The fitoaty: an unidentified carnivoran species from the Masoala peninsula of Madagascar
Little is known about carnivoran ecology and population dynamics in northeastern Madagascar, especially on the little studied Masoala peninsula. This leaves the status of threatened carnivores on the Masoala peninsula poorly understood. Even less is known about the relative taxonomic position and role of domestic, feral, and possible wild cats in Madagascar. Adequate conservation of the Masoala peninsula will remain limited until the status, threats, and roles of felines and native carnivorans in regional system dynamics are documented. Six of the ten carnivoran species belonging to the endemic family Eupleridae, as well as introduced civets, domestic dogs, and cats are known to exist on the peninsula. This paper reports an animal of unknown identity in the Masoala carnivoran assemblage, the fitoaty. Specifically it, (i) reports preliminary observations on the fitoaty collected on the Masoala peninsula, and (ii) describes fitoaty distribution and habits based on local knowledge. Fitoaty appear to have a broad geographic range on the peninsula and to prefer contiguous forests near and within the Masoala National Park. The author tentatively identifies the fitoaty as Felis sp. but extensive carnivoran trapping and genetic testing of the fitoaty are needed to adequately assess the range and identity of this carnivoran and its potential impact on local ecosystems.