Dead Iriomote cat found on road on Iriomote

Ministry of the Environment, Naha Office, announced that an Iriomote cat was found dead on the prefectural road 215 on Iriomote Island, Taketomi Town.

The cat was likely killed in a traffic accident. Its body was found on Jan. 23 afternoon, so officials speculate that the accident may have happened daytime. This is the first time this year that an Iriomote cat has been killed in a road accident.

Iriomote National Park Ranger Office urges people to drive carefully. The highly endangered Iriomote cat is usually active between dusk and dawn, but they are also often active daytime and come out on roads. Since the end of 2016, there has been four cases of Iriomote cats being killed by traffic.

The Iriomote cat is a wild cat species that only lives on Iriomote Island, living in the narrowest distributional area of any cat species in the world. They were discovered in 1965 and are designated as a national natural treasure. They are a highly endangered species with the estimated number of cats only between 100 and 109 according to an investigation from 2005 to 2007, and their numbers are declining.

They are active mainly nighttime and eat any small animals. They can climb up a tree and go in water to catch fish. The main cause of their decreasing numbers are traffic accidents. The Iriomote Wildlife Center protects them and rehabilitates injured cats when found.