World first for NFEFI

In another world first, the Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation (NFEFI) has successfully bred two Visayan leopard cat kittens at its Biodiversity Conservation Center (BCC) in Bacolod City.

This is the first time this subspecies has been bred in captivity anywhere in the world .

The breeding pair were rescued early last year from La Carlota City - the female from the farm of former NFEFI president Gerry Ledesma and the male from a nearby farm. Both parents are around 20 months old. The kittens were born earlier this month.

An adult Visayan leopard cat

"This is an amazing feat," said Gerry Ledesma. "Breeding leopard cats is extremely difficult as these beautiful animals are sadly prone to many diseases, especially those spread by stray cats. I congratulate everyone involved at NFEFI, especially curator Dr. Joanne Justo and her team."

This is the latest in a series of world first clocked-up by NFEFI in the conservation-breeding of endangered species. Other successful firsts include the Visayan tarictic hornbill in 1999, the Negros sailfin lizard in 2003 and the Philippine eagle-owl in 2005.

NFEFI has also successfully bred Visayan spotted deer, Visayan warty pigs and the Visayan bleeding-heart pigeons. All are critically endangered and endemic the West Visayas Faunal Region.

"All of these species are fully protected by law and it's illegal to kill, capture, transport, buy, sell or maintain them in captivity whether as pets or animal collections except under special permits from the DENR," said NFEFI president Teddy Boy Infante.

"Unfortunately, many of these animals are still hunted, whether for human consumption or for the exotic animal trade".

The ongoing project 'Partnerhips for Biodiversity Conservation: Mainstreaming to Local Agricultural Landscape (Biodiversity Partnerships Project)' of the NFEFI, Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc. (PBCFI), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Region VI, the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental, the different local governments units and other stakeholders is intended to increase the protection efforts in the biologically critical sites in the province, primarily the North Negros Natural Park and also the critical limestone forest fragments in south-western Negros.

Both areas are crucial to the survival not only of Visayan leopard cats but also to huge array of critically threatened species found only in West Visayan Faunal Region.