Pardofelis marmorata 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Felidae

Scientific Name: Pardofelis marmorata (Martin, 1837)
Common Name(s):
English Marbled Cat
French Chat marbré
Spanish Gato Jaspeado
Taxonomic Notes: The Marbled Cat (Pardofelis marmorata) was placed with the Asiatic Golden Cat and Borneo Bay Cat in Pardofelis by Johnson et al. (2006) representing one of the earliest felid radiations (O'Brien and Johnson 2007). Although these genetic analyses conclude the Marbled Cat is not a close relative of Neofelis, previously it had been considered so, on the basis of morphological similarities including its coat pattern, broad feet, and elongated tail and canines (Groves 1982, Corbet and Hill 1992). More recent genetic analyses (Luo et al. 2014) suggest species-level distinction between the Indochinese and Sundaic populations of the Marbled Cat although further research is needed to corroborate this.

Note: This is an amended version of the assessment to add the name of an Assessor who was omitted in error. Two references cited in the text (Velho 2013,  Yue et al. in press) have been updated (the latter was published in 2015) and added to the Bibliography. The hyperlinks included in the Range text have all been removed as they were not intended to be included.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2015-07-19
Assessor(s): Ross, J., Brodie, J., Cheyne, S., Datta, A., Hearn, A., Loken, B., Lynam, A., McCarthy, J., Phan, C., Rasphone, A., Singh, P. & Wilting, A.
Reviewer(s): Nowell, K., Hunter, L., Duckworth, J.W., Breitenmoser-Würsten, C., Lanz, T. & Breitenmoser, U.
Contributor(s): Haidir, I.A., Hedges, L., Zaw, T., Chutipong, W., Tantipisanuh, N., Grassman, L., Sanderson, J., Ross, J., Sunarto, S. & Mukherjee, S.
The Marbled Cat is listed as Near Threatened although it is close to qualifying as Vulnerable under criteria A and C. The change in status from Vulnerable in the 2008 assessment to Near Threatened must not be taken to reflect an actual increase in population nor a reduction of threats, rather the increasing number of camera trap surveys across Asia have, in recent years, confirmed the presence of previously only suspected populations and in some areas have resulted in a higher than expected number of detections and individuals. Despite this, the Marbled Cat remains little known and, across its range, is recorded relatively infrequently, which has hampered efforts to accurately assess its status, so much so that the assessors could not make a unanimous decision, with some assessors believing that maintaining the status as Vulnerable was more appropriate, we therefore report Near Threatened as the view of the majority. Current data suggest the Marbled Cat is forest dependent but does persist in degraded forest. It is also present over a wide elevation range and in rugged areas – areas in which forest loss is slower than average for the region. Marbled Cats are also threatened by hunting, but currently quantitative data is lacking and we cannot assess the impact this is having on the population. There are no published estimates of population density for the Marbled Cat, however, across its range, density probably varies considerably, but given the large range (currently estimated at roughly 1,500,000 km²) the population density needs to be below one individual per 100 km² to qualify for Vulnerable under criterion C (fewer than 10,000 mature individuals), this seems implausible in several areas. In summary, the population is probably slightly too large and declining too slowly (c. 25%) to qualify as Vulnerable.

If future research challenges these key assumptions (presence in rugged terrain, over wide elevations, large geographic range, tolerance to some habitat degradation) or provides evidence of a substantially fragmented population, extremely low population density, heavy hunting pressure, or stronger support of the proposed species split, the status will need revising and it is likely that it would then qualify for Vulnerable, probably under criterion C.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

The Marbled Cat is found from the Himalayan foothills in Nepal eastwards into southwest China, southwards throughout mainland Southeast Asia and on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. There are many recent records from protected and non-protected areas throughout its range - examples include Borneo: Danum Valley Conservation Area and surrounding production forest, Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Crocker Range National Park, Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Gomantong Forest Reserve, and Tawau Hills National Park (Hearn, Ross and Macdonald unpubl. data), Maliau Basin Conservation Area (Brodie and Giordano 2011), Deramakot Forest Reserve (Mohamed et al. 2009), Sabangau catchment (including Sebangau National Park) (Cheyne and Macdonald 2010), Bawan Forest Complex, Kutai National Park, Murung Raya Forest Complex, Sungai Wain Protection Forest (Cheyne et al. in prep.), Upper Baram region of Sarawak (Mathai et al. 2010), Sumatra: Gunung Leuser National Park (Pusparini et al. 2014), Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (Wibisono and McCarthy 2010), Peninsular Malaysia: Endau Rompin National Park (Gumal et al. 2014), Myanmar: Taninthary Nature Reserve (Than Zaw et al. 2014), Thailand: Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary (Riggio and Lynam unpublished data), Cambodia: Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary (Gray et al. 2014), Preah Roka Forest (Suzuki et al. 2015), north-east India: Namdapha Tiger Reserve (Datta et al. 2008a,b; F. Ahmed et al. unpubl. data), Pakke Tiger Reserve (Lyngdoh et al. 2011), Eaglenest WLS (Velho 2013, P. Choudhary et al. unpubl. data) in Arunachal Pradesh, Joypur-Dehing area in eastern Assam (K. Kakati unpubl. data), Manas Tiger Reserve in western Assam (Borah et al. 2013) Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram (Lalthanpuia et al. 2012, P. Singh unpubl. data) and sighting records /reports from the Mishmi Hills (Raj Kamal Phukan pers. comm.) and South Garo Hills, Meghalaya (Samrakshan Trust 2007), Bhutan: Royal Manas National Park (Tempa et al. 2013), Bangladesh: Moulvibazar district (Khan 2015).

The current assessment map shows range within existing forest cover (Hansen et al. 2013, Miettinen et al. 2011) but also includes small fragmented areas where Marbled Cats are known to still exist.   

Countries occurrence:
Bangladesh; Bhutan; Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia; China; India; Indonesia (Kalimantan, Sumatera); Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak); Myanmar; Nepal; Thailand; Viet Nam
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):2500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


There are no population density estimates for the Marbled Cat. In most surveys, detection rates tend to be lower for this species than some sympatric felids such as the Asiatic Golden Cat (e.g. Pusparini et al. 2014, Gumal et al. 2014, Than Zaw et al. 2014) and both species of Clouded Leopard, but higher than others such as the Bay Cat (Ross et al. 2010, Hearn, Ross and Macdonald unpubl. data). However, in some surveys, when individual animals have been identified, a similar number or even a higher number of individual Marbled Cats compared to Clouded Leopards have been found (Hearn, Ross and Macdonald unpubl. data). It is therefore possible that low detection rates may under some circumstances arise from cameras placed inappropriately for Marbled Cats, it is also likely that the population density will vary greatly across the range and it is important to note that many surveys have resulted in very few detections. However, unless population densities are very low, or the distribution extremely patchy it is likely that the total population numbers over 10,000 mature individuals, although this is certainly in decline.

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Current data suggest that the Marbled Cat is forest dependent, primarily associated with moist and mixed deciduous-evergreen tropical forest (Nowell and Jackson 1996), and may prefer hill forest (Duckworth et al. 1999, Holden 2001, Grassman et al. 2005). The increasing use of camera traps throughout its range is revealing detections from disturbed areas (e.g. Mohamed et al. 2009, Mathai et al. 2010), including recently logged forest (e.g. Ross et al. 2010), but surveys of oil palm plantations in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo have not detected marbled cats within the plantations (Ross et al. 2010, Yue et al. 2015). Grassman and Tewes (2002) reported a pair of adult Marbled Cats in a salt lick in Thailand's Phu Khieu National Park.

The Marbled Cat has never been intensively studied, but Grassman et al. (2005) report a preliminary home range estimate of 5.3 km² for an adult female who was radio-collared and tracked for one month in Thailand's Phu Khieu National Park. There is no detailed information regarding Marbled Cat diet, but it probably preys primarily on rodents, including squirrels (Nowell and Jackson 1996), and birds.

The Marbled Cat appears to be primarily diurnal (Ross et al. 2010, Lynam et al. 2013).

Generation Length (years):5

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: See Threats section.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

The Marbled Cat is forest dependent and forest loss and degradation is continuing across its range from logging and expansion of human settlements and agriculture, including oil palm plantations. The Marbled Cat is valued for skin, meat and bones, although it is infrequently observed in the wildlife trade (Nowell and Jackson 1996). However, it is possible that illegal killing and trade is underreported compared to other species. Targeted and indiscriminate snaring are prevalent throughout much of the range and likely to pose a significant threat. They have been reported as poultry pests (Nowell and Jackson 1996, Mishra et al. 2006) which also results in retaliatory killing. Records of hunting and skins are known from several areas in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, north-east India - Vijaynagar-Gandhigram in Changlang district (A. Datta unpubl. data), West Kameng district (Mishra et al. 2006), Pakke Kessang, East Kameng district (Lyngdoh et al. 2011), Ziro valley, Lower Subansiri (Selvan et al. 2013) and from Khonoma in Nagaland (Grewal et al. 2011).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

The Marbled Cat is listed on CITES Appendix I and is protected by national legislation across most of its range. Hunting is prohibited in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China (Yunnan only), India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand. Hunting regulations are in place in Lao PDR and Singapore (Nowell and Jackson 1996). It occurs in many protected areas, but levels of active protection for wildlife vary widely between countries and also between protected areas within countries; it also occurs in unprotected places. However, to better understand its conservation needs and to realize a better assessment in the future, further research is needed into Marbled Cat ecology, distribution and status. More information is especially required regarding the population density, the effects that habitat degradation has on population density and distribution, the extent of hunting and the frequency at which Marbled Cats appear in illegal trade.

Citation: Ross, J., Brodie, J., Cheyne, S., Datta, A., Hearn, A., Loken, B., Lynam, A., McCarthy, J., Phan, C., Rasphone, A., Singh, P. & Wilting, A. 2016. Pardofelis marmorata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T16218A97164299. . Downloaded on 24 September 2018.
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