Dr. Jim Sanderson

Dr. Jim Sanderson, Ph.D., is the FCF’s expert conservation advisor on the Conservation Grant Fund committee. Dr. Sanderson is a world recognized expert on all small wild cat species, as well as a landscape ecologist. Dr. Sanderson has used radio-telemetry and trail cameras to study small cats in Central and South America, Asia and Africa. Jim is an active member of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group and the founder of the Small Cat Conservation Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to the study and conservation of the world’s endangered small cat species.

About a decade ago the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) became the World Conservation Union but remains best known as the IUCN. The Cat Specialist Group, one of the IUCNs specialists groups, is a group of volunteer scientists and leading authorities on the status of wildcat populations. One responsibility of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group is to maintain and regularly update the conservation status of each wildcat species. The conservation status of all of the world’s cat species is summarized in the IUCN’s Red List. The Red List should not be confused with the CITES Appendices I-III.

Dr. Sanderson wrote to FCF members in a past journal issue:

Generally, the less specialists hear about a certain specie of wildcat, the more concern we have for their populations in the wild. But how can we be sure? Concerted efforts must be made to learn more about certain species in the wild. For instance, I am now seriously involved in trying to gain a better understanding of the conservation status of the Bay cat, Chinese cat, Flat-headed cat and Marbled cat. Suffice to say, I am seriously concerned that these species are threatened with extinction. Each has its own unique set of threats that are taking a heavy toll on their populations. Years of concentrated effort are required and this is primarily because few specialists and students are willing or able to undertake such efforts full time with little or no financial support.

The role of FCF, a group of private individuals whose members keep captive cats, in my view, should be expanded to include rare and threatened species and in-situ educators. I urge the FCF to come up with a viable, coherent program whereby the members of the FCF can become actively involved in in-situ zoo training for keepers and enclosure upgrading and construction. Prime examples in immediate need are keepers and facilities with Flat-headed cats in Malaysia and Chinese cats in China. A days worth of training is not enough and proper model enclosures cannot be built in a day. However, the keepers are keen to learn and things are a lot cheaper outside of North America, Europe and Japan. I have the in-situ contacts. The measure of success of such programs is captive breeding. Change is long overdue……

You can learn more about Dr. Sanderson’s projects on his website a www.smallcats.org.