According to a recent NHK news report, a man living on the island of Tsushima narrowly avoided prosecution after it became clear that he had secretly kept a wild Japanese leopard cat in his home for 15 years before he was forced to seek assistance. As angered as the authorities were, however, they ultimately decided that they might learn from the man’s experiences and are due to talk to him about how he managed to keep the animal alive for such a length of time.
Tsushima leopard cats, an isolated species known to live on the island of the same name between the Japanese mainland and the Korean Peninsula, are currently on Japan’s endangered species list, with as few as 100 thought to remain in the wild. One man, however, appears to be a dab hand at caring for the creatures as he managed to keep one at home for as long as the average pampered domestic cat lives for.
According to the NHK report, the unnamed man contacted a local animal welfare center on Oct 18 by phone, saying, “the wild Tsushima cat I have been caring for is ill and needs treatment.” A veterinarian was sent to the man’s house to tend to the sick animal – a female aged around 16 years – but when it was judged that the cat was too weak to be treated on site it was transported to the center where, sadly, it died several hours later, at which point Japan’s Ministry of the Environment became involved.
When questioned about the animal, its former owner told authorities that he had discovered the young cat lying injured in the road some 15 years ago, and after having taken it to an animal hospital for treatment, decided to keep it at home.
Apparently the arrangement worked out fairly well for both of them as, despite the sudden change of environment, the animal lived to be quite a respectable age for a feline, with authorities commenting that it likely died of age-related diseases.
Ordinarily, the man would have been prosecuted for the possession of an endangered animal, but authorities ruled that there was no evidence of the cat having come to any harm under the man’s care and acknowledged that he had chosen to help the animal when it most needed it. In fact, representatives from the ministry have decided to take this opportunity to talk with the former owner to ascertain how he managed to care for the rare animal for so long and keep it in good health as numbers of wild Tsushima leopard cats continue to dwindle.
Source: NHK News Web via Hachima Kiko
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