Taipei-Miaoli County in northern Taiwan on Tuesday became the first administrative division in the country to pass a law on the conservation of a single species after the county council passed a bill to better protect the endangered leopard cat.
The Miaoli County Leopard Cat Conservation Autonomous Bill stipulates that the county government must consult with leopard cat experts before developing any piece of land larger than 1 hectare or widen any road with a length of more than 1 kilometer.
The bill, which went into immediate effect, also requires the county government to conduct regular surveys on the habitat of the animal, and to encourage more people to take part in conservation efforts, such as patrols, through government subsidies.
The passage of the bill, initiated by county councilors last month, came after two failed attempts by the county government, which had submitted two similar bills over the past two years.
According to the Leopard Cat Association of Taiwan, the population of leopard cats -- the nation's only surviving wild feline -- is currently estimated at less than 500.
Feeding mostly on mice and rats, leopard cats, which have tawny black-spotted pelts, are roughly the size of house cats and they thrive in Taiwan's lower elevations below 500 meters.
Most of them are found in Miaoli, with others recorded in central Taichung and Nantou County.
Given that the leopard cat's habitats are bisected by roads, there are frequent roadkill incidents involving the animal.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel