the 1970s it became apparent that the jungle cat’s distribution had expanded from the coastal stream system and the Jordan River basin north to the southern Golan Heights and south to the northern Negev, probably as a result of the expansion of pisciculture (fishponds) and the construction of many large reservoirs.
Typical Habitat: Dense vegetation near water bodies, wetlands (e.g. salt marshes), grassy agricultural fields. Usually not found above altitudes of 500 m.
Threat and Disturbance Factors:
1. Degradation of wetlands, water sources and the dense vegetation surrounding them.
2. Rodent poisoning in agricultural areas.
3. Fishpond area reduction.
Population Size Estimate: Ilani (1979) estimated the population in Israel at about 600 individuals, at a maximal density of 1.4 individuals per km2. The current population is probably similar.
Fluctuations in Population Size: Apparently stable since the 1970s.
Isolation between Subpopulations: Unknown.
Necessary Steps for Species Preservation: Preservation of wetlands, clean water sources and the thickets surrounding them.