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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

While it has been known forever that there are only some 50 Ocelots hanging onto shrinking and splintered scrub habitat in South Texas, it was thought that this diminutive American Cat was doing well in Brazilian Amazon Forests............So now we learn that this is not the case with mid 20th century pelt hunting of the creature(up to 200,000 killed annually) having taken a toll on the species long term persistence probability.........It is now thought that 25 Ocelots per square 100 kilometers is the population level that exists today(previously thought to be as high as 32 per 100 sq. km) with continued land alteration a threat to bring this density lower in the years ahead

Ocelot density in the Brazilian Amazon may be lower than expected

First density estimate of ocelots in Brazilian Amazon

May 18, 2016

The population density of ocelots in the Brazilian Amazon may be stable but lower than expected, according to a study published May 18, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Daniel Gomes da Rocha from the University of Oxford, UK, and colleagues.

Amazonia is considered a major stronghold for the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), with relatively high expected density for the species. It was severely hunted during the 1960s and '70s due to international fur trade demands and, while it is now classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, habitat loss continues to threaten its existence today. Nevertheless, until this year, there was no available density estimate for ocelots in the Brazilian Amazon. The authors of this study used camera-trap surveys from three consecutive years and recently developed models to estimate ocelot density in a pristine forest area within AmanĂ£ Sustainable Development Reserve in Central Amazonia.
The authors found that ocelot densities in the reserve were stable during the three years of study (no significant growth or decline), with an average of 25 ocelots per 100 km2. However, this estimate is lower than expected for the region. The results suggest that the natural ocelot density in some pristine regions of the Amazon may in fact be lower than predicted by previous modelling studies.
This study could not distinguish between the sexes, which may have affected density estimates, as male ocelots tend to range over larger distances than females do. Nonetheless, the authors hope their results will help to clarify the ocelot's ecology in the Brazilian Amazon and aid development of effective long-term conservation strategies.
Daniel Gomes da Rocha notes: "The results help to improve our understanding of the ocelot spatial distribution pattern and will be useful for refining the ocelot extinction risk assessment and underpinning future conservation actions focused on the species."


Ocelots Leopardus pardalis are one of the more beautiful feline species. Their coat is short and soft, forming two whorls on the shoulder, the hairline on the neck being directed towards the crown. Ground colour varies from whitish or tawny yellow to reddish grey. Markings run into chain-like streaks and blotches, forming elongate spots bordered with black enclosing an area darker than the ground colour. The head is rather large with two black cheek stripes on each side surrounding an almost white area. Irises are brown or golden. The underside is snowy white with black spots, and the tail is ringed or barred with black on the upper side, whitish on the underside, and black tipped. Relatively short, stout legs, with large padded feet, are marked with solid black spots and bars. Like most wild cats, the backs of the rounded ears are black with a white central spot.

The only medium sized cat found in the tropics, Ocelots are one of the most widespread and successful Neotropical cat species. They occur primarily in subtropical areas, from southern Texas through Central America and most of tropical South America to northern Argentina. Although there is a very small remnant population in southern Texas, Ocelots seen in Arizona may be occasional wanderers from Mexico.
Ocelots inhabit a variety of habitats, from humid tropical forests, dense thorny chaparral, dry scrub, savannas to coastal mangrove and swamp forests. They can be found from sea level to 1200 m.
This is one of the few small cat species that has been studied in several different habitat types. Home range sizes vary from 4-90 kmfor males to 1-75 km2 for females. Male ranges overlap those of several females. Densities in Belize vary from 2.3-11/100 km2. Densities in Brazil average 22-32 cats per 100 km2, which is much higher than that for other small wild cats in the same habitat.
A camera trap study found much higher densities in wildlife corridors, which are used by the cats to move between forest fragments. In fragmented landscapes they were much more likely to use riparian corridors, relying on the shrubs and trees for protective cover.
Throughout much of their large geographic range, the Ocelot lives alongside the smaller Margay Leopardus wiedii and Oncilla Leopardus tigrinus. Although they take much larger prey than the other two species, studies have shown that the presence of Ocelots in a given area means lower numbers of the smaller cats.
Conversely, Ocelot density does not seem to be impacted by the larger Jaguar Panthera onca and PumaPuma concolor which also share much of the same range. In Costa Rica, one scat study during the rainy season found that Ocelots were the second most common prey species eaten by Jaguars, while a follow up survey in the dry season found no predation by the larger cats.
Primarily nocturnal, these powerfully built cats are solitary and territorial. Their prey species are mostly ground dwelling, and the cats may cover large carcasses with debris for later consumption. Ocelots are generalists, and their diet varies with prey availability.
Athough most of their prey species weigh over one kilogram, in the seasonally flooded savannahs of Venezuela, they feed exclusively on land crabs when they become abundant during the wet season. Strong swimmers, Ocelots take aquatic and semi-aquatic prey throughout the year. A high portion of grass (20%) is consumed, a trait shared by other New World carnivores.
Active 12-14 hours per day, they rest during the day in brushpiles, clumps of vines or amid the roots of large trees. Although they are generally more active at night, some daytime hunting occurs during the wet season, particularly on cloudy or overcast days.
They spend the majority of their time walking slowly throughout their range, often strolling down game trails looking for prey. They are also ‘sit and wait’ predators, sitting motionless for 30-60 minutes at a den or burrow site, then moving rapidly to another site where they sit and wait again.
Researchers have found that these cats cross and re-cross their home range in search of prey, sometimes covering their entire range every two to four days. Males generally travel twice as far as females due to their higher energy requirements, and the need to check on the sexual condition of the females within their range.
After a 70 – 80 day gestation, one to three kittens are born in a dense thicket or among the roots of a fallen tree. The young remain in and around the den for several weeks, and remain dependent on their mother for several months. Sexual maturity is reached at about a year and a half for females and two and a half years for males. They disperse from their mother’s range at about two years. Wild Ocelots may breed year round in the tropics, however the Texas cats show a fall breeding peak which could be a factor limiting their expansion into more northern habitat. Longevity has been reported at 27 years in a captive situation.
Ocelots have been associated not only with dense cover but also use adjacent open areas, including boundary areas of agricultural fields. They are moderately tolerant of human disturbance, and can co-exist with people if not persecuted.
This species has been exploited in the wild by the pet trade, with the usual method of capture being to kill the mother to obtain the kittens. These cats can still be found in local markets in Central and South America for sale to the tourists as pets, although it is illegal to transport them without permits. As with most predators, they are occasionally shot on sight as alleged livestock killers.
One of the greatest threats to the species in Texas has been the automobile. Patches of suitable habitat are widely spaced and the migration of juveniles looking for their own territory result in the death of many animals as they cross roads. Conservationists and universities are working to establish corridors between habitat patches that will allow the animals to migrate safely. The estimated population of the Texas Ocelot is less than 100 animals.
During the 1970’s and 80’s, the Ocelot population was decimated by the fur trade, with as many as 200,000 hundred thousand taken annually. The implementation of strict controls has seen a marked decrease in the number killed, although some are still taken illegally.
Like all wild cat species, the population is declining due to pressures from habitat destruction, and the resulting lack of prey species.
Watch this video on the Texas Ocelots or compare these cats to the very similar Margay.
Range map IUCN Red List 2008
Updated 2012

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