Prelims level : Environment Mains level : GS3 - Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
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Why in News:

  • Scientists have found that the golden cat in six types of colours cinnamon, golden, gray, melanistic, ocelot and tightly rosetted Golden is no longer the only colour the elusive Asiatic golden cat can be associated with.
  • Its coat comes in five other shades in Arunachal Pradesh.


  • The Asiatic golden cat (Catopuma temminckii) is listed as near threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of threatened species.
  • It is found across eastern Nepal through north-eastern India to Indonesia.
  • Bhutan and China were known to have two morphs of the golden cat — one the colour of cinnamon and the other with markings similar to the ocelot, a small wild cat found in the Americas. Indian scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), an international conservation charity, and University College London (UCL) have discovered six colour morphs of the golden cat in Dibang Valley of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The findings have contributed to an evolutionary puzzle because no other place on earth has so many colours of wild cats of the same species.
  • It is believed that the wide variation displayed in the cat’s coats provides them with several ecological benefits such as occupying different habitats at different elevations from wet tropical lowland forests to alpine scrubs and providing camouflage while preying on pheasants and rabbits. Colour morphs are thought to arise from random genetic mutations and take hold in the population through natural selection
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