Colombia’s endangered cats

Los Felinos de Colombia

The Felines of Colombia

We normally associate felines with large African or Asian cats such as lions, tigers, leopards or cheetahs, but little is known about felines from other parts of the world and, in particular, the Americas. A recent study by Instituto von Humbolt and Fundación Panthera bring into light information on the six species of felines that occur in Colombia, out of the 36 species known worldwide.

Los Felinos de Colombia (The Felines of Colombia) by Esteban Payan Garrido and Carolina Soto contains the most updated account of the Jaguar, the Puma, the Jaguarundí, the Ocelot, the Margay and the Oncilla. The study begins by describing the evolutionary and phylogenetic origin of felids together with their main morphological characteristics. It then provides information on each species, including their natural history, distribution, behaviour, ecology, diet, reproduction, conservation and cultural importance. The book includes photographs and range distribution maps, as well as a final chapter on the conservation values, both biological and touristic, of Colombia’s felids.

Unfortunately, all these felines are in at least one of IUCN’s category of threat and face similar conservation challenges to those of their African and Asian relatives. These are related to habitat loss, transformation as a result of agriculture and livestock ranching, fragmentation from increased population and construction, and retaliatory hunting from predation on domestic animals. These threats require the urgent attention by the Colombian environmental authorities and national and international conservation organizations.

This study will, no doubt, help raise awareness of the importance of Colombia’s cats and will contribute to promote their conservation in their natural habitats.

(Information taken from the book’s executive summary)

Los Felinos de Colombia