Taking integrated actions for
tiger cats conservation across the


The distribution assessment of the tiger cats complex has assembled >1,100 records of all four known taxonomic unities of the Leopardus tigrinus/guttulus group. Every one of these records was checked for proper species identification, as the similarities of the tiger cats among themselves and with margay, ocelot, and Geoffroy’s cat are quite large. Results are impressive and they will change entirely the distribution range limits of the entire species complex. This herculean effort was made possible only through integration and partnership of several professionals, many of which now part of the recently created TCWG. We are also working towards collecting samples for elucidating the genetic intricacies within the complex, which might show 3 or 4 different species. Let’s wait and see how this unfolds.

Following on this amazing experience, things evolved and expanded beyond the range assessment analysis, to include population and habitat occupation parameters, which directly relates to conservation actions of all small cats of tropical America. As such, a project came to life, “Tropical cats’ initiative: Interspecific patterns of abundance and occupancy of threatened small felids in critical environments of Latin America – a continental approach towards species conservation”. It is meant to evaluate the estimates of abundance and habitat occupation patterns of ten taxonomic units of small cats (<15 kg) in the Americas and how they relate to one-another. This rather bold endeavor is essential for proper conservation planning, management, policy making and conservation actions implementation. Of the 18 sites, only two do not include the tiger cats. The knowledge on how cats use their environment can make considerable shifts in their conservation strategies. Through this kind of approach we learned that northern tiger cats and Brazilian Pampas cats have opposing habitat requirements and that their habitat specificities restricts their area of occupancy considerably. This could translate in fewer cats than expected and indeed affected their Brazilian Red List status assessment outcome recently conducted. How can their long-tern viability be guaranteed in such scenarios? Without knowing specificities, adequate measures cannot be adequately implemented.