Scientists have discovered six different ‘colour morphs’ of the Asiatic golden cat in Arunachal Pradesh, recently. The findings indicate that the ‘near-threatened’ wild cat species, which is native to Northeast India, could become one of the most adaptable predators in Eastern Himalayas.
The study carried out by scientists from Zoological Society of London, an international conservation charity and University College London in forests across Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh was published in Ecological Society of America’s journal Ecology.
‘According to evolutionary theory, if a colour morph is not beneficial for a species survival over time, it should die out in the population. The fact that we have so many different colour morphs persisting in Dibang Valley shows there must be some ecological advantages to the variety of colours,’ said lead author Dr Sahil Nijhawan, a British Academy Fellow at University College London.
‘At least, now we know that the Dibang Valley hosts the world’s most diverse range of colour morphs of a wild cat species ever reported in one site. But we are only just starting to understand this rare ecological phenomenon,’ he added.
Asiatic Golden cat is a medium-sized wild cat native to Northeastern Indian subcontinent and is listed as ‘Near Threatened’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.