Why Fund Conservation Field Research?

Field research is the scientific study of a species’ natural history. Where are the cats located? What kind of habitat do they use? What do they eat? What are their activity patterns and social organizations?

Without all these answers, it is impossible to design an effective conservation plan. Without knowing how large the population is, or their preferred habitat, suitable protected areas cannot be determined. Information is gathered with the use of radio telemetry equipment, camera traps, box traps, scat and track surveys, and interviews with local people.

Please note: ISEC Canada does not hire any staff for field projects. We support researchers around the world who have initiated their own projects, and hire their own staff.

Small Wild Cat Conservation Research

small wild cat field researchThe small cats are extremely difficult to study in the wild, and not just because of their size. Compounded by their shy, elusive nature, most of the cats are nocturnal. Often they live in the densest rainforest, in very thick cover where they leave no tracks. Cats living in the wide ranging deserts pose other problems. One study of the Sand Cat in Israel found that these small cats cover their scat, the fur on the pads of their feet leaves little trace in the sand, and they close their eyes when a light is shone on them before turning around and melting into the dark.

The small tropical cats are currently perceived as having no economic value, and thus are of little value in their native countries. People destroy the cats, either deliberately or through habitat alteration and removal of prey species, because they are seen as being valueless.

For effective wild cat conservation, research must make cat populations more valuable to local residents and government authorities. Field studies identify areas where they may be found, and provide data on their ecology to bring in eco-tourists. Details on the small cats’ prey species, usually agricultural pests and disease carriers, help convince rural people that these little cats are valuable allies.



See our Projects Funded page for more information on where our money goes.

12 Responses

  1. Shavez Cheema

    Hi! 🙂 I am from Brunei Darussalam and the founder of 1stopbrunei wildlife(facebook)

    We do wildlife research and rescues in Brunei

    We recently embarked on our camera trapping project and we finally have documented the Borneo Clouded Leopard and Marbled Cat.

    We believe there is much more potiential. We know leopard cats are present and perhaps the rarest of them all Borneo Bay cat

    Was wondering if you guys can fund some camera trap equipment for research work? 🙂 we have our own team and volunteers and staff. Its just the equipment we lack 🙂


  2. Mario Verrico

    There are melanistic Jaguars on Edisto island South Carolina. My sister, cousin and family friend have all had sightings on the nature reserve on the island. I’ve been in contact with authorities there, they are well know to the residents. As you may know Jaguars are reclaiming lost territory in North America, and these have been clear sightings, the spots were visible in the sun as jaguar and not an escaped pet leopard. There are morons hunting for them, you need to help get them and their territory protected, please feel free to contact me, this is very exciting, and wonderful. We don’t want this to become a tragedy.

    • Pat Bumstead

      Jaguars are an endangered species in the US, and therefore are protected from hunting. You need to take some photos of these cats, and then contact the Department of Natural Resources to report them. If you get some photos, please email them to us at smallwildcats@gmail.com and we’ll see if we can get someone to investigate!

  3. vsj

    I wish to do a work on Rusty Spotted Cat for my Masters. Before deciding on the main area , i would like to know if i could get any funding for my project. If sufficient funding is provided then my work would be carried out for a period of 4 months in a part of South India.

  4. Deb Hayes

    I would love an addition to the website for projects looking for volunteers. Either as interships for biologiy students, or as ecovacations for retirees.

    I’m a PhD research with a US natural resource agency. With retirement 3 years away, I’ve decided to focus that time on supporting research in small wildcats. I’d love to volunteer (pay my own way) to help some small wildcat researchers around the world.

    Another example, My brother is near retirement from teaching high school and would also love to volunteer on international ecology projects.

    You could work with AARP to attract their membership. I think this would be a great way to increase public knowledge about endangered small wildcats.

    • Pat Bumstead

      This would be an excellent addition to the website, if only we knew of any volunteer opportunities to work with small wild cats! In many cases, if the project uses volunteers they are required to use local people, which has the added benefit of teaching them about their own cat species. It’s up to each project leader if they want to use volunteers, but we don’t have a list of people requesting them. One of the projects we funded in the past used Earthwatch volunteers for short period, but quit due to the extra amount of work involved for the research team. I will check with the Black-footed Cat Project on your behalf though, and let you know via email if opportunities exist for you in South Africa.

  5. kobryan

    I am a wildlife biology student and would like to assist on a small cat research project in South or Central America the summer of 2014. I would only be available for a maximum of two weeks. Any projects underway?

    • Pat Bumstead

      ISEC Canada does not initiate field projects. We supply funding to researchers who have implemented their own projects, and hired their own staff and volunteers. We do not have a list of ongoing projects, but it would be a great thing to add to the website. Thanks for the idea!

  6. dr pernikoff

    Looking for immediate funding in the neighborhood of $5000 for work in Africa with exotic cats. Can you let em know what possibility there is to acquire some immediate funding. I leave for Africa early June. I will survey health conditions of some managed cats. Thanks so much. Dr. D. Pernikoff

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