Ocelot Conservation Day

Ocelot Conservation Day was celebrated this past weekend in the U.S. – the purpose of the annual event is to raise awareness, and money, for this very beautiful and highly endangered small wild cat.

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Otto, an ocleot from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium (Photo: Andrea Hennings) – All Images from Felid TAG on Facebook unless otherwise stated

In the U.S. Ocelots are found in South Texas, the few surviving numbers are concentrated in the shrub-lands at or near the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge (LANWR), however a lone male Ocelot was spotted by camera trap in Arizona near the proposed site of the controversial Rosemont Copper mine.

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Ocelot Female OF 287 walking through the Texas thornscrub (Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Ocelots can also be found in South America and Central America, Mexico and this year Argentina had its first sighting of the rare cat in 10 years.

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An Ocelot was sighted in the northeastern province of Corrientes by camera trap – Image FOX NEWS Latino

Researchers from the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research’s Sub-Tropical Biology Institute confirmed the sighting by chance while monitoring for giant anteaters. Sebastian di Martino, coordinator of Conservation Land Trust’s species-reintroduction program says that he hopes that there are more Ocelots in the area which would enable “the species to reproduce instead of being just the last Ocelot remaining from an extinct population.”

In the past Ocelots were hunted for their fur to make coats and while illegal poaching of the cats can still happen, another major factor contributing to their demise in Argentina, like elsewhere, is habitat destruction.

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Captive Ocelot – Image Wikipedia

The Caribbean Island of Trinidad, which is thought to have a very small population of Ocelots, is unique in the fact that it offers researchers the chance to study a top predator that isn’t influenced by larger cats like pumas or jaguars. It is hoped that the Ocelot can become “the face of forest conservation on the island – raising awareness and inspiring policies to protect these animals and their habitat.”

If you are interested in volunteering your time to help Ocelots, the EarthWatch Institute offers a unique volunteer experience to help monitor them on the island of Trinidad. With illegal hunting and habitat loss posing a major threat to the species researchers are trying to gather information to help better protect them and the tropical rain forests they inhabit.

Cat Crossings

There are less than 50 Ocelots estimated remaining in the US, concentrated primarily around Laguna Atascosa and on private lands in Texas, however the combination of vehicles and urban development have become one of the greatest threats to this endangered cat.

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Ocelots, a species precariously close to being extinct in the US – Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Creative

The death of any of these rare cats is considered devastating and when one was killed by a vehicle on a Texas state Highway south of the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in the Rio Grand Valley in November 2013, it was taken very seriously. The cat was identified as Ocelot Male 276 and had been “watched with trepidation as he crisscrossed a patchwork of cotton fields and convenience stores, culverts and roadways, seeking to establish a territory and find a mate.

Ocelots are so beautiful and so rare, and to lose so many of these animals to vehicular collision just seems senseless.” said refuge manager Boyd Blihovde in an article published by National Geographic. “The number one cause of Ocelot deaths in the US today is vehicular. Six of the 14 cats tracked with radio telemetry by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Laguna Atascosa biologists have been killed by vehicles. As Blihovde puts it, “Wildcats and highways don’t mix.” While vehicles aren’t solely responsible for the damage they are helping to deliver a deadly blow to the species when coupled with other factors like habitat loss and fragmentation.

Some 95 percent of the cats native habitat in the US has been converted to agriculture or become urban sprawl.” 

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Humans have rapidly created a deadly maze in which Ocelots must try to navigate to survive  – Photo Nature.org

The space requirements needed for these cats to recover properly is estimated to be one million acres and while the US Fish and Wildlife Service has taken steps to help the Ocelot it has fallen short in its promise to secure land to create habitats and corridors for the cat. Ultimately this means that the responsibility has and will fall with the people as 95% of land in Texas is privately owned. “Landowner incentives will be required and may offer the best hope to conserve the species.”

Cat Crossings

The news for Ocelots seems rather grim but wildlife crossings, like the one pictured below, are scheduled to be built in 2016 and will help the cats avoid vehicles, busy highways and importantly connect them safely to new territory.

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Conserving and connecting habitat for ocelots is critical to minimizing mortality risk and improving the species ability to flourish. – Photo USFWS

New Blood

When the images of a kitten appeared on the trail camera in the Laguna Atascosa Refuge last March the photos brought hope and relief as each new kitten means the species has a chance. The kitten who is thought to be female, will hopefully breed successfully giving a much-needed boost to the US Ocelot population.

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A new Ocelot kitten takes a selfie at the Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge – Photo  US Fish & Wildlife

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The black-and-white trail camera image of the 2 month-old baby ocelot at the Wildlife Refuge, which houses one of only two breeding populations of the mid-sized wild cats in the US – Photo US Fish & Wildlife

How you can help

In honor of Ocelot Conservation Day today, please ask the US Fish and Wildlife Service to do more for these cats by signing and sharing this Care2 petition. Ocelots desperately need our help and by giving them the protection and habitat to roam, we can ensure they are around for many years to come.

Kitten Rescue – Into the Woods

I come across lots of stories about cat, kitten rescues and I always find it disturbing that people can abandon, turn out a cat in the cold or worse. It angers me to read these things and it should anger anyone really but  It should also inspire us to act, to be aware and to encourage acts of compassion. What I love reading are the positive stories that come out of these events and this particular Kitten Rescue just really stuck with me. When you see these little babies you will understand.

While a couple were walking through the woods, they came across 4 tiny little kittens, running up to them. They knew right away that they couldn’t leave them there.
“Walking through the woods at Spring Creek Park in NW Houston, TX..we stumbled across 4 abandoned kittens in the middle of the woods. They came right up to us, which makes us think they’re not feral, and weren’t born in the woods. Most likely, someone abandoned them out at the park.”

click on the link below to see the video

Kittens, rescue, Texas, abandoned kittenshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qlbGwkCiDY

I don’t know who these people are but I want to thank them. I hope others will be inspired but your act of kindness. ❤ 🐱

While a couple were walking through the woods, they came across 4 tiny little kittens, running up to them. They knew right away that they couldn’t leave them there.

“Walking through the woods at Spring Creek Park in NW Houston, TX..we stumbled across 4 abandoned kittens in the middle of the woods. They came right up to us, which makes us think they’re not feral, and weren’t born in the woods. Most likely, someone abandoned them out at the park.”
Read more at http://lovemeow.com/2014/04/amazing-kitten-rescue/#3t5EMrhoOCDaCA6v.99

While a couple were walking through the woods, they came across 4 tiny little kittens, running up to them. They knew right away that they couldn’t leave them there.

“Walking through the woods at Spring Creek Park in NW Houston, TX..we stumbled across 4 abandoned kittens in the middle of the woods. They came right up to us, which makes us think they’re not feral, and weren’t born in the woods. Most likely, someone abandoned them out at the park.”
Read more at http://lovemeow.com/2014/04/amazing-kitten-rescue/#3t5EMrhoOCDaCA6v.99

While a couple were walking through the woods, they came across 4 tiny little kittens, running up to them. They knew right away that they couldn’t leave them there.

“Walking through the woods at Spring Creek Park in NW Houston, TX..we stumbled across 4 abandoned kittens in the middle of the woods. They came right up to us, which makes us think they’re not feral, and weren’t born in the woods. Most likely, someone abandoned them out at the park.”
Read more at http://lovemeow.com/2014/04/amazing-kitten-rescue/#3t5EMrhoOCDaCA6v.99

While a couple were walking through the woods, they came across 4 tiny little kittens, running up to them. They knew right away that they couldn’t leave them there.

“Walking through the woods at Spring Creek Park in NW Houston, TX..we stumbled across 4 abandoned kittens in the middle of the woods. They came right up to us, which makes us think they’re not feral, and weren’t born in the woods. Most likely, someone abandoned them out at the park.”
Read more at http://lovemeow.com/2014/04/amazing-kitten-rescue/#3t5EMrhoOCDaCA6v.99