A Voice For The Wild Cats of the World
Tag Archives: south american wild cats
October 17, 2011Posted by on
Many of our ISEC Canada members are keen photographers, and include both amateur and professional photogs. We are always happy to showcase wild cat photos on this blog, so if you have any pictures you would like to brag about, please email them to our office at email@example.com. Click to enlarge photos.
Ben Williams in the United Kingdom has sent us more wild cat photos. This week we’re featuring the Margay Leopardus wiedii, photographed at Port Lympne Wildlife Park in Kent.
Margays are one member of the small spotted cat trio in South America that also includes the Ocelot Leopardus pardalis and the Oncilla Leopardus tigrinus. The Margay is smaller than the more common Ocelot, but larger than the tiny Oncilla. Their similarity to one another can make identification difficult. Researchers have discovered that all three are often called ‘tigrillo’, or perhaps ‘tigrillito’, when local people are shown pictures and asked to identify the wild cats that live in the area.
Now I ask you – is that not THE most adorable small wild cat of all?! Not that I’m partial or anything, but just look at that face…
Read more about the Margay on our website
May 13, 2011Posted by on
March 31, 2011Posted by on
The Argentine Espinal is an arid grassland and shrubland mosaic that has been greatly modified since the 1600’s, when cattle became the prominent species on the landscape. Found today only in fragmented patches, the Espinal was once home to a great diversity of birds, plants and mammals, among them a unique guild of felids composed of the Pampas cat Leopardus colocolo, Geoffroy’s cat Leopardus geoffroyi, Jaguarundi Puma yagouaroundi and Puma Puma concolor.
A major point of interest is that in the neighbouring Pampas grasslands, only low density populations of the Geoffroy’s cat have been able to survive, while other felids have already disappeared from most of it. Pumas are thought to be extirpated or at least very rare in most of eastern Argentina, but there is no reliable information about their distribution. However, it is known that this is their last stronghold in this largely modified region.This means the Espinal is on the frontline of extinction for cats.
As a consequence of ranching becoming the main industry in this area, the natural woodlands have been heavily logged and natural prey populations largely exterminated. The region has been overgrazed by domestic animals, and increased human-carnivore conflicts occur when carnivores prey on livestock.
Recently, weather conditions and governmental policies have favoured sheep over cattle ranching. The increased availability of sheep, a much easier prey for Pumas, has exacerbated conflicts with local people. The pressure of ranchers on governmental authority to permit Puma hunting is now extremely strong, and may bring the Puma population to the brink of local extinction.
Cats are particularly vulnerable to local extinction in fragmented landscapes because of their large ranges, low population numbers and direct persecution by humans, due not only to predator control, but also hunting for the skin trade. Thus, to create effective management strategies, a thorough understanding of both the ecological requirements of the cats in the Espinal and the dynamics of human-carnivore interactions is needed. The current crisis also requires urgent conflict mitigation measures as well as awareness activities.
The goal of this recently started project is to address this emergency by 1) implementing immediate actions to mitigate conflicts and 2) developing a longer term plan for sustainable management of carnivore populations in the region. With this in mind, researchers will use a range of tools and strategies:
- Investigation – compare abundance of cats in areas largely modified by human activities with that in areas where the natural habitats of the Espinal are still dominant.
- Management – understand rural people’s conception of and attitudes towards wild cats, and identify the presence of and reasons for conflicts.
- Education – increase local awareness about the ecological importance of carnivores to the natural health of the ecosystem.
Next (Southern Hemisphere) summer, researchers plan to use repeated interviews to model felid occupation over large areas, and compare these estimates with results of a camera trap survey in a more restricted area. Simultaneously, pending adequate funding, they will test measures to mitigate livestock losses by Pumas, and start an awareness campaign targeting both adults and teenagers of rural towns.
Estela Luengos Vidal, Claudi Manfredi & Mauro Lucherini, GECM
The Grupo de Ecologia Comportamental de Mamiferos (GECM) is a team of Argentine researchers, conservationists and educators devoted to explore solutions to the conservation issues of South American mammals They have particular expertise on the most elusive carnivores, and are frequent recipients of grants from ISEC Canada.
See also the Photo Gallery: Felids of The Argentine Espinal
September 15, 2010Posted by on
The Kodkod, or Guiña, Leopardus guigna is the smallest wild cat in the Americas. It also has the smallest distribution of any South American cat, being found only in Chile, and a small portion of Agentina.
These tiny cats are strongly associated with the moist temperate forests characterized by the presence of bamboo in the understory. The Kodkod is also tolerant of altered habitats, and can be found in secondary forest and shrub on the fringes of settled and cultivated areas.
Kodkods are nocturnal only in the presence of humans, and are naturally active day and night if undisturbed. They are ground-dwellersl for the most part, although they have well developed climbing abilities, sheltering in the trees during the day and when pursued. Prey items are small mammals such as mice and rats, birds, insects and reptiles.
The major threat to the Kodkod is logging of its temperate forest habitat, and the spread of pine forest plantations and agriculture. Lower densities have been found in plantation forest, which was only used if it was close to native forest or had native forest regeneration in the understory.
On Chiloe Island off the southern tip of Chile, subsistence farmers have cleared much of the land, and Kodkods are found only in small corridors of brush left standing to divide fields and along roads. They will cross the roads only when the trees cast dark shadows.
Kodkods are also viewed negatively as poultry killers, with 81.4% of families interviewed in a rural area of southern Chile considering them “damaging or very damaging”.
During the first field study of these little cats on Chiloe Island, researchers found the local people believed this little cat was a vampire, sucking the blood of its prey. This error resulted from their finding two puncture marks on the neck of domestic poultry, which were actually the punctures from the cats’ canine teeth. By talking to the schools and farmers, researchers did much to dispel this myth.
The most important conservation measure for this cat is providing wildlife corridors between native forest patches. It is also important, in areas such as Chiloe Island where they are considered livestock pests, to improve chicken coops and reduce conflict.
There are very few pictures of the Kodkod, and even fewer videos. This amazing footage is from BBC’s Planet Earth documentary, narrated by Sir David Attenborough.
July 14, 2010Posted by on
Of course cats like water. Just ask a jaguar, or a tiger, fishing cat, flat-headed cat…
I recently came across this absolutely stunning HD video from Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Woodland Park is far and away my favorite zoo, and I’ve visited over 30 in North America. At this zoo, the enclosures are designed from the animals’ point of view, not the publics’. I know a lot of zoos say they do this, but Woodland Park has truly mastered the art of putting the animals first, while still allowing the public to see them.
The jaguar is strongly associated with water, and thrives in riverine habitat along lakes, rivers and streams. They are also found in seasonally flooded lowland rainforest, so they’re no stranger to the wet stuff. And at this zoo they even have their own pool.
The keepers have put fish in places where the jaguar will have to work to get food, just like they do in the wild. This keeps them active, and makes them think, as they have to hunt for their meal.
Have a look as this beautiful spotted cat hunts for his dinner, and goes for a dip, all in complete safety from the poachers and rainforest destruction in his native habitat.
Posted by Pat Bumstead
May 19, 2010Posted by on