Conservation of Northern tiger cat

Conservation of Northern tiger cat

Project Animal(s) : Northern tiger cat (Leopardus tigrinus)
Project Category : Mammals
Project Region : South America
Project Type : Conservation
Project URL :
Project is timebound? : No

The northern tiger cat was classified as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List. In Brazil, it is classified as Endangered and in Colombia as Vulnerable. In Colombia, only the northern species is found. Brazil is the main range country for both the northern and southern species.

The northern tiger cat is considered as widespread but to be rare everywhere. Population densities in the Cerrado and Caatinga in Brasil were estimated at 1-5/100 km². The northern tiger cat is negatively affected by the ocelot and may occurs mainly outside of protected areas. Where the ocelot is not present it reaches densities of 5-20 individuals /100 km². In the Amazonas the species may only occur marginally. In some areas declines of 10-40% were estimated. Its population was estimated at 8,932 to 10,208 adult individuals.

The tiger cat is included in the Appendix I of CITES since 1989 and is protected over part of its range. Hunting is prohibited in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Suriname and Venezuela, but it is not legally protected in Ecuador, Guyana, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru.

As the northern tiger cat, when present, occurs in extremely low numbers in the Amazon Basin reserves or other protected areas, such areas do not represent a safeguard for this species as they do for other felids. Also, this felid is probably most frequent outside protected areas, where its habitat is undergoing high rates of destruction. Thus, conservation efforts should be focused on the areas outside protected areas. The area with the highest potential for maintaining the largest population of the northern tiger cat is the conservation complex around Nascentes do Rio Parnaíba National Park (Brazil) in the northern savannas. However, there is still no hard evidence for that, only a prediction based on area size and tiger cat’s density. Still, numbers are expected to vary only from 750 to 2,250 individuals.

Further research on both species of the tiger cat’s ecology, natural history and threats is urgently needed. To reassess its taxonomy is a research priority as the northern tiger cat might possibly be divided into two separate species.

Project Agency : Cat Specialist Group

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